Sensation reigns supreme within its own domain, but its domain is not the whole of what is knowable. But Seagrave apparently thinks it is. He appears to attribute to the bare sense of sight the capacity to judge the most abstract propositions—for example, whether natural selection is capable of crafting organs as intricate as a human eye. Now, the human eye is certainly a remarkable organ, but it is an organ of sense, not of judgment. Judging truth and falsehood is the prerogative of reason, not of any bodily organ.
Br. Guy Consolmagno, of the Vatican Observatory, discusses science and faith in a recent TED talk.
“An ancient Chinese myth tells of ten Suns that existed in primordial times. Prideful and intemperate, as pagan gods are often wont to be, these Suns rode together over the surface of the Earth each day, their combined heat scorching it. Insensitive to the plight of the mortals, the Suns refused to take turns in the sky, and were eventually struck down until only one Sun remained.
I was reminded of this story when I read yet again another example of an atheist inviting religious believers to go “one god more” when critically evaluating their beliefs. For instance, here is noted skeptic Michael Shermer at a recent debate about science and belief in God: “Ten-thousand different religions, a thousand different gods. Our opponents agree with us that 999 of those gods are false gods. They are atheists like we are atheists. What I’m asking you to do is just go one God further with us.”
Today at Public Discourse:
What are we to make of this new man-made man? Is he what one commentator called a “walking, talking, blood pumping vision of our medical future?” Some might think that Rex and his various organs blur the line between nature and artifice. How do we compare “the patchwork assembly of parts,” as Meyer himself called Rex, with a unified, living organism, in this case, a human being? Surely, Rex is one thing, but is the bionic man a unity in the same way that a human being is a unity? And does it make a difference?
- Edward Feser writes at his blog:
“That secondary causes are true causes, even if ultimately dependent on God, is necessary if natural science is to be possible. If occasionalism were true, absolutely everything that happens would, in effect, be comparable to a miracle and there would be no natural regularities to discover. Physics, chemistry, biology, and the like would be nothing other than branches of theology — the study of different sorts of divine action rather than of (say) the properties of magnetism, electricity, gravitation, hydrogen, helium, bodily organs, or genetic material as such. And if God’s ways are inscrutable (as they must be given that He is pure actuality, subsistent being itself, etc.), then there could in that case be little reason to expect regularity in any of these spheres. (As Alain Besançon has argued, a tendency toward an occasionalist conception of divine causality is part of what distinguishes Islam from Christianity – and this is no doubt one reason why natural science progressed in the West and stagnated within the Islamic world.)”
- And MercatorNet hosts an interview with John G. West on C. S. Lewis’ worries about scientism:
“Finally, Lewis saw that science, like magic, can be a quest for power over nature and our fellow human beings. Many times that power will be used for good, but if modern science is cut off from traditional ethical norms, its power may be increasingly misused. During Lewis’s own lifetime, he saw the horrific results of the misuse of science in the eugenics movement and its effort to breed a master race by applying the principles of Darwinian biology.”
- And finally, a new study suggests that reconstructions of early land-dwelling tetrapods might have the backbones backwards. This isn’t, of course, the first time this sort of thing has happened in paleontology.
“Without pretending to span within such limits the essential Thomist idea, I may be allowed to throw out a sort of rough version of the fundamental question, which I think I have known myself, consciously or unconsciously since my childhood. When a child looks out of the nursery window and sees anything, say the green lawn of the garden, what does he actually know; or does he know anything? There are all sorts of nursery games of negative philosophy played round this question. A brilliant Victorian scientist delighted in declaring that the child does not see any grass at all; but only a sort of green mist reflected in a tiny mirror of the human eye. This piece of rationalism has always struck me as almost insanely irrational. If he is not sure of the existence of the grass, which he sees through the glass of a window, how on earth can he be sure of the existence of the retina, which he sees through the glass of a microscope? If sight deceives, why can it not go on deceiving? Men of another school answer that grass is a mere green impression on the mind; and that he can be sure of nothing except the mind. They declare that he can only be conscious of his own consciousness; which happens to be the one thing that we know the child is not conscious of at all. In that sense, it would be far truer to say that there is grass and no child, than to say that there is a conscious child but no grass. St. Thomas Aquinas, suddenly intervening in this nursery quarrel, says emphatically that the child is aware of Ens. Long before he knows that grass is grass, or self is self, he knows that something is something. Perhaps it would be best to say very emphatically (with a blow on the table), “There is an Is”. That is as much monkish credulity as St. Thomas asks of us at the start. Very few unbelievers start by asking us to believe so little. And yet, upon this sharp pin-point of reality, he rears by long logical processes that have never really been successfully overthrown, the whole cosmic system of Christendom.”
G. K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas
“In any event, whether we think our ordinary, pre-scientific perceptual and rational faculties are unreliable to only a minor extent or to a significant extent, we cannot coherently regard them as fundamentally unreliable. And that they are fundamentally reliable is all the EAAN requires. Even science at its most rarefied presupposes that at some level our senses tell us the truth in a systematic way, and that basic arithmetic, modus ponens, conjunctive reasoning, etc. are valid modes of inference. EAAN claims that naturalism is inconsistent with this presupposition, and nothing Schliesser has said shows otherwise.”
“There is an immense philosophical message in the fact that integers, on which rest all the procedures of measuring, must be defined in non-quantitative terms. In a sense much wider than this may appear, in the beginning was the word. And once one has grown to appreciate what a word, a noun or a verb or an adverb, stands for, one has made the first step toward relishing the rest of that passage, namely, that the word itself was with God. As such it had to be God himself.”
Stanley L. Jaki