Thursday, October 29, 2009

science vs. philosophy

Science: Systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation or experimentation.
Philosophy: The rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.

Let us take into consideration Ken Ham's favorite question, young-earth creationism vs. evolutionary processes, the beginning of mankind's existence, the Origin of the Species. Now, we ask ourselves, is this a question for Science, or for Philosophy?

Fundamentally, one immediately makes the argument that Science, being based on observation, cannot answer this question, since we are incapable - without the use of some sort of time travel technology - of observing the origin of our own species. Science can - though, to my knowledge, hasn't - observe the origin of different species. It can observe the physical world for clues regarding the origin of our species, it can conduct experiments to recreate the origin of our species. But science cannot answer the question of our origin, simply because it wasn't there to observe it. Science is existentialist, what you see now is all there is. Science, then, cannot answer our question.

We turn, then to Philosophy with the hope that, not being based on observation, it can answer this question. But Philosophy, too, encounters a problem. Where Science makes the assumption that the senses can be trusted, Philosophy must call into doubt the very premise of the question. Not only that, but Philosophy, almost by hypothesis, denies the answerability of the question.

The simple answer is that nobody can answer this question. Christian scientists must place faith in an answer that they cannot conclusively prove through observation. Evolutionary scientists must place faith in an answer that - equally - cannot be proved. And both, as philosophers, must realize that there is no way that they can answer their questions. The question of our origins, or indeed, any question, is answered by faith.


  1. In your last paragraph, thus you have summarized the entire second season of LOST.

  2. Yeah, pretty much. Everything is base on assumption and belief, and there's no way to get around it. People "agree" on a truth when their assumptions line up, and disagree when they don't.