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"Rational Scientific Theories from Theism"

 

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Previous: 3.1 Conflict or integration? Up: 3. A Way Forward Next: 3.3 Changes to theology

3.2 Changes to science

Scientists should consider the possibility of as-yet-undiscovered dependencies of physical processes on such things as our individual minds or even on the transcendent mind of God. Such dependencies should be intellectually evaluated and evidence considered which might confirm such theories. We should not refuse to consider evidence because of a denial in advance of the very possibility of openness. In the end, any actual changes in science will be made only in the light of new theories and new evidence which properly describe and confirm how such influences operate, but at least evidence will not be denied a hearing according to normal standards. Scientists, in this new context, will still retain the ability to examine the regular and law-like behavior of material processes. It is only that, sometimes, the causes of those processes will not be previous material powers but something new to be investigated. A change needed is for science to give up assuming the causal closure of the universe. The likelihood of some causal openness for the universe should be admitted.

Some (perhaps many) scientists will respond with “Over my dead body! Did not we get rid of occult influences five centuries ago, and look how much better we are for that!" The theistic reply to this is “Fear not!” We are not asking for a return to the Middle Ages, to witchcraft or magic or anything similar, and moreover not to a ‘new age’ in which ‘anything goes’ and in which ‘we make whatever reality we want’. Rather, the civil contract between secular citizens of good will should remain untouched. Any new science should be entirely robust and transparent and subject to public confirmations or disconfirmations. Admittedly we will be advocating immanent theism, rather than the deism in which God does not interact with the world, so the world will not be so simple, but it will not be the end of civilization as we know it.

In fact, it is likely that whole new sciences will be formed after we begin to understand the interactions between mental and physical processes. Many present-day scientists suspect that such interactions exist but are reluctant to admit this in public, at least on weekdays, for fear of ridicule. This reluctance is not actually based on evidence against such interactions. Every physical scientist feels pressure to assume causal closure in order to belong to the profession.

It seems to me that scientists are afraid of something: of the possible incursion into the world (into the world of thought, if not the real world) of new powers which they have traditionally ignored and over which they have no control. They fear that even thinking that minds or God have influence would be to encourage an acceptance of what they think of as ‘black forces’. I once thought like that, but I could not make sense of the world if neither minds nor God could influence it. Some scientists may be relaxed about the prospect, but they are not a majority in research circles. The theistic response, to assuage these fears, is to emphasize that these new influences of the mind and of God are not arbitrary, violent, or disruptive. Rather, the opposite. These influences, in theism, will be regular, will be conditioned in many ways, and will be supportive rather than upsetting. There is nothing to be afraid of within science: these are white rather than black forces, and in fact are largely responsible for generating the enormously complicated biological, psychological, sociological and civil structures we see in the world and certainly not for breaking them down.

One related change needed in science is to consider multiple levels of reality, where such levels are related by specific causes and specific laws that scientists will investigate. Such levels are not to be taken as merely distinct levels of explanation or of different microscopic vs. macroscopic levels of description but as multiple derivative levels that exist concurrently with and interact with each other. This change in science will be relatively easy. Chapter 5 shows that many of these levels are already known to science in some detail, though not recognized as such.


Previous: 3.1 Conflict or integration? Up: 3. A Way Forward Next: 3.3 Changes to theology

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