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Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 04 August 2008 15:45

The Beginning of a Christian Philosophy of Science: CAUSALITY

Introductory Questions

1.  Does every single thing, event, action (human and in nature) have a cause?  By “cause” we mean “necessary antecedent”.  Causes may be physical or material, mental or psychological and God.  Traditionally, there are four types of causes-

  • Material: parts (factors, elements) from which something comes, e.g.-wood
  • Formal: that which gives a thing its over-all form or shape (determines what it is), e.g.-table
  • Efficient:  the agent that starts the change (the “cause”), e.g.-carpenter and his tools
  • Final: the purpose or end for which something has been caused, i.e.- flat surface with legs    

 

2.  Is every single thing, event, action (human and in nature) an effect, i.e.- are all things in causal relation with other things?

3.  What is the explanation for a causal relation?  There are five possibilities-

  • Immanent “Laws” (innate characteristics)
  • Imposed “Laws”  (externals)
  • Combination of the above
  • None of the above.  This is the view of Empiricists, who claim the following-
  • We can know only by experience (posteriori knowledge)

 

4.  Does causality means that all is determined, i.e.- necessary?

 

5.  How do we define and justify the concept of “free-will”?

6.  How do we defend the principle of Responsibility?

 

7.  How do we explain Evil or perverse anomalies?

 

 

Common Assumptions:

 All we can know about the relation between x and y is that it is a constant conjunction, i.e.- it is one of repeating sequences and regularity.  We can not know necessary connections.  A “cause” is not a necessary condition, it is a sufficient condition.

A causal principle is an assumption that can not be proved.  It is a working principle, constructed by our minds.  It does not come from the actual world.

Everything is determined, but this does not deny freedom as we chose “causes”, i.e.- necessary conditions

Nothing is in itself compelled (necessary)

 

The following Scripture provides our answers to these Questions and the Assumptions of Empiricism, which, in turn,  is basic to Pragmatism and Positivism, et. al.

 

1.  A rational [and loving, wise] God creates, preserves and governs all things. (This is the summary of the previous Study in the Unit about Logic).  God creating, preserving and governing all things is another way of defining“causes all things” and therefore, all things are “caused”, ie- rationally,intentionally and purposely created, preserved and governed.  

2.  Exactly how does God “cause”? 

    a.  The God of Scripture is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient

Ps 33:13:13-15; Ps 139; Ps
147:5Jer 23:24 cf Ps 139:7-10; 2Chron16:9; Isaiah 40:28 and  and Rm 11:33


    b.  God’s knowing (knowledge) is immediate

Mt 6:4,8,32 cf Lk16:15; Mt 10:29-30 cf Lk 12:6-7; 1 Jn 3:2 cf Jn 16:30, 21:17; Heb 4:13

    c.  God’s knowing something brings it into being- causes it to be. 

The Formal, Efficient and Final (Teleological) cause of all things is  the Mind (Logos) of God.  Ultimately, God is also the Material cause as well, being the Creator of all that is.

         Rom 11:36, 1 Cor 8:6 cf 11:12, Col 1:16-17, Heb 2:10


What is the relationship of the Mind of God (Causation) and the Scientific Method?

1.  What is the Scientific Method?

  • Observation (measurement: quantity and quality)
  • Generalization (assigning meaning to the data collected), using induction and deduction
  • Verification (testing the Generalization, ie- its predictability, repeatability)
  • Modification
  • Postulation of a Theory or Law (always subject to change)

Knowledge gained by this Method is posteriori or empirical knowledge.  It is  certainly a valid and important way of gaining Knowledge, but we must disagree with those who insist that Knowledge is possible only using the Scientific Method.  That is Scientism and it rests on a Pre-Supposition: Whatever can not be known by the Scientific Method  does not exist, or, at best, is unknowable.  This is Philosophical Naturalism and assumes a priori that reality is confined to a closed  ime-space world, ie- Reality is confined (limited to, by definition) what can be observed and measured.  This is a totally arbitrary or dogmatic “Faith”.


The Scientific Method itself rests on 3 Presuppositions (Faith Statements!)

  • There is some reality to be observed and measured
  • This reality has order.  It is appropriate to describe it logically, rationally or mathematically
  • There is a causal principle at work in this reality.  There is uniformity and continuity.  Prediction is possible

          Note: Scientists also recognize and utilize intuition

What justification is there for these presuppositions underlying the Scientific Method?  Are they simply self-evident?  The answer is the same as in regards to the Laws of Aristotelian Logic.  These 3 assumptions derive from the Mind  of God, character and acts of God, the Creator.  As I explained in the study of Epistemology, when ever any one learns anything that is true (certified, justified) s/he has learned something that God knows.  Science is the uncovering, the discovery, of the knowledge of God.

Ps 94:10 cf Isa 28:23-29, Col 2:3 

More than that, it is the discovery of the attributes and work of God.  Rom 1:20  This is called “General Revelation”.  It is what makes the work of Scholars meaningful and worthy of the best Christian minds.
 
 
NOTE: There are no fixed and eternal (independent, autonomous) Laws of nature.  Actually, there is no such thing as Nature (the word is only a helpful metaphor).  What there is, actually, is only the Mind of God manifest in the time-space, material “world”. 

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2008 07:27