A response to my last post perpetuates a common myth, which is that modern science simply appears at some point in history as an accident of some sort and one completely isolated from context, philosophical influence, and somehow a-historical. Or, that it appears as a liberation of sorts from superstition and religion. All nonsense of course. It is the conventional wisdom of the type that falls into the same sort of sensibility you find with the person who says something like “all black people have rhythm,” and then goes on to tell us that some of his best friends are black and that “history” confirms his observation. It is prejudice derived from ignorance masquerading as knowledge.
There are many many books now and sources out there that do away with this myth. To name just one is this book by professor of political science at Auburn University, Murray Jardine. The following points are made:
Most people have been taught in school that science comes from the Greek philosophers. In fact, although it is true that Greek philosophers were the first people to attempt something like science, that is, the systematic understanding of how the material world works, modern historians of science agree that the conceptual basis for modern science comes from the Bible, and that in fact the incorporation of Greek philosophical ideas into Christian theology actually retarded the development of science.
…It is not just coincidence, then [after he compares the differences between Greek philosophy and a Biblical model], that modern inductive, experimental science, and the technological capacities derived from science, developed in the Christian West, not elsewhere. As a practical matter, the beginnings of modern science developed in the monasteries during the latter part of the Middle Ages, creating physical concepts, particularly those for describing the motions of bodies, that were compatible with the biblical cosmology.
And like my earlier post, the point here is not simply a Greek v. Biblical model—it is the greater point that science, of any type, is impossible without some governing philosophical context that allows it to “see” what is possible to begin with. “Science” doesn’t simply appear as a reaction or as something a-historical and without philosophical presupposition or context. Science was/is birthed and evolves by philosophical guidance. For better or worse, for good or bad, this is simply a fact.
And this takes nothing away from the scientist on the ground, so to speak, who takes the philosophical presuppositions/world-view he is given (usually without question as he is educated through high school and college with them) and does the hard work of experimentation and bringing to life the practical aspects of theory through trial and error. But that is only possible when the conceptual world, for what is possible, has already been created by the philosopher/theologian. They create the world in which the scientist lives and works. Unless any given scientist is also a trained and educated philosopher, he lives and works in their world and not they his. If he is an educated and trained philosopher, he already knows this.