Saturday, December 17, 2005

Secularization Of Science, Redux

See the first entry under Notes On Several Readings (below) for my own summary.

Dooyeweerd's summary of his article The Secularization Of Science in 12 points:

1. The [secular] idea that non-theological science, because of its intrinsic character, should be independent of personal faith in order that its "objectivity" should not be menaced by being tied up with Christians presuppositions, is common today even among Christians. In fact, even Christians who have received a scientific education lack a clear understanding of the essential relationship between religion and science.

2. The secularization of science has been brought about under the influence of the religious dialectic, fundamental to modern thought. These central religious motifs are the scholastic schema of nature -- grace and the humanist schema of nature -- liberty. Both are opposed to the fundamental motif of Biblical revelation.

3. The dominant theme of the Bible: creation, fall, and redemption by Jesus Christ in the communion of the Holy Spirit, is the key to the true knowledge of God and of oneself. It is a theme which is integral and radical [all-inclusive and fundamental], free from all dualism or dialectic.

4. The religious dialectic, which dominates contemporary interpretation of reality and human experience, is the result of a partial or total apostasy from the Biblical point of view. When a specific aspect of temporal reality is elevated to the position of an absolute, the idolatry which is its religious basis evokes another aspect, in opposition to the aspect of reality already deified, which in its turn is deified. The resulting religious conflict which appears in the dialectic of the fundamental motif is insoluble. The reason for this is that religious presuppositions are always the ultimate point of departure for all thought. Therefore, in default of a real synthesis, there is no other recourse than to give the place of primacy to one or other of the two conflicting motifs which constitute the basic dialectic scheme.

5. The motive power of the religious dialectic of the nature -- grace which has dominated scholastic thought, both Romanist and Protestant, from the high Middle Ages to our own day, is the result of a self-contradictory effort to reconcile the central thought of the Bible with [ancient] Greek religion, expressing itself in the dominant theme of matter -- form. This latter schema resulted from the irreconcilable conflict between the old religion of life and death and the later cultural religion of the Olympian gods: the gods of form, of measurements and harmony. From the beginning this conflict of matter -- form has dominated Greek thought.

6. The internal conflict of the nature -- grace idea resulted in the dissolution of the synthesis attempted in the Thomistic philosophy through Occam's philosophy. Buy this there was held to be no point of connection between the opposing spheres of nature and grace. One might compare this with the same conflict at the present going on between the "dialectical" theologians, Brunner and Barth. This process of disintegration was completed by the end of the Middle Ages, preparing the way for the Reformation and modern humanism.

7. The Reformation did not succeed in achieving a basic reformation in scientific thought. In fact, through the influence of Melanchthon and Beza, it once again became scholastic. This is why the Reformation itself contributed to the secularization of science.
   The central religious drive of modern humanism, namely, nature -- liberty, is the result of a radical secularization of the Biblical outlook. The Christian idea of liberty in Jesus Christ which is both radical and unique, was divided in its secularization into two opposing themes. On the one hand there was the idea of the liberty and autonomy of humanistic science, which endeavored to dominate nature and created a picture of reality which was deterministic and mechanistic. On the other hand, there was the belief in the liberty of the autonomous human personality elevated to the position of an ultimate, which vindicated its autonomy in practical action.

8. The humanistic religious dialectic had as its primary theme the scientific control of nature, deifying the mathematical and mechanistic method of natural science. Then it was that Rousseau deprecated the humanist ideal of science and proclaimed the primacy of the autonomous human personality. In the critical system of Kant there is a radical antithesis between the two opposing interpretations of despised nature and the effective liberty of the independent human being.

9. After Kant, it was the absolute idealization of liberty which, by means of dialectic thought, tended to surpass the critical limits which Kant established between nature and liberty. On giving primacy to the creative liberty of the man of action, he sought to overthrow classical scientific determinism. He sought to fit one into the other: to discover liberty in nature and the determinism of nature in the freedom of the human personality. He created a new religious conception of human liberty in the unique creative individuality which was beyond the need of submitting to general laws. The old rationalistic individualism was replaced by a new universalism and irrationality. In these there was no place for human rights as such, but the individual community of the nation was deified, the individual being no more than one of its members.

10. This new idea of human liberty created a new idea of science, namely the idea of historic thought. From this came a new scientific point: the historical, which elevated the historic aspect of experience to the position of an absolute. This historicism has had a great influence on Christian thought.

11. The result of the development has been the depriving of modern science of every [stable] spiritual foundation by the introduction of a universal relativism. It recognizes no constant values and makes the central religious theme of humanism itself into an outgrowth of the process of human history. The secularization of science results in Nihilism, prophesied by Nietzsche. Man has not only murdered his gods, but also "godless" Science.

12. The Reformed reply to the secularization of science must be a radical break with the scholastic conception of nature -- grace and the demand for an absolute and radical reformation of scientific thought, without compromise. To do this it is necessary to develop a transcendental and Biblical criticism of the scientific philosophy. This criticism should unmask the uncritical dogmatism hidden in the assumption of the autonomy of science, and by a critical examination of the internal structure of theoretical thinking, reassert the presuppositions necessary for [genuine] Christian thought.