My last post touched (if only in passing) on the relationship between two realms: the philosophical/religious and the scientific. Among other things, I was suggesting that there is both a distinction and an inter-play between the two.
We are all –to an extent, of course– both scientists and philosophers. We engage in the stuff of science; for at various levels of skill, we figure out how things work, what makes things tick. We also engage in philosophical reflection; for we all navigate our way through life based on an understanding (either assumed or deeply worked out with much reflection) of what is good, etc.
Many scientists freely admit that it is their philosophical notions of wonder and mystery which ‘spur’ them on in their passion and zeal for their work of scientific discovery. Also, it seems clear that philosophical notions like ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ are inseperably woven into scientific processes; for example, if it weren’t for the philosophical ‘law’ of non-contradiction, no scientific experiment would be worth performing, because all of your attempts to keep the experiment ‘controlled’ would be rendered powerless.
Also, scientific discovery is able to greatly enhance philosophical reflection. The stronger our telescopes or microscopes get, and hence, the more vastness (telescopes) or detail (microscopes) we see, the more it fuels and contributes to philosophical reflection. Every uncovering of both order and randomness –not to mention order within randomness or randomness within order– only enhances our wonder at it all.
Steven Jay Gould has suggested that faith and science be seen as ‘non-overlapping magisteria’, but as this article (PDF version here) over at Thinking Faith suggests, maybe there is a more interesting relationship between them after all…