Is Science Dependent on Other Disciplines?

by Bill Pratt

The use of the scientific method as a way of learning about the natural world has yielded fantastic technologies and discoveries over the last few hundred years.  Nobody can doubt the power of the scientific method – collecting data, developing hypotheses about that data, and then testing those hypotheses with empirical experimentation.

In fact, some people are so enamored of the scientific method that they declare that this is the only way we can gain true knowledge about anything.  Philosopher J. P. Moreland was once told by a man finishing his doctorate in physics that “science is the only discipline that is rational and true.  Everything else is a matter of mere belief and opinion. . . . if something cannot be quantified or tested by the scientific method, . . . it cannot be true or rational.”

Is this true?  Does science stand on its own without any support?  Is it the only way to know anything?

The answer, my friends, is an unequivocal no.

Moreland explains that the statement “only what can be known by science or quantified and empirically tested is rational and true” is self-refuting.  Why?  Because this statement itself is not a statement of science but a statement of philosophy about science.  In other words, at least one philosophical statement must be true for science to even get started.  The aims, methodologies, and presuppositions of science must be upheld by disciplines other than science, for science cannot pull itself up by its own bootstraps.  Science is like the second story of a house; it cannot stand without the first story and the foundation underneath.

What are these things underneath science, supporting it?  Moreland provides several examples.

First, “one must hold that the senses are reliable and give accurate information about a mind-independent physical world.”  This is a philosophical position and there are some in academia who would deny its truth.  The scientist must take this philosophical statement to be true before he can start doing science…


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