Can Science Explain Everything?
by Randy Everist
Scientism is the view which claims science can account for any and all truths; science is the sole means by which we gain truth and knowledge. In its pure and extreme form scientism is easily defeated, since one may just point out it is self-refuting; the claim that all knowledge can only come from science itself does not come from science. However, some feel that by rewording the claim they can make a separate argument and hence avoid altogether any discussion of theistic argument.
The claim is reflected in this post’s title: science can account for everything. The typical atheist line here is that science has accounted for everything thus far, and hence we should expect it will continue to do so in the future. Since no God is needed to explain anything, science can, has, and will continue to explain everything in terms of physical or natural causes. Is this correct?
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It seems not. Science cannot inherently account for several things. First, logic and math cannot be proven by science. Science must presuppose both of these things. Without logic science cannot even make basic inferences. Even the law of gravity would never be inferred without logic. Yet if logic is divorced from science and science attempted to prove logic, it would either be completely unsuccessful or reason in a circle.
Second, statements of moral value cannot be proven by science. If objective moral values exist science cannot possibly tell us the origin of these truths since they are not physical or naturalistic in any scientifically testable way. Some atheists may object that scientists have discovered the origin of some kind of moral gene; but this doesn’t tell us anything about the origin of objective moral values themselves (only how we come to know them).
Next, aesthetic judgments cannot be accounted for or proven by science. Things considered beautiful are not themselves subjected to the scientific method. There is no way to know or to gauge the (quite natural) view of beauty. Science can dissect one’s responses to perceived beauty, the brain function, et al., but it can never account for the concept of beauty itself. Even if one claims aesthetic judgments are not in any way objective (which one can easily admit), this doesn’t get science off the hook. The scientist has to make philosophical inference to account for it: he must ask and answer the question of “why” in non-scientific terms…