Knowledge and Progress in Science, Theology, and the Arts

Knowledge and Progress in Science, Theology, and the Arts September 29, 2019

It was interesting to find myself discussing the question of whether the arts can provide knowledge or make progress in the way science can, and then to have a post about the same topic in relation to theology appear on Sandwalk. I created a draft post, and then didn’t return to it for quite some time, as you may have noticed often occurs. But this topic kept coming up. Roger Olson wrote in a post called “Has Science Buried God?”:

Much American conservative evangelical apologetics has been dumb. It has been easily swept aside by skeptics because it has relied too heavily on gaps in secular knowledge and explanation. Or it has depended on highly debatable arguments about history and evidence. The Brits have done the best job in recent years of demonstrating that science itself, when it keeps to its proper limits, does not conflict with or even undermine Christianity insofar as Christianity stays true to its limits. Both have explanatory power and can work together. The conflicts are all imaginary and based on misunderstandings.

Richard Beck wrote in his usual provocative way:

Love…is a way of knowing, a way of investigating reality. God is love (ontology), and the one who loves knows God (epistemology).

In short, love is a science. Love is as rigorously factual and empirical as any test tube or controlled experiment.

Love is a technology of knowing. Love uncovers facts about the cosmos. Love reveals the truth.

Love is as scientific an instrument as a telescope, microscope, petri dish or particle accelerator.

Love is science.

Despite those who reject one or the other, science and religion – and many other things – are indeed “ways of knowing,” which sometimes overlap or converge, sometimes complement one another, and sometimes are just different. It isn’t surprising that there are different models of how to relate religion and science. All of them are true, some of the time.

On this topic see also:

Progress in Science — II

Progress in Science — III

And for an example of how experiential learning can lead to an understanding of how Intelligent Design and Star Wars fandom are related, here’s a cartoon that illustrates the point:


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  • John MacDonald

    Also a good eye poke!

    • Gary

      Conversely, just like a car with a spare tire, we’ve got two eyes and two nuts! But… like in blogging, we’ve only got one mouth. The similarity to the Death Star vulnerability and us is our “one” mouth, not eyeballs and dos balls.

  • Amtep

    The Death Star wasn’t designed to have that vulnerability, it just wasn’t perfect. The exhaust from the engine has to go somewhere, after all, and among all the millions of vents that were protected, there was one they overlooked. The Rebels found it by studying the blueprints. A rule of thumb about passive defense is that the defender has to be successful every time, while the attacker has to be successful only once.

    Designing highly complex systems so that all the parts work together and there are no vulnerabilities is very difficult. Even with our current level of technology and non-planet-sized construction projects, we usually fail at it. We can’t even make web browsers without vulnerabilities.

    To consistently get it right, you’d have to be omniscient or something.

    • Mike Dunster

      Of course, if you accept the slight (?) retcon from Rogue One, it was designed to have that fault by its designer. But essentially, I agree with your point – particularly once you get the inevitable competition between the 3 ‘corners’ of any technological project – quality/performance, cost and schedule – you get pressure from Emperor Palpatine/Darth Vader on the builders and test & commisisoning engineers to get it working by last week without using any extra budget, and there will inevitably a few holes in the quality/performance side of things…

      • Amtep

        Considering that the construction was being rushed by a boss who would literally murder you for going over the schedule, the surprising part is that the result still matched the blueprints the rebels had 🙂