Scientism - Nothing But a Childish Insult?

by cofty 147 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • cofty
    cofty

    It is not uncommon for theists to accuse rational people on this forum of "scientism".

    In my opinion it is nothing but a cheap shot from those who know they lack evidence for their beliefs. If something like "scientism" actually does exist then I have never encountered it.

    Here is part of an exchange from another thread - I have brought it here as it was off-topic...

    Scientism = claim of scientific method being universal and the only valid method of knowledge. Followers of scientism always demand scientific evidence to anything. And deny any existence that cannot be scientifically detected. - John_Mann

    So let's talk about that.

    Scientism = claim of scientific method being universal and the only valid method of knowledge.

    I am interested in examples of ways to know things by means that are not available to the scientific method. I strongly suspect such examples exist but I can't think of any.

    One of the problems is that theists keep vacillating on this. If they think any scientific evidence might exist to support their beliefs they are quick to use it. For example I have seen so-called "near death experiences" used as evidence of life after death. This is a scientific claim. It is hypocrisy to resort to accusations of "scientism" when people challenge your evidence.

    Followers of scientism always demand scientific evidence to anything.

    It is not "scientism" to ask for evidence for extraordinary claims. It is just common-sense. It is how we avoid being duped by charlatans and fraudsters. If you have evidence for something that you don't think fits the description of scientific evidence then just share it and lets scrutinise it. Again it is difficult to imagine what sort of evidence that could be.

    If you want to make grand claims for which you admit there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever then don't be offended when rational people decline to take you seriously. This is not "scientism" it is just healthy skepticism.

    And deny any existence that cannot be scientifically detected.

    Again, if you can provide any reason to accept that entities exist which cannot be detected scientifically then share those reasons. If it turns out your "reasons" are nothing more than appeals to authority and superstitious dogma then don't resort to childish insults when rational people decline to humour you.

    Science is the very best tool we have to understand what is objectively true about reality. If you have other tools then I am keen to hear about it.

    I have no interest in links or copy-paste, I can Google like anybody else. I am interested in hearing the personal views of those who frequently resort to this canard in order to avoid the burden of proof. Simple everyday examples would be especially helpful. John_Mann is by no means alone in this.

  • John_Mann
    John_Mann

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

    Here's a link from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

    https://www.aaas.org/page/what-scientism

    If you ask for scientific evidence to God then you are a follower of scientism.

    The scientific method is limited by definition to the physical world and God is metaphysical.

    You're trying to comb your hair with a chainsaw.

  • LoveUniHateExams
    LoveUniHateExams

    deny any existence that cannot be scientifically detected - atheists & other sceptics don't need to do any denying.

    Re the existence of God, the burden of proof rests on believers who claim God exists/there is an afterlife.

    PS - there is only one way of detecting the existence of something/someone, and that's via the scientific method. Anything else is belief and opinion ...

  • Finkelstein
    Finkelstein

    Theism is inherently born out human ignorance, where acquired knowledge from applying the scientific method offers facts based on practical evidence.

    Those facts can be a valuable asset toward helping humanity to improve the human experience..

    Science offers us a better understanding of the reality of the human experience and of the world in which we live.

    For some though science doesn't hold much appreciative value for it may not offer power, control and money of what can be acquired through mythological beliefs.

  • LoveUniHateExams
    LoveUniHateExams

    The scientific method is limited by definition to the physical world and God is metaphysical

    Physical world = reality

    Metaphysical world = ? (no evidence; therefore conjecture, opinion, belief)

  • LoveUniHateExams
    LoveUniHateExams

    It could be argued that 'scientism' is a nonsense term.

    There's just science (from scientia - Latin for 'knowledge') and scientists (qualified people who collect data via the scientific method, then draw reasonable conclusions based on those data).

  • cofty
    cofty
    I have no interest in links or copy-paste, I can Google like anybody else. I am interested in hearing the personal views of those who frequently resort to this canard in order to avoid the burden of proof. Simple everyday examples would be especially helpful. - Cofty

    Immediately followed by two links by John_Mann

    If you ask for scientific evidence to God then you are a follower of scientism

    That is patently untrue. By definition theists claim that god acts in this physical world. That can be tested scientifically.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat
    I am interested in examples of ways to know things by means that are not available to the scientific method. I strongly suspect such examples exist but I can't think of any.

    Amazing. Even more so because you apparently don't realise what a huge admission it is. Other ways of knowing things include philosophy, history, sociology, experience, poetry.

    I like the example of a river. Scientific accounts of a river may include: geology, meteorology, physical geography, biology, chemistry, physics and so on.

    Other types of knowledge about the river include accounts that are: historical, anthropological, poetic, economic, experiential (I mean playing it in, or fishing, and so on, in case it's not clear), theological, narrative, sociological, political and so on.

    Scientism is when people argue or imply that only scientific accounts of a subject are "real" or, that at a fundamental level, other approaches to knowledge don't matter, or can be collapsed in their essentials into scientific terms.

    But it takes a pretty stupid person to argue that historical, poetic or political accounts of a river either don't matter or that they can be reduced to science.

    And scientific reductionists should watch their back too, because reductionists don't tend to want to stop at just eliminating non-science from knowledge. Even within science reductionists insist on a hierarchy, saying biology isn't really a hard science, and that chemistry is really physics in its essentials.


  • WhatshallIcallmyself
    WhatshallIcallmyself

    slimboyfat -

    I can only assume you didn't understand Cofty. I think I did which I why I found your response amusing. Of course I could have misunderstood Cofty and he actually does not know of those disciplines you have referred to. I am eager to know if I was correct or not!

  • Rainbow_Troll
    Rainbow_Troll
    Cofty: I am interested in examples of ways to know things by means that are not available to the scientific method. I strongly suspect such examples exist but I can't think of any.

    I am an atheist, but I do not believe the scientific method is our only means to knowledge or even the most reliable means. The scientific method is ultimately empirical - it relies on the testimony of the human senses. The problem is that the human sense organs were not designed to give us universal truth, they evolved to give us very limited information about our environment - just enough to avoid falling off a precipice or getting eaten by a sabor-toothed tiger! For example: the actual EM spectrum is enormous - encompassing everything from radio waves to gamma rays - but the portion of it that we can actually perceive as visual light and heat is almost infinitesimal. Furthermore, human senses are subject to all sorts of illusions and hallucinations. They just aren't that reliable beyond mundane day-to-day purposes.

    Science is strongly aligned with the philosophy of logical positivism. Logical Positivism is a philosophical position originated by Ludwig Wittgenstein and his Vienna circle of philosophers. Briefly, LP states that that which cannot be perceived by the human senses or mechanical extensions of those senses (such as microscopes) is, for all practical purposes, nonexistent; in otherwords: absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This is frankly an absurd proposition! For thousands of years humans possessed no ability to perceive bacteria, but those bacteria nonetheless made their existence felt in the form of terrible diseases! I can understand Wittgenstein's motives: he was fighting religion and superstition; but his commitment to empiricism blinded him to its inherent limits.

    So if the senses are unreliable, what can we depend upon? The answer to this question was discovered nearly 2500 years ago by the philosopher Socrates, whose thoughts were recorded in the books of Plato. Socrates realized that since the human senses were limited, unreliable and easily deceived, we must rely on something else that each of us has but few humans ever develop: logic. Logic can allow us to discover things about the universe that our sense organ never could. A good example of this is from the realm of mathematics. It is impossible for any sense organ to perceive something like negative or imaginary numbers, and yet simple reasoning from the axioms of mathematics tells us that these entities exist beyond any doubt. But logic is not limited to mathematical and metaphysical truth. Albert Einstein arrived at most of his conclusions on the nature of space, time and light not through the scientific method - at the time most of his theories would have been impossible to test - but purely through mathematical deduction and thought experiments that he carried out in his imagination! Einstein's theories have since been empirically verified.

    When it comes to universal truths - Truth with a capital 'T' rather than the mundane facts of every day existence - logic has proven itself time and again to be the superior method. Truth arrived at empirically is always contingent, always vulnerable to the discovery of new facts which might contradict it (and in fact science is always changing its mind on things). Truth arrived at through logic can never be refuted so long as the logic is sound. Notice that, unlike science, mathematical theorems are never refuted. The body of mathematical discoveries has always grown, but nothing is ever discarded as outdated. Calculus did not replace trigonometry, it grew out of trig as a logical extension of it.

    I don't mean to demean the scientific method as useless. Clearly it given us many fruitful discoveries. But as a rationalist, empiricism will always take the backseat when I'm trying to figure something out. This post is long enough already so I won't go into details, but I will say that the exercise of reason has allowed me to solve many longstanding metaphysical question - such as the nature of consciousness and its relationship to matter - that I don't believe scientists will ever be able to arrive at using their methods.