The religious and theological foundations of natural science

Sharp, John C (1978) The religious and theological foundations of natural science. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis examines the religions and theological foundations of natural science. A mythology has arisen, both popularly and academieally, that locates the historical origins of science in the great humanistic movements of the Renaissance and Eniightenment. Conversely Calvinism and Puritenism are regarded as regressive forces, the enemies of freedom and progress, interested only in rigerons morality and otherwordly piety. Philosophically there is a wide spread divorce between faith and knowledge, religion and science, while sociologically science is seen to advance with the shaking off of the fetters of religious belief. The choice of approach was difficult. I elected for an overview rather than an exhaustive detail of one aspect. This was a choice against specialisation and the abstreative loss of concrete reality. It alse seems more consonant with the topic under consideration. The major divisions are as follows: Part I: An historical section which contextualises the study and indicates origins and motivations of modern science in religious interests - particularly Calvinism. By the nature of such a study there is a degree of ambivalence. Part II: The thesis is established by a review and brief eritique of secular philosophies of sciences. This again is ambivalent though I have scught to plant signposts to the clearer statement presented in Part IV. Part III: A survey of Christian responses to the topic. While remaining within Protestant thought I have tried to do justice to as many divergent positions as is consistent with overall coherence. Part IV: this seeks to establish the religious and theological foundations of natural science on Christian perspectival grounds - viewing religion as the crientation of the heart in a basic commitment to the universe: and seeing in the theology of the sovereignty of God, His law, the dectrines of creation and cultural activity, clear motivations to scientific activity. So this is the crux of my thesis. I also give some practical application in terms of the problems of the environment and technic, and how the fundamental issues pertain therein. I believe the basic contribution to the subject is not, in the first instance, detailed originality but in an original synthesis of materil. Detailed contributions are inter alia: 1. A critical introduction to the thought of 'Cosmonomiem' where that impinges on my topic. The study, based within the parameters of nesyeweerd's 'Cosmonomic Idea', seeks to apply cosmonomism in a more scientific field than that in which most of its proponents work. 2. More specifically I point to my suggested solution of Mackay's complementary model of science and relgions; 3. My causal-perspectival interpretation of the influence of Calvin(ism) which goes further than Merton, Neekyaas or Torrance. 4. My critique of the theological spectrum - liberal and evangelical. I point particularly to my analysis of erangelicals who are largely uncritiqued from within their own perspective and ignored by liberals, despite their vest amount of literature on science and belief; and 5. The exposure of a confusion between 'science' and 'scientia' ; and between 'religion', 'theology' and 'faith'. Inter alia my conclusions include: 1. Religion and natural science (but not theology and natural science) are not separate entities, for the former founds and activates the latter. The whole discussion of science 'and' religion/belief is a false dichotomy and therefore a pseudo-problem. 2. The religious foundation of science does not dictate/coereo scientific scientific theories. While it can give a definite 'no' to some theories, it can only give a conditional 'yes' to theories. 3. There is, strictly speaking, no 'theology of science' but a theological framework within which science can be understood. 4. Unnecessary conceptual problems have been created by seeing laws of nature as antonomous from the law of God. 5. 'The' scientific method is mythological.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Murdo E MacDonald
Keywords: Philosophy of science
Date of Award: 1978
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1978-72433
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 May 2019 15:12
Last Modified: 24 May 2019 15:12

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