Several times here, we’ve discussed the bifurcation of Science and Philosophy, for example, here. From at least 1250 until about 1530, an educated European knew, if he knew anything at all, that all truth is one, in the sense that the Truth is One. Therefore, we, to paraphrase St. Charles Borromeo, would rather believe that we’d always misunderstood Scripture than doubt the plain evidence of our eyes.*
Then, along came Luther and the Reformers who needed *desperately* for this not to be true, because they needed to claim the primacy of Scriptural truth as they saw it over anything man could come up with – not only natural science, but history, logic, reason, and most especially the confluence of those disciplines in Philosophy. Thus, the weird silence of post-Reformation philosophers (except for the occasional snide dismissal) on Thomism, the type and apex of the perennial philosophy’s insistence that all truth is one.
So, it is sad but not surprising to read this, via the Statistician to the Stars, tamer of horses, about our current model for lying for the sake of noble end:
[Tyson says] undergraduates should actively avoid studying philosophy at all. Because, apparently, asking too many questions “can really mess you up.”
…He proudly proclaims his irritation with “asking deep questions” that lead to a “pointless delay in your progress” in tackling “this whole big world of unknowns out there.” When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, “I’m moving on, I’m leaving you behind, and you can’t even cross the street because you’re distracted by deep questions you’ve asked of yourself. I don’t have time for that.”
The important thing is for students to learn to bow before the man in the Sacred Lab Coat of Science! It just won’t do to have the little people trouble their logic and reason infested heads over whether, you know, the claims being made in the name of Science! are, in fact, true or even if such claims could possibly be true in any rational scientific sense. Because then they start acting like you, the scientist wielding the holy Erlenmeyer Flask of Truth, owe *them* an honest account. That simply won’t do, not when we’re about to destroy the world** if we don’t act NOW on what the spokesdroids of Science tell us to do!
I’ll throw Tyson a bone: insofar as modern college students are much more likely to be exposed to ‘philosophy’ as created by Hegel, Marx and their evil, evil spawn, he’s right to warn them off. And I’m actually on board with efforts to formalize the de facto split in our universities between those subjects that can in theory be validated by experience, and those that cannot – all natural sciences fall into (or should fall into) the first camp, while the various studies wherein the deconstructionists and Marxists and Freudian lurk belong elsewhere, where their stench need not be smelt.
* One effect of this proposition that is perhaps not obvious is that it not only does not demean Scripture in any way, it *protects* Scripture from a teaming swarm of bad heuristics. Calvin said that the truth of Scripture is not vouchsafed by any reason or logic, but directly by the Spirit. Effectively, reason and logic and the evidence they depend on can be, MUST be, ignored when they contradict or restrict in any way this week’s plain sense of Scripture according the Reformation flavor of the month. This is, in fact, what happened – but, applying Calvin’s principle again, we can see that we must ignore history as well when it is used to challenge our interpretation of Scripture. Here, we have the Church saying, on the contrary, God writes His Truth in all His Creation, so that there is an essential harmony between what can be known through the senses and what can be known only by revelation. Thus, Albertus Magnus and any number of his followers trained at the great medieval universities could happily study anything they came across in Nature without fear of any threat to their faith – indeed, the expected and found deeper faith in the knowledge of the world.
** for all values of “world” = “grant money”.
Note: for those souls for whom is is unclear: in the titles to these Science! essays, I’m working my way through the lyrics to the classic Thomas Dolby song “She Blinded Me with Science!” It’s poetry in motion.