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Dialogue with Atheist: Are Christians “Unscientific”? 3

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- If knowledge that God exists is innate or is properly basic, it would not be scientific, would you agree? Note that it might be true that god exists, yet reaching that conclusion through innate knowledge or it being properly basic would still not make it scientific. Agreed?

I’m not sure how all that would apply if you replace “scientific” with “rational.”

It can be defended philosophically / rationally (this is what Plantinga does in his book, and what many other theistic philosophers have done). It’s not scientific per se, but it is not incompatible with science: especially considering that science begins with unprovable non-empirical axioms (e.g., basic assumptions of uniformitarianism and order and trusting our senses as accurate in terms of observation), and utilizes other necessary non-empirical elements such as logic and mathematics.

In fact, modern science unquestionably took off in a thoroughly Christian society, with Christian starting assumptions. This was no accident or happenstance. And it’s why virtually all the major fields of science were founded by Christians or non-Christian theists.

There are also other scientific-type theistic arguments that figure into the mix: like the cosmological and teleological. I don’t think they prove His existence, but they make it more likely and plausible than not, in my opinion.

- So if a properly basic belief is not scientific, and an innate belief is not scientific, then it should be proper for an atheist in a disagreement to characterize them as such in a conversation. You said,

“Atheists generally pride themselves for being the “rational” and “scientific” people and constantly imply that Christians are neither.”

Now, I would agree with your comment above to the extent that if one is not rational in some conversation, that does not justify painting with a broad brush to say that the entire person is wholly not rational. All of us operate rationally sometimes, and not rationally at other times.

But if a Christian justifies their belief on the grounds of innateness or properly-basic-ness, then they must accept the characterization that they are not being scientific. I’m sure the next thing to be said is that everything doesn’t have to be scientific, and that’s another conversation, but at least the characterization by atheists is accurate.

Rational is a whole ‘nother topic that will be more difficult to wade through, at least for me.

It’s the distinction between “this thing x is either scientific in nature or not (i.e., empirical, replicable, etc.)” and “x is anti-scientific, or the holder of x is anti-scientific or frowns upon science simply because he holds (among many other beliefs, including scientific ones) x, which is not technically within the purview of science.”

Minus this distinction, I can say that the atheist is “unscientific” or “against science” or “against empiricism” when he espouses either logic or mathematics: neither of which is empirical or “scientific” and both of which begin with unprovable axioms.

Yes, not everything is scientific (which is self-evident), and as I already stated, science itself must necessarily begin with, and constantly employ axiomatic and non-empirical elements; most notably mathematics and logic. Science itself collapses into philosophy. It is the philosophy of empiricism, which itself is built upon non-empirical elements at its outset.

One easy way to readily see this “dilemma” (i.e., the dilemma for “empirical only” epistemological tunnel vision) is to ponder the claim, “all knowledge is empirical.” This itself is not a species of empiricism or empirical knowledge. It’s a philosophical and epistemological statement dealing with what we can know, and the alleged sweeping parameters of empiricism. How would one test such a statement “in the lab” or empirically? One cannot. It’s an axiom that is unable to be proven, and it is a non-empirical axiom, making a statement about the supposed relation of the philosophy of empiricism with the real world and the sum of all knowledge.


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