God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Consistency Among Disciplines

Everyday thousands of scientists around the globe perform experiments and observations of the natural realm. They note a certain condition, make (or allow) a change, then note the new condition. Many times, the same experiment or observation is conducted repeatedly to be certain the results of the first (second or third) were not just "flukes". Scientists combine many of these to come to conclusions about the natural realm. But what is it that allows these conclusions to hold any validity? They are based on experiments and observations, but what allows those to be trusted to reflect the natural realm?

Consistency In Nature
The entire scientific enterprise is based on one assumption: the natural realm is consistent. That means that in multiple instances when all conditions are the same, identical results will be produced. Experiments and observations are repeatable. You can be certain that if you perform the same experiment in the precise same way a second time, you will get the same results. If scientists were able to produce water from the combination of two hydrogen atoms with one oxygen atom in one experiment, then gold with the same ingredients in the second (then another substance third, and so on), they could conclude that this was not a consistent phenomena. Further, if scientists found that their experiments, when performed exactly the same way, produced different results without any consistency, they could conclude that the natural realm was not predictable, and investigation of it is futile.

Misengaged in Battle?

This post originally posted June '09. It has been updated with some new content and links to the updated posts. 

Here's something to think about:

When engaging someone in a discussion or debate, should you focus on their understanding of their own worldview, not the "correct" or "accepted" understanding of their worldview?

Greg Koukl (in his book Tactics) says to focus on the person's understanding. His reasoning is that focusing on another understanding (whether its "correct" or not- it makes no difference) will make the person believe that you are either ignoring their concern, or trying to belittle them by telling them how to believe what they believe.

Positive and Negative Arguments

I briefly touched this topic in my post "Is Consistency Important?". Today, I want to expand it a bit more.

A Positive Argument is an argument for your particular position. A Negative Argument is an argument against an opposing position.

It seems like everywhere I go, people want to point out what's wrong with the opposition's arguments. It does not matter if we are talking about political views, religious views, or any other view that is tied to a deep conviction. So many people focus so tightly on the opposition that they forget about their own point of view. This is not a very good strategy. The reason I say this is for one simple reason. Let's say you have a plan to accomplish something, and one of your teammates expresses great dissatisfaction with your plan and even provides every reason in the world not to use it. It would come natural to you to ask if your teammate had a better plan. If no other plan was proposed, then the team would have to stick with the original, no matter how many flaws it had.

Challenging One's Own Worldview

Something that I have noticed a lot in society today: people hold positions and swear that they never question or challenge their views (many believe that is a sign of how strongly they hold them). Unfortunately, for many of these people, you can easily believe that. Many of these same people are afraid that if they challenge their view, that they will find that it may not be the best or it may not even be true. I knew many Christians as I grew up who were like this. They tended to accuse others of not having "faith" because they questioned or challenged Christianity (see my post "Is 'Blind Faith' Biblical" for my answer to these people).

Is Consistency Important?

In my posts and in my discussions about worldviews, I stress consistency. When I say "consistency" I'm talking about the beliefs within a worldview being logically compatible with each other and beliefs being compatible with the adherents' behaviors (see the Psychology Class Series).
One of the "worldview tests" that Kenneth Samples discusses in his book on worldviews, "A World of Difference", is a test for internal consistency. Any worldview that claims to accurately reflect reality (be true) must maintain consistency among its beliefs. Truth cannot conflict with truth. So, if a worldview were to say that 2+2=4 and that 3x2=5, it would have a serious problem. The fact that the second claim is false has no bearing on the truth of the first claim, it only has bearing on the truth of the worldview as a whole. Any worldview that contains two contrary beliefs that cannot be resolved within the framework of the worldview without creating more contrary beliefs must be discarded.