|The basis for science|
| Yes, we all have beliefs, but many people insist that we can we set aside our beliefs when we study science. Many assume that beliefs are personal and that science has nothing to do with belief. We must keep them separate.
Let me ask a question. Do we set aside our belief in an objective reality in order to gain a more objective understanding of our reality? Science does not prove the existence of an objective reality. It must be presupposed: assumed from the start.
Science has a metaphysical basis. For example, science is based on the “inductive principle.” Keith Devons explains:
“The inductive principle basically ‘establishes’ the validity of our observations. It assumes that our senses bring us in contact with the outside world, can discover truth, etc., and that the outside world will be the same tomorrow as it is today - the same physical laws will hold, etc.”
Naturalists want to say that the inductive principle is proved through observation, but we cannot prove that things will be the same tomorrow. Bertrand Russell said, “Hence we can never use experience to prove the inductive principle without begging the question. Thus we must... forgo all justification of our expectations about the future.”*
All human knowledge is built on presuppositions, which are essentially steps of faith. As Einstein said, “All science requires faith in the inner harmony of the world.” Other presuppositions include a rational mind, laws of logic, mathematical axioms, and reliable senses.
It is not our sense experiences that prove our metaphysical assumptions. It is these assumptions that we use to interpret our experiences. We use these assumptions to derive scientific facts, and then we use our theories to interpret facts further.
The modern contention that once we have science we no longer need faith is like saying that once we build a house, we no longer need the foundation. Axioms (accepted by faith) constitute the basis for rational study (philosophy), and philosophy provides the framework necessary for science. Only in people’s imagination does science grow wings and fly free from its foundation.
|* Bertrand Russell, "On Induction," in The problems of Philosophy.|