Karl Popper: Science, Ethical Principles and Truth

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karl popperKarl Popper (28 July 1902 Vienna – 17 September 1994 London)  was an Austrian-British philosopher.

 

Searching for truth is a most relevant human value, central to the scientific enterprise. Speaking against scientism, Popper says:

“The fact that science cannot make any pronouncement about ethical principles has been misinterpreted as indicating that there are no such principles; while in fact the search for truth presupposes ethics.” [1]

This is very important. Empirical science is meaningful above all as a search for truth, and this is a central ethical value in human life. The term “truth” is one of the most frequently used in the encyclical Fides et ratio ; in the English text it appears 365 times (without counting terms derived from truth). Pope John Paul II, in a few words full of philosophical meaning, writes: “One may define the human being, therefore, as the one who seeks the truth.” (Fides et ratio, no.28)

taken from: Mariano Artigas, The Mind of the Universe – Understanding Science and Religion, 2002

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Reference:

[1] Sir Karl Popper, Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind. In: “Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge.” (eds: Radnitzky, G. et Bartley III, W.W.; La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing, 1987), p. 141.

Teilhard de Chardin on scientific research

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“We Christians have no need to be afraid of, or to be unreasonably shocked by, the results of scientific research, whether in physics, in biology, or in history. Some Catholics are disconcerted when it is pointed out to them – either that the laws of providence may be reduced to determinisms and chance – or that under our most spiritual powers there lie hidden most complex material structures – or that the Christian religion has roots in a natural religious development of human consciousness – or that the human body presupposes a vast series of previous organic developments. Such Catholics either deny the facts or are afraid to face them. This is a huge mistake. The analyses of science and history are very often accurate; but they detract nothing from the almighty power of God nor from the spirituality of the soul, nor from the supernatural character of Christianity, nor from man’s superiority to the animals.”

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in a lecture on 27 February 1921 in Paris titled “Christ and Science”

Source: http://www.inters.org

William Henry Bragg: We Need Both Religion and Science

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On 12 March 1942, Sir William Henry Bragg (1862–1942) passed away in London, UK.

With his son, William Lawrence Bragg (1890–1971), William Henry Bragg was co-awarded the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics, a unique Nobel honor shared by a father and son: “for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays.” The mineral Braggite is named after him and his son.

Quote from Sir William Henry Bragg (1862–1942):

“From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.”

Source:  “The Art of the Physicist.” (Abdus Salam). New Scientist. Vol. 35 (20 Jul 1967): 163.

Relationship between Science and Faith: the ‘conflict-myth’

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There is a popular conception that the historical relationship between science and religion has been one of conflict or even all-out warfare. Historians of science call this commonly held notion the “conflict thesis.” In this video, historians of science Lawrence Principe and Edward Davis examine the historical roots and social context of the origin of the conflict thesis. They explain that the beginning of the conflict thesis can be traced primarily to the popular works of two 19th century Americans: John William Draper and Andrew Dickson White. It is shown that Draper and White’s conflict thesis and the language of warfare falls far short of historical reality. Nevertheless, the popularity of these two works and the global influence of Draper and White’s thesis has ensured a lasting legacy that still informs our current understanding of how science and religion typically relate.

Alfred North Whitehead on some scientists…

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On 15 February 1861, Alfred N. Whitehead (1861–1947) was born in Ramsgate, GB.

Educated at University of Cambridge (BA, 1884/ScD, 1898), he was an important 20th century philosopher, physicist and mathematician who co-authored with his former student Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) the monumental text of formal predicate logic “Principia Mathematica” (1910–13), an effort later undermined by Gödel’s incompleteness theorems (1931).

He elaborated process philosophy, which had a particular influence, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, on how the relationship between God and nature was conceived, proposing an image of God as a “principle of concrescence” in a continually developing world.

“Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.”

Referenced:
“Alfred North Whitehead – The Influence of Western Medieval Culture Upon the Development of Modern Science.” Inters. org: Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Science & Religion.
Whitehead, Alfred North. The Function of Reason, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1929), 9.