Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Subjectivity, Science, and Theology

Michael Polanyi wrote about
physics and used big words.
“It is a travesty of the scientific method to conceive of it as a process which depends on the speed of accumulating evidence presenting itself automatically in respect to hypotheses selected at random.” (Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, Kindle 709.)

Polanyi points out that in the scientific method, hypotheses do not arise objectively, but are created by scientists. Tests of these hypotheses are also not random. A scientist who tested random ideas with random tests would not be a good scientist. Thus, the scientific method does not rest objectively on reason, but also on subjective human judgment. (This is okay to Polanyi because personal knowledge is legitimate.)

First, what do you think of Polanyi’s critique of the scientific method? Is that a worldview-changer?

Second, this makes me think of theology. Our systems don’t come out of a vacuum, but start as ideas of men and women trying to make sense of God’s revelation. Texts and experiences are subjectively elevated over others as “proof” of a system (why is Romans so important?). In the end, can we separate the theology from the theologian? Is that a problem?

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