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Jackson Wheat

January 2, 2015
My Counter to The Conflict Between Science and Philosophy
Dr. William Lane Craig and Kevin Harris put out a podcast on their website Faithable
Reason (oh, Im sorry, Reasonable Faith) where they discuss the importance of philosophy to
science. This common attack on science comes from philosophers and theologians who seek
to gain the same political and intellectual influence as scientists. This attack is purely political
and meant to harm the reputation of scientists because science holds something that philosophy
does not: objectivity. Philosophy is clearly subjective because every philosopher holds a
different viewpoint of philosophy, and none of the philosophers can reach an objective
conclusion. There are so many questions asked in philosophy, such as where do we come from,
is there a god, do we actually exist, but none of these questions can be answered by philosophers
objectively. Every philosopher will give you a different answer, and while that part is fine, but
the philosophers cannot reach a consensus of ideas. This would probably lead someone to ask,
If there can be no objective truths of philosophy, is there any point to practicing philosophy?
The answer, in my opinion, is no. We can play with the meanings of words and debate on
semantics all day, but we will never get anywhere.
We will probably never get anywhere because there is no method to testing philosophical
ideas as truthful or not. Philosophers may just say, I believe this because of this; however,
there is not a method that can accurately and objectively produce a result. I can say, I do not
believe in a god or gods, and I know that I cannot disprove the existence of any god or gods. I
can use science, however, to make the existence of a god or gods very unlikely. Dr. Craig would
have you believe that all scientists wrestle daily with philosophical ideas or take their science
from philosophy, but that is demonstrably false. Science did not come from philosophy, but
philosophy came from pseudo-science. Archaeologists have discovered that before the first
recordings of gods, people relied primarily on astrology. Hunter-gatherer tribes would watch the
movements of the stars to determine when winter would arrive, when prey would migrate, when
the rainy season would begin, etc., so it is reasonable to say that philosophy originated in
pseudo-science.
Moving on to Dr. Craigs podcast. Dr. Craig and Harris note at the beginning that
eminent scientists have an anti-philosophical bias. Bias means a particular tendency, trend,
inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned. Dr. Craig and
Harris think that scientists unreasonably dismiss a subject that cannot objectively prove
anything? Well, from their perspective I can understand why they would want to do that; science
puts philosophy out of business. But Dr. Craig thinks that philosophy should aid science by
saying, I think this is a bias that is most unfortunate and really cuts them off, I think frankly,
from self-improvement that philosophical reflection on the data of science could bring. Selfimprovement? How could philosophically studying numbers and charts bring self-improvement?
I am willing to bet that the only self-improvement Dr. Craig can think of is someone finding
his omniscient, omnipresent, transcendental, immaterial, personal, just, merciful god. However,
most of those qualities are contradictory to each other: omnipresence is the the opposite of
transcendentalism (being both inside and outside of the universe), immaterial is the opposite of
personal (being both unable and able to interact with material beings such as humans), and
merciful is the opposite of just (giving everyone better than he or she deserves and giving

everyone exactly what he or she deserves). Of course, Dr. Craig would probably respond to this
by saying, He is God; He can do anything; an answer which completely avoids the problem.
Dr. Craig tries to make his deity perfect by throwing out a hundred descriptive adjectives
that neither address nor attempt to address the problem. He just wants his god to be above
ridicule and question, which is ironic considering what he says later. Kevin Harris quotes from
an interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson where the host says, I always felt like maybe there was
a little too much question asking [without answer finding] in philosophy. This is a rational
position because one might ask, When was the last time philosophy discovered anything that
was not purely a mental exercise without real-world usages? Harris does add to the end of the
hosts monologue [of science] because Harris feels that that was inferred by the host. Dr. Craig
then laughs, Dont ask questions! as if to say that scientists are afraid of receiving questions.
Dr. Craig and Harris are very nave in thinking that scientists do not like questions, and without
questions, there would be no science! Dr. Tyson goes on to say in his interview, My concern
here is that the philosophers believe they are actually asking deep questions about nature. And to
the scientist its, what are you doing? Why are you concerning yourself with the meaning of
meaning?
Dr. Craig acts hurt, but this is a valid point. Philosophers debate and debate with no end
in sight, namely because none of them can show any proof of claims, while scientists evaluate
evidence and come to conclusions. Dr. Craig, like most theists, looks at the conclusion, his god,
and tries to find evidence to support his worldview. He is then shocked when scientists say that
the work Dr. Craig and other philosophers is pointless. Philosophers do think their work is
meaningful and intellectually deep, but they are not going to get to the answer by looking for
immaterial answers in a material universe. Dr. Tyson says that philosophers would rather debate
the meaning of words than actual ideas, and this is actually a point that is somewhat hypocritical.
Cosmologists and astrophysicists debate the meaning of the word nothing, as in pre-Big Bang
space, so scientists do have to debate the meanings of some words; however, scientists can reach
objective conclusions and consensuses while philosophers cannot. Dr. Tyson goes on to explain
the accomplishments of science that have appeared thanks to observation and experimentation in
the last hundred years, while Dr. Craig shakes his head saying, No, nuh-uh, not true. Dr. Craig
then attempts to give evidence to justify his laughable idea.
Dr. Craig claims that cosmology and physics are very deeply tied to philosophy because
they answer the question, Where did we come from? He tells the story of how German
mathematician Hermann Minkowski challenged scientists to think of fourth-dimensional objects
enduring time and sums it up with the assertion that because Minkowski made people think of
math in a different way, philosophy is necessary. Dr. Craig naively thinks that a mathematician
using mathematics to discover new ways to view geometric shapes is philosophy! Minkowski
did not just sit in an armchair and think up a new way to view geometric shapes; he performed
experiments and utilized math to uncover secrets of the universe. Dr. Craig is trying to hide the
fact that Minkowski performed experiments to show the helpfulness of philosophy. This is what
philosophy has come down to: the theist philosophers have to lie or hide the truth to bring
people over to their side. Very unsurprising. His next story is about how quantum physics is
shot through with philosophical assumptions. He says, There are at least ten different
physical interpretations of the equations of quantum mechanics. So because there are different
ways of viewing empirical formulas that yield the same answers, philosophy is useful?
Dr. Craig then pulls the conversation over to physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard
Mlodinow. Dr. Craig says concerning their book The Grand Design, They dismiss all of their

colleagues at their university in another field of scholarship [philosophy] as beneath them and is
engaged in meaningless activity rather than valid intellectual endeavor. Hmwhy could that
be? Could it be due to the fact that philosophy has not reached any objective conclusions in
thousands of years? Harris says with regard to my previous question, That is, philosophy
makes no progress. There is no progress in philosophy. Bill, I have heard that too my whole
life. I wonder why that is. Dr. Craig resonds to that by saying, And what he points out here in
response to that is progress in philosophy will be progress in our conceptual analysis of certain
key ideas or in the nature of science. It is not going to be measured by scientific progress in the
sense of empirical discovery. After all, we've got science for that, right? Rather, it is going to be
a conceptual exploration about why science works, and the nature of science does science get
at reality or does it just give us useful pragmatic instruments for technology? The idea that
philosophy can explain why science works is silly because it demands that there is some ulterior
reason as to why it works. Philosophy demands this of everything. Science cannot explain why
the world works, but it can explain how the world works. Why must there be an ultimate reason
as to why everything works? Asking, Why does science work? is a subjective question, will
not be agreed upon by everyone, and will not make any significant or insignificant
breakthroughs. The next question that needs asking is, If philosophical accomplishments
cannot be measured empirically, how does anyone know that there are philosophical
accomplishments? One cannot know there are philosophical accomplishments if they are not
measurable.
Dr. Craig spends another paragraph talking about a book that disagrees with what he says
the book says. Richard Dawkins said after reading The Grand Design, Darwinism kicked God
out of biology but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de
grace. However, Dr. Craig says, Surprisingly, in their book they come out in favor of the antirealist position. They don't think that there is any more truth to the Big Bang theory of the origin
of the universe than to six-day creationism. Who is likely telling the truth here? They cannot
both be telling the truth because one says that Hawking and Mlodinow kicked philosophy out of
religion, while the other says no one can be sure of anything. This is contradictory to what Dr.
Craig said earlier about how Hawking looked down upon philosophers and should make one
wonder if Dr. Craig just made a Freudian slip. How can Hawking disagree with philosophers
and be on the same intellecual level as them?
Kevin Harris displays yet another proof of his intellectual level by saying, Another
popular myth is that philosophy keeps dwelling on the same questions, the implication being
that, again, it doesnt settle anything and consequently cannot move on to something else. I do
not think that is a myth; philosophers have been debating where we came from since the Greeks
and are no closer to developing an answer. Science, on the other hand, has gotten closer to
answering that everyday over the past 200 years than philosophy has over the past 2000 years.
While the question, Where did we come from? is important, having data to support a claim is
also important. Dr. Craig explains over the course of about four paragraphs that physicists must
argue over the definitions of words and attempts to equate this to philosophy. So just imagine
that every time you look up a word, you are using philosophy. Is that not a silly claim made by
Dr. Craig? He also claims that the cosmologists ask philosophical questions because they argue
over causality, space-time realism, and a tenseless theory of time. Dr. Craig wants everything
cosmologists do to be considered philosophy! What Dr. Craig does is akin to seeing someone
drinking orange juice and asking, Do you have cancer? If the person says no then Dr. Craig is

likely to say, Aha! Orange juice prevents cancer! He wildly associates completely dissimilar
notions because he wants the same intellectual credibility as a scientist.
His next attack on science comes from saying that theoretical mathematics is the same
pure armchair speculation as philosophy. Absolutely true! Because scientists never get
together to objectively reason things outWaitThey do! The remainder of the article is Dr.
Craigs attempts to equate science to philosophy.