The presupposition of science-based atheism
Jonathan M. Hanes, November 2015
Jonathan M. Hanes
Jonathan M. Hanes is a researcher and educator with interests in plant phenology, climate change, the philosophy of science, and the relationship between science and Christianity. He holds Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in geography and is currently an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the United States.
Best-selling author Jerry Coyne's latest book, Faith versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible, prompted another round of discussion about the relationship between science and religion (theism, in particular). Are science and religion compatible? Does science preclude the existence of God? Atheists like Coyne hold to a central presupposition about science that merits further scrutiny. The presupposition is that science is an independent, self-verifying arbiter of truth that is inherently rational. For the sake of expanding this debate beyond the usual discussions about scientific evidence, this presupposition must be tested by examining the intellectual structure of science. When this is done, it becomes evident that this presupposition is untenable and leaves its adherents without a rational basis for science. Contrary to the thesis of Professor Coyne's book, theism need not compete with science to ascertain truth about nature. Rather, theism establishes the rationality of science in a way that is impossible in an atheistic framework. Ultimately, the efforts of Professor Coyne and others to dispute theism using science are self-refuting and it’s high time to recognize them as such.
science, presuppositionalism, philosophy of science, atheism, Jerry Coyne