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philosophy vs science vs theology

An astrophysicist has been in the news lately for blasting philosophy and theology, following some harsh reviews of his latest book by philosophers. I'll probably blog more about it later, but for now I was wondering: what do people think the difference is between these three areas? I'm not interested so much in whether you think they're good, but more where you draw the line between the different areas.

An example: I'm researching the ontological argument. Basically, this argument says two things. First, that (given a certain definition of "God"), it's logically impossible that this definition not refer to something that actually exists. Whether or not you think this argument makes sense, is it theology? Or philosophy? Or is it in some sense science? And why? (Something can be science without being good; for example, the idea that the world is only 6,000 years old may be scientific; it's just bad science.)

I'd really like to know. What do you think of when you hear these words and where do you draw the line between them?


May. 2nd, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
It does come down to a definition, doesn't it? Which is precisely what I'm trying to ask. I wonder if deep down I was trying to be provocative to get a discussion going; it wasn't conscious, but my subconscious can do weird things at times!

One definition of science I like is a statement is scientific if you can come up with some experience that would in theory disprove it. If it's the kind of thing that can be falsified. Richard Dawkins once said, when asked what would disprove evolution, that rabbit fossils in precambrian-era rocks would do the trick. He didn't actually expect to ever encounter something along those lines; but he could imagine it, meaning evolution was falsifiable (and so scientific).

I'm not a scientist so I have a hard time imagining what test you'd use, but I imagine if there's some test that could disprove the universe is fourteen billion years old (the current estimate since the Big Bang, according to Wikipedia), it should be just as testable if it's any other age; that other age would be wrong but just as scientific.

That's just my working definition of science, though. I'm more interested in what other people think.



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