Background Beliefs Ideology, and Science

van der Meer, Jitse
June 2013
Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith;Jun2013, Vol. 65 Issue 2, p87
Academic Journal
The notion that not only facts but also personal and communal beliefs contribute to scientific knowledge has become commonplace. It raises two important questions. How can people with very different belief systems work together in science? Can scientific knowledge be trusted if it is shaped and sometimes distorted by beliefs operating in the background of science? I begin by pointing out that scholars who believe in the existence of a mind-independent reality have the moral calling to oppose distortion in their understanding of natural phenomena. I then explain why background beliefs are required for the construction of theories in science. I argue that background beliefs do not necessarily distort scientific knowledge because God created an objectively existing reality that resists distortion. When distortion occurs, science has standard ways of detecting that distortion. These include convergence of mutually independent lines of evidence on the same explanation, the possibility to disconnect background beliefs from scientific explanation, and the self-destruction of background beliefs that assume a dogmatic function. Next I show that in their work scientists, in fact, do sometimes oppose their personal background beliefs. The conclusion is that the background beliefs of scientists do not dictate the content of scientific knowledge, and that people with different belief systems, including Christians, can work together in scientific research. This is not to suggest a return to a Christian form of neopositivism because it fully incorporates what has been learned over the last decades about the extent to which science is embedded in a sociocultural context.


Related Articles

  • The Religion of, Spiritism. Treacy, Gerald C. // America;12/27/1919, Vol. 22 Issue 10, p203 

    The article focuses on the beliefs of Spiritism. To the Spiritist it is a literal truth that spirits walk this earth, which it claims to be able to remove every doubt. If Spiritism is not a religion it is merely a branch of science and its adherents refuse to admit that. It does not claim to...

  • REASONING AND BELIEF IN NOWADAYS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH-THE CASE OF ECONOMICS. Comsa, Fr. Petre; Munteanu, Costea // International Journal of Academic Research;Jan2015, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p222 

    Many of the present day scientists think that religion can never come to terms with science. In sharp contrast with this widespread opinion, this paper argues that, historically, scientific reasoning and religious belief joined hands in their effort to investigate and understand reality. In...

  • THE CRYING NEED FOR A BELIEVABLE THEOLOGY. Starr, Deane // Humanist;Jul/Aug84, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p13 

    Examines the role of science in the creation of a new theology that can help the human need for cosmic orientation. A human built-in need to overcome loneliness by making the individual feel at home in the universe, is the human feeling that gives rise to religion; What religion provides for...

  • Science and Religion: Drawing the Line. Talavera, Isidoro // Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table;2012, Vol. 2012 Issue 2, Special section p1 

    Areas exist where theistic religion and modern science are clearly not compatible, but demarcation for the defender of the faith may get blurred. In this essay, I provide some overriding reasons why modern science should not be characterized by the religious believer as a religion, faith, and/or...

  • Limits of Science and the Christian Faith. Van Woudenberg, René // Science & Christian Belief;Oct2012, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p129 

    This paper is a discussion of the claim that, given the findings of science, the rational stance to take towards Christian belief is either to abandon it or to reform it drastically. It is argued that science has a number of limits, and that when these are taken into serious consideration, the...

  • Conocimiento y entendimiento: discusiones sobre el concepto de valor epistémico. CRESTO, ELEONORA // Diánoia;may2011, Vol. 55 Issue 66, p165 

    In this paper I comment on M.Á. Fernández's paper on veritism and the value of understanding. I begin by observing that veritism relies on a definition of epistemic value that threatens to trivialize the discussion. Then I proceed to examine Fernandez's arguments with some detail.

  • Belief, Knowledge, and Science Education. Southerland, Sherry A.; Sinatra, Gale M.; Matthews, Michael R. // Educational Psychology Review;Dec2001, Vol. 13 Issue 4, p325 

    Epistemological questions about the nature of knowledge and belief underlie many of the controversial issues fundamental to research and practice in science teaching and learning. In an effort to bring some clarity to questions of knowledge and belief embedded within science education research...

  • Measures of People's Beliefs About Knowledge and Learning. Duell, Orpha K.; Schommer-Aikins, Marlene // Educational Psychology Review;Dec2001, Vol. 13 Issue 4, p419 

    Different measures of people's beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning are described along with the theories upon which they are based. The initial theories tended to be unidimensional developmental theories and their measuring instruments lengthy, in-depth interviews. More recently,...

  • Waiting With Brother Thomas. Sagers, Christopher L. // UCLA Law Review;Dec98, Vol. 46 Issue 2, p461 

    Argues that those schools of thought that is predicated on suspicion of belief to some degree share a range of similarities and are attacked through a set of common criticisms. Clearing the underbrush; Facing doubt on the merits; Illogic of the reductio; Defanging doubt; Consequences.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics