THINKING CORRECTLY ABOUT SCIENCE

Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-19770) made a major contribution towards Christian theory of reality (ontology). In his theory, Dooyeweerd proposes that we understand creation as having multiple aspects (law-spheres), where an ‘aspect’ is defined as “a basic kind of properties and laws”. Examples of such kinds are: physical, spatial, biotic, logical, sensory, linguistic, ethical, etc. He distinguishes fifteen such aspects of created reality. They are mutually irreducible both in the sense that none can be coherently eliminated in favour of another and also none can be coherently regarded as the cause of any other.

Dooyeweerd

The core idea is that all aspects are created, since there is nothing that God did not create. This includes matter and life, the laws of logic, and the laws governing all the other aspects. The theory goes on to argue that all things in creation have (active or passive) properties of every one of the aspects and so are subject to the laws of all the aspects. For example, a rock has a specific weight whether we know its weight or not. It is has this property independent of an observer. But its sensory colour is not independent. Rather it appears black in relation to a perceiver. Thus the rock’s colour is a passive property because it requires being acted upon by a perceiver to be actualised. The theory takes note of the observed fact that, as far as we know, only humans have active properties in all fifteen aspects. Second the first six (lower aspects) are governed by laws that cannot be broken such as the law of gravity. By contrast higher aspects such as “ethical” can be violated. Dooyeweerd argues that the aspects lower on the list are preconditions for aspects higher on the list, but that no aspect produces an other. For example, it is necessary for there to be things with active physical properties in order for there to be things with active biotic properties, which are in turn necessary for there to be things that have active sensory perception.

The distinctness of modal aspects is anchored in our experiences with all created things: from a molecule over algae and mammals to humans, each kingdom features new active properties that do not exist in the lower kingdoms, neither can they be imagined – as transitional- properties. A philosophy that presupposes a loving God who has given us the ability to observe, know and experience the world in a meaningful way necessarily leads us to trust our observations. The distinctness and irreducibility of modal aspects and laws tells us, then, that things could not have ’emerged’ or evolved form each other, having their origin in God and without the means of some evolutionary process that cannot account for the step changes in the properties we observe.

I would suggest that the only reason special creation is rejected as the best explanation for origins is a pre-existing bias towards materialistic evolutionary explanations.

Extract from article by Martin Tampier in Journal of  Creation Vol. 30 (2) 2016

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