View by:  Subject  Theme  Question  Term  Person  Event

Cross-Explanatory Reductionism

Certain biologists who reject the possibility that religious truth-claims could be valid go beyond a mere preference for a certain level of scientific explanation.

Monod, Dawkins, and E.O. WilsonSee Can Darwinism Rule Out Truth in Religion? (on Monod) - alsoRichard Dawkins and E.O.Wilson against the possibility of the truth of religion.are also what might be called ‘cross-explanatory reductionists’, in that they assert that naturalistic explanations, interpretative and descriptive in nature, render unnecessary explanations which give reasons in terms of purposes.

To them theistic truth-claims are unnecessary and misplaced, and the underlying reasons for them must be sought in terms of behaviours which were adaptive at earlier points in the history of humanity.

This cross-explanatory reductionism presumes not simply that lower-level, gene-based description is adequate, and other explanations such as the religious are therefore redundant, but that the lower-level, the scientific, is adequate and that therefore the religious must be wrong.Dawkins’ strategy for undermining the possibility of religious truth is actually two-pronged: One prong is to show that religion has failed as a scientific explanation in biology. It is not necessary...

The weakness of this sort of argument should be evident. It could be valid only if its particular, often unstated, presuppositions were also accepted. Dawkins’ presuppositions are listed by Keith Ward as:

  • that only material entities have any existence,
  • that the universe lacks purpose or meaning,
  • that scientific explanations are the only proper explanations.Ward, K, God, Chance and Necessity (Oxford: Oneworld, 1996) pp96f. See also Poole, M, Science and Christian Belief 6, (1) pp41-59 (1994).

As Ward shows, theism, which rejects these assumptions, operates on presuppositions of a similarly metaphysical kind, and may be considered to be a simpler and more comprehensive explanation of the universe as we find it.Ward, K, 1996, Chs.4-7, especially Ch.5.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.