In my first post I gave a bit of my history on Mormon Matters and explained the players that were there when things began. I also covered my previously mentioned reasons for quitting, which included feeling like my interest and the communities did not match and also feeling like Mormon Matters played a certain important role that I was personally disrupting by my presence.
Was Mormon Matters Balanced?
I had come to the conclusion that Mormon Matters was not intended as a true open discussion about Mormonism. (i.e. it claimed to be a “one stop shop” but in fact wasn’t.) I believed that it was (as I said in my previous post)…
… a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.
To explain why I had come to this conclusion, I’m going to post about a number of related subjects. While I doubt I can convince anyone of my position, if I can at least get you to say “yes, I can see why you’d draw such a false conclusion” I’ll consider these post as having wildly exceeded my expectations. Continue reading
In my last post I finished comparing Popper and Kuhn and again concluded that there really isn’t much difference between the two other than on the issue of Scientific Realism vs. Positivism. That is to say, Popper believes that science actually discovers theories closer and closer to the truth whereas Kuhn believes it becomes more useful over time in ways that we humans wish it to be, but that there is not necessarily some underlying truth to be discovered.
In a previous post I previously considered the advantages of Scientific Realism vs. Positivism. (See also here) Both have pros and cons, but Scientific Realism is the clear winner when it comes to generating new conjectures and theories. If one were to solely believe in Positivism one would never actually believe in their own theories enough to think up new questions/problems to solve and test. The end result would be the stagnation of science.
However, this fact aside, does this mean Scientific Realism is actually true and Positivism false?
Hawking’s Defense of a Positivist View of Reality
Recently Hawking wrote a book called The Grand Design. In that book, Hawking makes a number of controversial assertions. The one that got the most press time – don’t you just love the media? – was the claim that the laws of physics are sufficient to create the universe and that God has no role to play. This is, actually, a very interesting point and one that deserves rigorous criticism – which I’ll gladly give it in the future.
But in reality, this wasn’t the most important challenge that Hawking makes. The really big challenge Hawking makes in his book is that Positivism is actually the nature of reality, not Scientific Realism. We saw in this past post that Hawking is a Positivist.
In my last post, I wrote somewhat glowingly of Popper’s epistemology based on Conjecture and Refutation. In a previous (older) post on Millennial Star I even went so far as to explain why I felt there were some touch points between conjecture and refutation and the Gospel. To summarize, Popper believes all knowledge of all types growths through a process of having problems, conjecturing solutions to those problems, then refuting those conjectures based on the discovery of new problems. Through this process we ‘evolve’ our explanations and they improve over time. The end result is increasing verisimilitude – i.e. closeness to reality – of our knowledge. (I note here that this produces increasing verisimilitude without use of induction.)
Now I will consider the strongest challenger to Popper’s epistemology as elucidated by Thomas S. Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Popper and Kuhn are often considered to be two dynamically opposed views of scientific growth that are in struggle for the heart and soul of science. (See, for example, this book here. I have not read it and don’t intend to.) In actuality, Kuhn and Popper have far more in common than they have different from each other. But Kuhn’s view of science does ultimately pose a threat to the very concept of Scientific Realism and proposes, in it’s place, a Positivist view of the world as our ultimate reality.  Continue reading
In my latest “Reason as a Guide to Reality” post over at Wheat and Tares, I talked about Popper’s theories of how we gain knowledge based on Conjecture and Refutation.
Here we now have a profound touch point between science and religion. Consider the following scriptures.
…all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience…
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.