Coherence and prediction

Theologians seek to find a coherent account of things. That is well and good (although sometimes breakthroughs come from actively disregarding certain things – what we think we know isn’t always right, and anyone can sometimes get a breakthrough in trying to solve a problem by saying ‘what if this particular ‘fact’ is actually not the case, even though people tend to take it to be the case?’). That is to say, theologians look to figure out how certain ideas and observations can cohere.

The next step is to find relatively independent confirmation. One might have a nice theory that seems to comport with the observations – which in itself might be a significant breakthrough. Yet, it’s just the first step. Now go out and figure out how to test it, beyond the coherence.

In a nutshell, this figuring-out-how-to-test is the essence of the scientific method, to the extent there is one. To the extent theologians adopt this, they become scientists. To the extent someone does not – especially if they set up a theoretical model that seems to be able to account for any and all new observations – they are just blowing smoke.

2 thoughts on “Coherence and prediction

  1. fschmidt

    I agree. The key issue is whether truth about reality should be verified by inductive reasoning, as advocated by the Old Testament and the scientific method, or by deductive reasoning as advocated by Plato and modern (liberal) culture. I support inductive reasoning. It is my belief that Plato’s influence has ruined virtually all Western cultures – Athenian, Jewish (just read the Talmud), Roman, Islamic (Mu’tazila taken too far in the Abbasid Caliphate), and now Christian. The modern Christian idea that truth comes to an individual from “the Holy Spirit” and doesn’t require external verification is similar to how Plato thought philosophers should find ideal forms. This kind of thinking always leads to disaster.

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  2. admin Post author

    Yes, there are different ways to test. By saying ‘go out and figure out how to test it’ I am talking about, more or less, empirical tests. Of course one can also reason through an issue, and that’s important as well – the two aren’t exclusive.

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