The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Science Has Nothing To Say About Human Purposes and the Universe.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 951 times Debate No: 31607
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




(A) Clarifying the Resolution

The resolution that we have before us today is "Science Has Nothing to Say About Human Purposes and the Universe." By this, I mean to say that science through its methods of deducing facts about the world through means of hypothesis, observation, falsification, and etc., cannot tap into the realm of human metaphysics and its relationship with the universe.

I do not mean to say that "human purposes" and "the universe" are two separate issues in this debate. Rather, I mean that human purposes and its relation with the universe cannot be tapped into by the domain of scientific inquiry, and as such must be left to the domain of philosophy and theology. With this addressed, I will now introduce my case.

(B) Introduction

There have been discussions and debates in history (in various degrees) where one can see a debate between territories of thought cross over on to another, and hence, controversy will emerge. The natural explanations versus mythologies in Greek thought, faith and reason more or less in the Middle Ages, and science and religion most notoriously noted in the mid-19th century Victorian era. My focus however is to examine what scientific methods can we employ in order to understand the more philosophical (or metaphysical) questions about the universe.

From the outset I will theme my answer to the following resolution from Paul Davies's inquiry in his book, “The Mind of God” (1992): “Can we really hope to answer the ultimate questions of existence through science and rational inquiry, or will we always encounter impenetrable mystery at some stage?” (cp. 1992, p. 20).

Like Davies, I accept the idea that different methods of obtaining knowledge must be employed when approaching certain questions. For instance, answering the question “Does God exist?” will be determined far differently than the question “Are electrons heavier than protons?”

Of course, some errors have already taken place thus far into our endeavor. Oxford Biologist and predominant atheist Richard Dawkins in his notorious book, “The God Delusion” (2006) makes the assertion that “the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other” (cp. 2006, p. 72).

The problem with this level of reasoning is that we cannot address such a proposition as “God exists” like any other scientific proposition (e.g. “the speed of light is constant between any two given points A and B”). To suggest that it can be, is what we will call the “Cracker Box Fallacy.” The name of the fallacy comes from a famous debate between Dr. Greg Bahnsen (Christian) and Gordon Stein (Atheist) at the University of California in 1985.

(C) Stating My Position

As you can see, different subjects belong to different methodologies for better understanding those subjects – a mistake made not less than once before. Thus, we are looking at the questions of existence from a scientific standpoint and trying to determine whether or not it is the case that science can take grounds on these sorts of issues. There a couple positions at hand that we can take a look at:

  • (1) Science can say something about these questions.
  • (2) Science cannot say something about these questions.

Now, by proposition (2) it could be said that it is perhaps best not to say that science cannot say something about metaphysical or ‘purposeful’ questions of existence, but rather that it simply has nothing to say about them; science is a subject that by definition has endeavors that are not concerned with the disciplines of philosophical inquiry.

This view predominately can be seen in the work of Harvard Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould’s book, “Rocks of Ages” (1999):

"I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesized, under any common scheme of explanation or analysis; but I also do not understand why the two enterprises should experience any conflict. Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values – subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, can never resolve…" (Rocks of Ages; cp. 1999, p. 4)

As a matter of fact, an interesting passing comment has been by astrophysicist Hugh Ross’s book, “More Than A Theory” (2009).

Some scientists and theologians divide science into two domains: origins science, where theological considerations are permissible, and operations (or ongoing-process) science, where they are not. As with Gould’s supposed solution, this approach creates artificial boundaries between science and theology that limit the extent and effectiveness of education research, and the testing of various creation/evolution models.

(More Than A Theory; cp. 2009, p. 44)

The reason being (as I think Ross is right), is that Gould’s grouping of scientific endeavors with the objective (fact-based) and religious endeavors with the subjective (feeling or experience-based) appears to be an easy way out, but the philosophical choke hold makes such a position as Ross says, “untenable.”

Naturalism as such cannot provide an adequate basis for logic, reason, cognitive faculties, mathematics and so forth. The old age problem regarding the uniformity of nature [according to the naturalists] lies within the scope of empirical verification; whereas, begging the question while using empirical verification to try and solve the problem becomes inevitable.

In other words, the case could be that the “god of the gaps” fallacy (which I think is a misunderstood and confused concept to begin with) is applied likewise to the naturalists; otherwise known as the “nature of the gaps” fallacy. Researchers wrongfully attribute some unknown phenomenon or event to the realm of natural or physical explanations as a first principle. That is to say, that nature (as the argument goes) must fill all the gaps in human knowledge and understanding. That of course isn’t to say science has or will have it all figured it out, but that in scope, science can will attribute all naturally known phenomenon to the domain of the naturalistically explained.

(D) Concluding Thoughts

As you can see, science is not an adequate domain of knowledge-deduction (or induction) to touch on the matter of philosophical or religious affairs. I therefore urge a vote in favor of the resolution. My opponent must show as to why science in fact can say something about these matters, and by what methods it is able to do so.



Science must say something about our purpose because science proves Jesus and Jesus says theres purpose

What is the binding force of the atom? You would probably Gluons. Gluons are a made-up dream. No one has ever seen or measured them... they don't exist! It's a desperate theory to explain away truth! We know that the electrons of the atom whirl around the nucleus billions of times every millionth of a second... and that the nucleus of the atom consists of particles called neutrons and protons. Neutrons have no electrical charge and are therefore neutral --BUT-- Protons have positive charges. One law of electricity is: LIKE CHARGES REPEL EACH OTHER! Since all the protons in the nucleus are positively charged, they should repel each other and scatter into space. If gluons aren't the answer... what is?

The answer is Jesus.

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you to the Con for responding.

(A) Response to Con

I do not know if Con is even serious in his first negative case. His only argument is:
  • Jesus says there is purpose.
  • Science proves that Jesus exists.
  • Therefore, science says something about purpose.

Clearly, this commits and endless list of fallacies. Firstly, it is an appeal to authority. In establishing the conclusion that science does say something about human purpose, he uses "Jesus" as some kind of deciding factor in the matter. However, a number of other religious figures and philosophers have made statements regarding human purpose; what does Jesus have over these men? It is an appeal to authority.

Also, premise (2) is false. Though science can invoke particular methods to validate or invalidate certain evidences for a given historical event person (carbon dating, archaeology, paleontology, etc.), it cannot "prove" (in the scientific sense of the word) that some historical person in the past exists. Even if it did, the conclusion still doesnt follow.

My opponent then later goes on a red herring regarding atoms and their charges. This is not relevant to the debate by any means. Since the Con has not rebutted any of my arguments or established any of his own, I urge a vote in the affirmative.



Other guy says I appealed to authority. Jesus is the ultimate authority. He's not just some authority! The fallacy falls when applied to Jesus. Jesus=science witch = purpose. When someone without Jesus talks about purpose, they are fooling themselves.

The argument isnt proving Jesus did exist in the past its proving JESUS DOES EXIST!

Ive proven it. Other guy fails.

The bible says it,i believe it, THAT SETTLES IT
Debate Round No. 2


ChristusExemplar forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by ChristusExemplar 4 years ago
Then accept the debate! I am merely suggesting that science can enter into the domain of the religious and determine its function; or even make claims of its own like the sort.
Posted by yuiru 4 years ago
I would debate... but what would I say here? That neuroscience is an obvious example off how science journeys to the realm of human nature?
Posted by Nimbus328 4 years ago
This is where the religious step in with a reason for being, namely, god.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Pennington 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:34 
Reasons for voting decision: FF'd, but I still think Pro had a much more evidenced argument. I give Con the argument points because of the FF'd or otherwise Pro would have got it. Pro also had better resources and grammer & spelling. Con had better conduct.