Lennox says that a ‘precise definition’ of science is ‘elusive’. He proceeds to show how difficult it is to define science by picking what he considers to be a rather poor definition from the agnostic/atheist Michael Ruse who “holds that science ‘by definition deals only with the natural, the repeatable, that which is governed by law’ (32). You’ve got to wonder why Lennox would choose a definition that he finds inferior, and from a person with a worldview that he doesn’t agree with. Why not cite a better definition or provide your own that you’re satisfied with?
Because if Lennox had done that he wouldn’t have a nice soft straw man to clobber. But I’ll have to leave that bludgeoning for another post; just as one riot gets one Texas Ranger, one post gets one Lennox boo-boo. Unless I’ve previously dealt with more (or less) than one boo-boo in one post. Then I’ve just made up this rule… which I haven’t. But I should have. Except I already have. Oh, look at the time!
Lennox wants to come down hard on Ruse’s use of ‘repeatable’ from the above. Or maybe he wants to come down hard from above on Ruse’s use of the word ‘repeatable’. Whichever it is, Lennox definitely wants to sink the boot into that runt of a quote that he handpicked from the litter:
However, the most obvious weakness in this definition is that, if allowed to stand, it would rule out most of contemporary cosmology as science. It is hard to see how the standard model for the origin of the universe can be describing anything other than a unique event – the origin of the universe is not (easily) repeatable. Cosmologists might understandably be peeved to be told that their activities did not qualify as science (32).
Cosmologists might understandably be peeved at the number of mixed metaphors I’ve misappropriated. They also might understandably be peeved if someone were to inform them that their activities did not qualify as science, so let’s not. Instead let’s inform them that rather than believing cosmology doesn’t qualify as science, Lennox believes it to qualify as ‘science of lesser authority’:
Nevertheless, his [Ruse’s] inadequate definition does serve a useful purpose in that it reminds us that not all science carries with it the same kind of authority. Scientific theory that is based on repeated observation and experimentation is likely to, and should, carry more authority than that which is not. There is always the danger of failing to appreciate this point and thus endowing the later with the authority of the former – a consideration to which we shall return (31-32).
Cosmologists – exposed as the tracers of science! You may or may not be as scandalized as I was that Lennox would treat those earnest cosmologists so shabbily. Still, it’s nice to know the esteem he holds those who practice science, and those who just practice at it as the cosmologists do. Next time they decide to devote their life to unlocking the secrets of the universe they’ll pick one of those real sciences that has repeatable things. And no, Lennox’s purpose for using Ruse’s ‘inadequate definition’ isn’t just to remind ‘us that not all science carries with it the same kind of authority’. Need I remind you. Straw. Man. Later. Foreshadowing! Shazam!!