Defining science. Part 2

The other day Nathanael complained that in the case of Ruse I argue from Lennox’s silence. How serendipitous that Lennox returns to Ruse’s definition, but he doesn’t seem to understand what it is because he says “what does he mean by saying that science deals only with the ‘natural’?” (33). I’ve never read the text where Ruse’s definition comes from, but does Ruse really provide no definition of natural? Whether he does or he doesn’t Lennox is comfortable to make his own with “it surely means at least that the things studied by science are the things found in nature” (33). Seems harmless enough I guess, but Lennox doesn’t stop with the obvious and moves onto what he thinks Ruse is saying “but it may also imply [emphasis mine] that the explanations to be given of such things can count as scientific only if they are couched solely in terms of physics, chemistry and natural process” (33). Lennox is going to build his next few pages on what he believes Ruse implies, from the definition that he never thought was good to begin with.

From now on I’ll imply what Lennox means…

5 thoughts on “Defining science. Part 2

  1. Nathanael

    Ruse’s book is out of print but available.
    So you’ve skipped the paragraphs which claim and not acknowledged that Lennox says that Ruse’s definition “MAY also imply” (emphasis mine).
    He then cites other people who align with that view.
    So perhaps you should follow Lennox’s example, you can focus on his claims and say that they MAY also imply, as opposed to being as dogmatic as you have been about your interpretation of the motivation behind his style?

    Reply
  2. Nathanael Small

    Amazing how we’re reading the same word but arriving at completely different interpretations. “May” softens the whole sentence for me.
    Where I see attempts to cover both sides and be respectful in trying to represent definitions, you see rhetorical bait & switch.
    I feel like I’m part of the Les Mis film critique crowd.
    Perhaps this all goes back to your belief that Lennox is intellectually dishonest in stating theism as his position but being Christian by stealth.
    With 20/20 hindsight we should’ve started with Gunning for God, where Lennox is more explicit, then the differences would be clear.
    I’d be interested to hear the origins off Lennox’s Canon (three are two additional books) as works like this are often prompted by different issues.
    Might provide helpful context.

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      No, I don’t believe that ‘may’ weakens because I think Lennox intellectually dishonest. I’m pretty sure I can separate my non-feelings about Lennox from his choice of words. And ‘may’ may well soften the sentence, but for what purpose? So that he doesn’t offend Ruse for the implication? So that the reader isn’t put out by the harsh language on offer? There’s no need for additional politeness here.
      Lennox is following a line of reasoning. A line of reasoning that will continue for the next page or so based on what he believes is implied by Ruse. Implied. In front of that ‘imply’ he chooses to put ‘may’ which means ‘possibility’. Softened? Maybe. Weakened? Definitely.

      Reply

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