Friday, November 20, 2009

Valid Epistemology

JAD, at Telic Thoughts, recently made a comment containing these remarks:

In the same way, the empirical study of a natural process is, is a cumulative process that is never sufficient, to give us absolute knowledge. It is, furthermore, illegitimate to claim that a philosophical worldview, supposedly based on scientific evidence, is any more certain or reliable than an alternative world view the interprets the evidence differently. And, it is arrogant to argue that the alternative is irrational.

1500+ years ago St. Augustine observed:

“Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.”

It appears that, Mr. Augustine, also understood the limitations of inductive reasoning.

A fundamental reason why knowledge, acquired solely as a consequence of empirical efforts, cannot be deemed superior to alternatives lies with the limitations of empirical investigations. Science is limited and so too is the authority of philosophical positions based on scientific data.

Augustine also was correct in noting that it is our knowledge of nature which sets parameters for what is miraculous. Sometimes though one can be confident in that knowledge. Rising from the dead after several days would be a reliable indicator.