Science in Christian Perspective
Essay Book Review
THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF MEN AND THINGS by Gordon H. Clark, Eerdmans 1952, 325 pages, $4.00.J. O. Buswell, Jr
Reply by Clark
From: JASA 5 (December 1953): 7-13.
Dr. Clark is a well trained, born again, philosophical scholar, whose writings and lectures are always stimulating. After an introduction, he presents chapters on the philosophies of history, politics, ethics, science, religion and epistemology. In each field he shows familiarity with important literature. A wide range of reading is evidenced.Flashes of Illumination - Politics
The reader will find genuine flashes of illumination such as the following from the chapter of philosophy of politics;
In the nineteenth century the memory of Autocracy was vivid, and after several nations had rid themselves of tyranny, the acknowledged aim of government was to maintain order so that free individuals could arrange their personal, social, business, affairs as they saw fit. Today, however, the disadvantages of absolute government have been forgotten, and so-called liberals, who are truly reactionaries, aim to establish a so-called democracy on the principles of Louis XIV. . . . As the love of liberty grows dim under socialistic suffocation, as coercion increases, the more brutal it will become. (P. 71)
What the Federal Council of Churches calls Christianity, and what the American Council of Churches calls Christianity are two radically antagonistic religions. (p. 84)
But the illumination is not consistent. Dr. Clark takes flash light views, but often misses the path. He rejects the doctrine, enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, that governments "derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." (p. 127f) He rather cynically remarks that "Democracy made the naive assumption that the mass of the electorate could choose men capable of managing a nation's affairs". (p. 133) He declares that 'the authority of magistrates does not derive from any voluntary social compact, but it derives from God". (p. 136) 1 do not subscribe to the "social compact" theory of Rousseau in any sense of the word. I do defend the doctrine enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, as being based upon the Scriptures. True, the Apostle Paul declares that governmental powers are "ordained of God". (Romans 13:1-7) But it is just as true that Peter refers to the king and the governor as creatures of man. (I Peter 2:13, 14) It is doubtless this last Scripture which the founding fathers had in mind. There is here no contradiction. Putting the thirteenth chapter of Romans together with the second chapter of I Peter, we derive the consistently Christian doctrine that God has ordained that governments shall rule and that they shall be instituted through human instrumentality.
Missing this point Dr. Clark arrives at the strange doctrine that the state is a "necessary evil".
The Christian answer is that the state is not a positive or unconditional good, but rather a necessary evil. To do justice to the Christian view one must insist on both adjective and noun. The state is an evil not only because of the abuse of power by the magistrates, but also because it interferes with freedom and introduces an unnatural superiority among men. But the state is also necessary under actual conditions because without civil government each man's evil nature would turn his freedom to intolerable actions. The existence of the state is a partial punishment and cure for sin. (p. 138f)
Dr. Clark seems to teach that all coercion among human beings is evil. "War is only one example of a more general condition. War is a species, as it were, of a wider genus, and that genus is brutality." (p. 69) 11 . . . brutality is a species of the wider genus of coercion." (p. 70)
Dr. Clark's notion that the state is a necessary evil,
and that all coercion among human beings is evil, certainly does not square with the general picture of things
set forth in the Bible. The Greek text of Ephesians
3:14, 15 tells us that "every fatherhood in heaven and
upon earth is named (that is, derives its character)
from The Father". Now certainly coercion is analytically a part of the idea of fatherhood as the word is
used in the Scriptures. Moreover, among the angels
who know no sin we have indications of authority,
government, and relationships involving superiority,
subordination, and presumably reasonable coercion. The
words "angels and archangels" are not meaningless. All
references to the future kingdom of Christ in which
we shall reign with Him, exercise judgment with Him,
and rule over numbers of "cities" with Him, in the
future state of blessedness, are rendered either false or
meaningless by Dr. Clark's philosophy of political
Clark on Inductive Theistic Arguments
My primary purpose in this review is to analyze Dr. Clark's philosophy at science, Out such analysis will be clearer after his theistic pnilosophy is investigated. Tne defect in his understanding oi inductive reasoning from effect to cause, which so seriously wrecks his philosophy of science, is clearly evidenced in his philosophy of theism. Dr. Clark vigorously rejects ail arguments from nature or the created universe as effect to the existence of God as cause. He says
. . . Protestant theologians . . . usually repudiate natural theology and assert that the traditional proofs of God's existence are not logically or "mathematically" demonstrative. (p. 251)
This statement involves two propositions which I mention in reverse order: (1) that traditional arguments from nature to the existence of God are not logically or mathematically demonstrative. This proposition is practically undisputed. It is not only the position of Protestant theologians-it is the position of Thomas Aquinas and the Roman Catholics. Clark is quite wrong in saying in the context that the idea that these proofs are not logically or mathematically demonstrative is "contrary to the Catholic" position.
But the other proposition involved in the quotations now under discussion, (2) "Protestant theologians . . . usually repudiate natural theology," that is theology arguing from nature to the existence of God, is perfectly preposterous and entirely contrary to facts of which Dr. Clark has full cognizance, if he had only stopped to think. Who are these "Protestant theologians . . . usually . . . "? The greatest Calvinistic tradition of Europe includes the names of Kuyper, Hepp and Bavinck as outstanding Protestant theologians. Nothing which these three consistently taught could possibly be regarded by a balanced judgment as usually repudiated by Protestant theologians. Among the greatest theologians in American Protestantism were Hodge and Warfleld. Their influence is so vast, so profound, that to describe a position which they consistently defended as usually repudiated by Protestant theologians is quite absurd.
John Calvin did not repudiate natural theology. In his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, dis cussing Romans 1:19-21, he says
. . . man was created to be a spectator of this formed world, and . . . eyes were given, him, that he might, by looking on so beautiful a picture, be led up to the Author Himself . . . God is in Himself invisible; but as His majesty shines forth in His works and in His creatures everywhere, men ought in these to acknowledge Him for they clearly set forth their Maker . . . God has presented to the minds of all the means of knowing Him, having so manifested Himself by His works, that they must necessarily see what of themselves they seek not to know . . . (Commentary on Romans 1:19-21)
Calvin's entire comment on the 19th Psalm is in substance an elaboration of the cosmological and teleological arguments. He says
There is certainly nothing so obscure or contemptible even in the smallest corners of the earth, in which some marks of the power and wisdom of God may not be seen - . . the heavens proclaim to us the glory of God . . . by openly bearing testimony that they have not been put together by chance but were wonderfully created by the Supreme Architect. (Commentary, Psalm 19)Paul quotes the 19th Psalm in the 10th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. In commenting on the latter passage Calvin says
But in order that He might show that the school, into which God collects scholars to Himself from any part, is open and common to all, he brings forward a prophet's testimony from Psalm 19:4;
the prophet . . . (speaks) of the material works of God; in which he says the glory of God shines forth so evidently, that they may be said to have a sort of tongue of their own to declare the perfections of God.
. . . God has already from the beginning manifested his Divinity to the Gentiles, though not by the preaching of men, but by the testimony of His creatures; for though the Gospel was silent among them, yet the whole workmanship of heaven and earth did speak and make known its Author by its preaching. (Commentary, Romans 10:18)
And yet Dr. Clark says that "Protestant theologians . . usually repudiate natural theology!"
In the same context Dr. Clark says " . . . sin has so vitiated human powers that man can reach neither the heavens nor his own heart aright." Quite to the contrary our Lord declared "Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time" (Luke 12:56 see also Matt. 16:3)
Clark holds that God could not and would not present man with any evidence other than God's own witness t6 Himself. He says
On the assumption that there is a God, and more particularly on the assumption that God exists as described in the Bible, what 'evidence" could he give to man that he was God? . . . How then could God show to a man that it was God speaking? Suppose God should say " . . . I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee." Would God call the Devil and ask Abraham to believe the Devil's corroborative statement? . . . What reason can this man have to conclude that God is making a revelation to him? (p. 258)
Now, of course, the Devil should not be regarded as a reliable witness, but the fact remains that God appeals to circumstances open to our common observation as evidence that He is God. Christ said (John 10:37, 38) "Believe me for the very works' sake." Moses required that Israel should test whether the words of a prophet were the words of God by inquiring first whether the prophet was true to the living God, and second whether the prophet's predictions came to pass. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:15-22, especially vv. 21. 22) Isaiah clearly required that circumstantial evidence, namely, conformity to the Law and the Testimony, should be used by the people to discriminate between the voice of God and the voice of a false prophet. (Isaiah 8:20) Throughout the whole history of Revelation God has graciously condescended to submit His credentials in the form of factual circumstantial evidences, open to critical public investigation.Examining Presuppositions
It will be appropriate at this point to call attention to a fallacy assumed in common by Dr. Clark and a considerable number of sincere Christian teachers of philosophy and theology in our generation. The fallacy is contained in the words in which Dr. Clark objects to anyone requiring a "proof of a first principle". (p. 259 and frequently throughout) Now it is true that when one begins a process of reasoning he must begin somewhere, he must make some assumptions, he must have some presuppositions. But the notion that presuppositions, or first principles, or initial assumptions are not subject to questioning or re-examination is totally without support. It is merely a blithe and nimble means by which the man whose house might proved to have been built upon sand excuses himself from examining his foundation.
Dr. Clark, for example, assumes the law of contradiction as a basic presupposition and first principle. In all ordinary cases we start with that principle in the background and go on to examine other things. To prove that a proposition violates the law of contradictories is to prove to most people that it is false and not worthy of acceptance. However, certain influential persons whose views violently diverge on other matters are now challenging the law of contradictories. Karl Barth in one horizon and Dr. Van Til in another horizon are challenging this foundation. Shall we simply say "not fair"! By no means. In dealing with those who do not presuppose our presuppositions, we say, well then, for the sake of the argument, though we do not for a moment give up our foundation, let us suppose that these foundations are not reliable. What then? We then proceed to show that all discourse based on the assumption that the law of contradictories is not reliable is either (1) mere words without meaning, or Q) inconsistently based on a secret unacknowledged assumption that the law of contradictories does hold after all when found convenient.
I stand unequivocally with those who believe that there must be certain first principles and basic presuppositions in all reasonable discourse, but I totally repudiate the assumption that these foundations may not be questioned or re-examined or substantiated and reinforced.Clark's Constructive Reasoning
Let us examine an instance of his own constructive reasoning. Dr. Clark is generally characterized by strong and rather cynical negativism. I have elsewhere criticized his lack of constructive support of any great system of Christian doctrine. In the present work he does occasionally desist from tearing down, and reason constructively. In my opinion the best example of an effort of his to establish something positive is found toward the end of the last chapter under the heading of Epistemology. Dr. Clark begins this passage (p. 318)
Obviously if skepticism is to be repudiated and if knowledge is a reality, truth must exist. An ancient Greek Parmenides was the first to state it, and Plato repeated it: if a man knows, he must know something: to know nothing is not to know. Knowledge therefore requires an existing object, and that object is truth-truth that always has and always will exist.Categories of Existence
The fallacy in the above argument is covered up (1) by the lack of definition of the word exist and (2) the failure to distinguish truth embodied in propositions from truth not yet so embodied.
When a philosophy teacher states that anything exists, he is morally bound to define the category in which it exists. Does it exist as a substantive entity matter or spirit? As an atribute? As a relationship: above or below? Or as in some other category of being? Now obviously propositional truth exists in propositions after the propositions have been formulated and not before. Non-propositional truth, when it exists, exists in a number of different categories, It was true that the western continents existed before that truth was ascertained or stated in a proposition.
Does Truth Change Always or Never?
Dr. Clark proceeds next to refute the argument of the Instrumentalists who say that truth is continuously changing. He saysIf truth changes, then the popular instrumentalism that is accepted as true today will ' be false tomor row. As Thomism was true in the thirteenth century; so instrumentalism is true in the twentieth-century; and within fifty years instrumentalism, in virtue of its own epistemology, will be false tomorrow... these relativistic theories tacitly assume-their own absolutism . . . (p. 319)
On the assumption of instrumentalism, Dr. Clark argues, the truth of instrumentalism will become false, the notion that truth continually changes will change and therefore there will come a time that it' is true that truth does not change. Dr. Clark does not consider seriously the possibility that some kinds of truth are changeable. He proceeds
It follows then truth must be unchangeable. What is true today always has been and always will be true. Any apparent exception, such as, It is raining today, is an elementary matter of ambiguity. Two and two are four; every event has a cause; and even, Columbus discovered America, are eternal and immutable truths. To speak of truth as changing is a misuse of language and a violation of logic. (p. 319)
Now this is quite amazing! I thought there was a time in history when it was not yet true that Columbus discovered America; and I have considered it rather fortunate that "It is raining today" is not eternally true. Why not speak with some discrimination? Thank the Lord ' there are eternal verities-truth about the character of God-truth about character of truth (such as the law of contradictories) -truth about eternal relationships-these things are eternally true. Moreover, truth about the past is eternally true in the -future, though it was not true until it came to pass. However, truth about changing conditions, if stated in the present tense, changes with the conditions, and to deny that it changes is more absurd than the preposterous Position of the instrumentalists. To me it is quite reprehensible for a philosophy teacher to dismiss these im portant distinctions as merely "an elementary matter of ambiguity". Why not clear up the ambiguity instead of making it worse?Is All Truth Mental?
The idealistic philosophers have argued plausibly that truth is also mental or spiritual. Without a mind truth could not exist. The object of knowledge is a proposition, a meaning, a significance; it is a thought. (P. 319)
Let the reader apply one of Dr. Clark's familiar, clever devices to Dr. Clark's proposition. "Without a mind truth could not exist." This proposition is alleged
to be a truth. If this proposition is true, then without a mind it would not be true. Therefore, under the hypothetical assumption that there were no mind, the proposition that there was no truth would not be true.
Dr. Clark has here in a very superficial way confused truth with knowledge. By commonly accepted usage, knowledge (expressed in propositions) is an activity or an achievement of mind. On the contrary, truth, in ordinary usage, may not be formulated in proposition. It may be what a mind lacks, what a mind is seeking by diligent research to acquire. The fact that we believe that God has always known all truth does not in the least imply that being known to a mind is of the essential character of the truth as such.
Dr. Clark argues elsewhere that if God is known through nature this would make God dependent upon nature. Pursuing the same process of reasoning (with which I do not concur) Dr. Clark should argue that if God is known through the existence of truth, this would make God dependent upon truth.Do identical Thoughts Recur?
The next step in Dr. Clark's constructive argument is to declare that identical physical motions can never recur but identical thoughts do recur. No two persons may have the same motion but two persons may have the same thought. He concludes
It is a peculiarity of mind and not of body that the past can be made present. Accordingly, if one may think the same thought twice, truth must be mental or spiritual. Not only does it defy time; it defies space as well, for if communication is to be possible, the identical truth must be in two minds at once. (P. 320)
The argument is certainly inconclusive. It is no more evident that my thought of Mt. Shasta today is the same identical thought of Mt. Shasta which I had yesterday than that motion of waving my hand today is the same identical motion it was yesterday. To declare from such an argument that "truth must be mental or spiritual" is, it seems to me, a screaming example of non sequitur. The truth that America was here was not in any human mind before America was discovered. It was in the mind of God, not because there is anything about a truth which would wipe it out if it were not known, but because God is omniscient.Is All Truth Nothing But God's Thought?
The final step in Dr. Clark's argument from the existence of truth to the existence of God is stated as follows:
The truths or propositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thought of God. And insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God's mind. Since, further, God's mind is God, we may legitimately borrow the figurative language, if not the precise meaning, of the mystics and say, we have a vision of God. This involves a view of the world radically different from that of popular science. (P. 321)
I must immediately take exception to the statement "God's mind is God" simpliciter. God's mind is God minding; God's will is God willing; God's mercy is God exercising mercy; God's compassion is God feeling compassion, But to say simply "God's mind is God" is grossly misleading. It is like the Eddyite saying that since God is love, therefore Love is God.
I also take strong exception to the statement that all the truth which we may know is "the eternal thought of God." It is true that God has purposed all things in His eternal decree, but to say that the truth which I may know is nothing but God's thought would imply a denial of the actuality of creation. I know, for example, just now that I am using a dictaphone; I know that this is within the decrees of God, but for me to know that I am using a dictaphone is not the same thing as for me to know the decree of God that I shall use or shall be permitted to use a dictaphone. Neither is it the same as knowing God's thoughts to the effect that I shall do thus and so, or be permitted to do thus and so.
What does Dr. Clark mean by "contact with God's mind" and "a vision of God". Does a wicked man or Satan himself know any truth? Certainly the Bible teaches that this may be the case. Does he then have 41a vision of God" or have "contact with God's mind"?Do We Think God's Thoughts?
Dr. Clark does well in saying that his view of our knowledge of truth is "radically different from that of popular science". His view is also radically different from that of the writers' of the sacred Scriptures. It seems very pious to repeat the old mystical saying "We think God's thoughts after him." But the implications are not only unscriptural but radically irreverent. When a boy thinks "I am going to college" and his father thinks "John is going to college" they both refer to the same ontological truth but the boy's thought is not to be identified with the father's thought. When I think "I am endeavoring to straighten out a tangled mess in the thinking of my Christian friends," I hope my thought is true and worthy and in harmony with God's thought, but I should be quite irreverent if I presumed to say that my thought is identical with God's thought. According to the Scriptures God says: "My thoughts are not your thoughts . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are . . . My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8, 9)
Looking back over Dr. Clark's constructive efforts to prove* the existence of God from the existence of truth, we must say that it follows the pattern of the cosmological argument. Taking truth as an existing datum, Dr. Clark draws the inference that because truth exists therefore God exists. I certainly believe that it is reasonable to draw inferences from effects to cause in the processes of inductive reasoning, but I must say that Dr. Clark's example is far weaker and less cogent than the cosmological and teleological arguments as usually presented in the writings of the great Protestant theologians.Clark's Shifting Definitions
Preliminary to Dr. Clark's chapter on the Philosophy of Science, I would suggest that the reader must first of all be made aware of the fact that Dr. Clark frequently shifts his definitions, especially his definitions of truth, logic, proof, and similar related terms. In his Christian Philosophy of Education, after vigorously rejecting the traditional inductive arguments for the existence of God because they do not constitute a mathematical "demonstration", (P. 39) he changes his definition of logic and argues that if a dice player rolls seven three times in succession, then "upon philosophic reflection the other players come to the logical conclusion that such a uniformity of results demands a uniformity of causality." (P. 70)
Now Dr. Clark knows perfectly well that three sevens in a row are not mathematical demonstration that the dice are loaded, nevertheless he uses the heavy phrases "philosophic reflection", "logical conclusion", "the uniformity of results demands a uniformity of causality". All of this after he has saidThese arguments (the arguments from the facts of nature to the existence of God) cannot be merely half correct; there is no such thing as semi-validity. An alleged demonstration is either valid or invalid.
If it be valid, the conclusion is, established, and that is the end of it; if it is invalid, that is the end of it too. I'hose who think that each argument has some value should learn from plane geometry what is meant by demonstration (P. 39)
Those who argue from the fact of three sevens in succession "that it seems more reasonable to attribute the constancy of the phenomenon to a cause inherent in the dice" are approved for "philosophic reflection" and "logical conclusion". But those who find value in natural theology, those who hold that the facts of nature make it more reasonable to believe that the God of the Bible exists than to believe otherwise, are told by Dr. Clark in the same book (P. 39) that unless their arguments can produce a demonstration analogous to a demonstration in plane geometry, their arguments are "perjurers".
Returning to the book now under review we find the shifting of terms even more extreme. The 'Conclusion" of his chapter on "Science" consists of two paragraphs. In the former he says "No scientific or observational proof can be given for the uniformity of nature . . . science . . . is incapable of arriving at any truth whatever." (p. 227) But in the very next paragraph, in the concluding sentence of this chapter he saysA philosopher stated the exact truth when he said, "The moral (or immoral) purpose in every philosophy has constituted the true vital germ out of which the entire plant has always grown (P. 228)
Shifting definitions in intellectual and spiritual matters without giving notice is a worse sin than making a left turn in heavy traffic without signalling.Clark's Criticism of Scientific Method
Let us now turn directly to Dr. Clark's destructive criticism of scientific method. The first step in his reasoning is the setting up of a false claim which some scientists have sometimes made, the claim of absolute certainty for scientific conclusion.Straw Man - Absolute Judgments
Karl Pearson in his Grammar of Science (Macmillan 1911) made the, statement (p. 6) that . . . "the formation of absolute judgments . . . is the aim and method of modern science." (Clark P. 200) Professor A. J. Carlson, past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in an article entitled "Science and the Supernatural," originally printed in Science in 1931, reprinted in the The Scientific Monthly in 1944, saidThe scientist tries to rid himself of all faiths and beliefs. He either knows or he does not know. If he knows, there is no room for faith or belief. If he does not know, he has no right to faith or belief. (Clark, P. 200)
I will briefly pass by the fact that this latter statement from Carlson is exactly the same in sentiment as Dr. Clark's statement quoted above from his Christian Philosophy of Education (p. 39) "an alleged demonstration is either valid or invalid . . . " The difference is that the statements of Pearson and Carlson might be taken as emotional hyperbole whereas Dr. Clark's statement is adhered to consistently whenever he deals with the question of scientific method or the question of the inductive theistic arguments.
Dr. Clark knows perfectly well that the opinions quoted from Pearson and Carlson are eccentric. In a footnote he explains that "James E. Conant, On Understanding Science" expresses "a contrary view." (P. 212) Later in a flash of illumination Dr. Clark recognizes "there is no Science to which final appeal can be made; there are only scientists and their various theories". (P. 227) Nevertheless he devotes a considerable amount of space to discussions which seem to refer to "Science" as a kind of entity. He proceeds
Perhaps the easiest way to commence the discussions of this extraordinarily complicated subject is to dispose, first of all, of a popular notion that probably no longer commands wide acceptance. It is essentially Pearson's notion that science gives absolute judgments. The conclusions of science have often been regarded with an awe that takes them for final and infallible truth - science simply cannot be wrong. (P. 202)
Just what would a popular notion without wide acceptance be like? It has been a popular notion that, speaking hyperbolically, "science cannot be wrong"., "Science," meaning the achievements of contemporary scientific men, has often been regarded with too great awe. But this is not the same thing as the belief in literally absolute judgments.
Clark takes Pearson's notion that science gives absolute judgment, in a literal sense, and proceeds to demolish it very successfully. But the notion of "abso lute judgments" in the literal, philosophical sense, has never been "popular."The Process of Physical Measurement
The first step in Dr. Clark's process of demolishing,
his straw man is an examination of the process of
physical measurements. It is a fact pointed out by many
competent scientists that all measurements of material
things are approximations. Temperature, moisture, and
other factors so multifariously affect the measuring
instruments and the things measured that in many
cases the measuring index accepted for scientific purposes is an arithmetical mean, or an average of many
different measurements. By selecting the arithmetical
mean the scientists say, in effect, "Although no abstract
number will precisely correspond with the dimensions
of this physical object under all circumstances, yet the
arithmetical average of many careful measurements
will correspond sufficiently closely so that further calculations may be made upon this basis with results very
closely approximating real physical conditions." The
selection of an average measurement is based upon
much experience with the measurement and manipulation of physical things. It is by no means an arbitrary
Is Mathematical Formulation Merely Aesthetic?
Dr. Clark does not know why the average measurement is selected as the one with which science may proceed. He says " . . . can the scientist do anything but trust his aesthetic taste?" (P. 207) At the meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation in New York, in 1951, Dr. Clark made the same statement that mere aesthetic taste is the basis of the selection of an average measurement as an index number.
Is Science Totally False?
Dr. Clark continues to argue that in plotting a curve in a system of coordinates the dots on the scale really represent areas of measurements rather than geometrical points. This, of course, is true in part. The dots represent averages of measurments. Now, says Clark . . . through a series of areas, an infinite number of curves may be passed. . . . The scientist wants mathematical accuracy; and when he cannot discover it, he makes it. Since he chooses his law from among an infinite number of equally possible laws, the probability that he has chosen the "true" law is one over infinity, i.e. zero; or, in plain English, the scientist has no chance of hitting upon the '-real" laws of nature. . . . The point of all this argument is merely this: however useful scientific laws are, they cannot be true. Or, at the very least, the point of all this argument is that scientific laws are not discovered but are chosen. . . . scientific laws must indeed be false. (P. 208f)
This is exactly like saying that since on any given highway the wheels of an automobile may make an infinite number of slightly divergent tracks, therefore the statement that Route US 30 leads from Philadelphia to Chicago cannot possibly be true. Careful scientific men do not state the mathematical formula for the law of the pendulum as absolutely true of all physical pendulums regardless of friction, air resistance and other factors. In fact, when I was taught the law of the pendulum in physics class it was carefully explained that this law is true, "other things being equal." The law represents a central tendency in the behaviour of pendulums and is approximately true of carefully made physical pendulums which are protected as far as possible from disturbing forces. The law of the pendulum when stated as a central tendency ceteris paribus is as true as the statement that Route US 30 leads from Philadelphia to Chicago. The "chances" of its being true are not one over infinity but one over one, that is, it is perfectly true and there is nothing false about it.Do Facts Exist?
It were, bad enough if Dr. Clark merely drew the conclusion that "science is all false . . . by its own requirements it must be false" (p. 210) but he proceeds next to argue "that absolute facts do not exist" * (P ' 227) The Heisenberg principle in modern physics reveals the fact that it is impossible to determine both the mass and the velocity of an electron, because of the difficulty of measurement. The measuring process destroys the data in the one case or the other. It is true that some philosophers including John Dewey, and some physicists who speculate outside the realm of physics, have raised the question whether, or dogmatically asserted that, the mass and/or the velocity of an electron are figments of the imagination. It is equally true that outstanding physicists and philosophers have pointed out that the Heisenberg principle gives no valid grounds for doubting the existence of mass and/or velocity. The difficulty is in the measuring process. Unfortunately Dr. Clark has followed 'the path which John Dewey before him pursued (I have discussed this matter at length in my book on the Philosophies of Tenant and Dewey) and Clark, like Dewey, calls in question the fact of mass and the fact of velocity.
Bridgman of Harvard in his very stimulating book The Logic of Modern Physics has pointed out that the concept of length is the concept of comparative measurement. Whenever we give the length of anything we give it in terms of comparison with something else. John Dewey erred in interpreting Bridgman as teaching that length itself, not just the concept of length, is a mere matter of the operation of comparative measurement. Unfortunately, again Dr. Clark has followed the path which John Dewey erroneously followed. It is true that the operation of measuring tne electron is. quite different from the operation of measuring the length of a table, but it is also true that scientists are in the habit of expressing the results of both kinds of measurements in fractions, or multiples of meters. Dr. Clark's conclusion is quite false when he says
... therefore the microscopic and telescopic lengths are conceptually different matters. With the result that it is only by confusion that we apply the name length to both. . . . But since the operation used in measuring these two sets of "lengths" are different, it follows that there is no "distance" between the earth and the sun. . . . If a new instrument should be invented for the measuring of stellar distances, the result would not be the "length" of previous experimentation,. A new method of measuring means that something different is being measured, for "the concept is synonymous with the corresponding operation". (P. 214f) This is as absurd to one who works with scientific measurments as to say that when I change from measuring by a meter to measuring by a yard I am no longer measuring the same "length". The concept changes, but the thing measured does not change with the concept. But Dr. Clark continues
and if Bridgman's method should be applied to other items, no doubt some of them would vanish too. The question comes whether anything would remain in existence. According to the thrust of operationalism it would seem that only operations themselves could survive the annihilating analysis. (P. 215)
Dr. Clark's conclusion is not to reject the operational view of the concept of length. He has misunderstood Bridgman in saying "length turns out to be just the operations themselves." (P. 216) His conclusion is that "scientific procedure cannot obtain truth," and that the existence of the facts which science endeavors to measure should be questioned, - "absolute facts do not exist." (P. 227)Does the Physical World Exist"
This leads back to the theological and epistemological considerations with which this review began. For Dr. Clark "the truths or compositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thought of God." (P. 321) Dr. Clark frankly confesses, "there is some affinity between this view of the world and contemporary personalism in that the basic categories are mental and that personality and -history are emphasized above the corporeal and mechanical." (P. 322f) In personalistic philosophy the world investigated by science is nothing but spirit and thought. Clark's proposition "the basic categories are mental" is a denial of the basic category of created matter.
I must close by giving Dr. Clark credit for the following sentence:
The Christian view differs from the various forms of personalism in refusing to equate the physical world with the eternal consciousness of God. (P. 323)
But I regret that I must make it clear that this disconnected assertion of Dr. Clark's is totally un supported by, and wholly contrary to, the system of philosophy of science which he has, sought to develop. If the truths which we may know "are the thoughts of God," (P. 321) and yet, according to "the Christian view" the physical world is not to be identified witli the eternal consciousness of God, (p. 323) then we are left with the conclusion that the physical world is totally outside of what Dr. Clark says we may know. If the created physical world exists as other than God's thought, and hence as unknowable, then the Biblical doctrine of creation is false. If it exists as nothing but God's thought, we have personalistic pantheism and not Biblical Christianity.
Dr. Clark has missed a great opportunity in failing to see that the Christian doctrine of creation of the material world, the doctrine that man was created to live in the material world and glorify God therein, is wholly in harmony with the scientific view that the material world may be known with a reasonable degree of accuracy and precision. The Biblical view of men and things is not contrary to scientific method as many great scientists understand and employ that method.
J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.