Science in Christian Perspective



L W. Knobloch, Ph.D.

From JASA 10 (December 1958): 18.

The Foundations of Science
By Sheldon J. Lackman , Detroit, Michigan, Hamilton Press, 1956

This is a small book of 130 pages designed to acquaint the young college student with the nature and operation of that which is called Science. Despite the fact that it is slanted at the college student, it is a book which may profitably be read by all scientists and all those interested in science. Many teachers of elementary science courses cannot give a clear lecture on the nature of science because (1) they were never instructed in the anatomy of science by their teachers and (2) they are now so busy teaching facts that they feel they cannot spare the time to learn about it. A careful reading of Lackman's book will dispel many erroneous notions now extant about the nature and operation of Science. A few examples of what one may find in the book are as follows: The Axioms of Science- 1. The reality of space, 2. The reality of time, 3. The reality of matter, 4. The quantifiability of matter, 5. The general regularity of the Universe (we can roughly duplicate experiments), 6. The reality of cause and effect relationships (the existence of deten-ninism), 7. The belief that man can eventually gain an understanding of the physical and biological world (we are optimistic).

In another part, Lackman gives the Characteristics of Science as follows- 1. Science is amoral, 2. Objectivity, 3. Carefulness and vigilance in investigation, 4. Skepticism toward absolutism, dogmatism, authoritarianism (one avoids over-generalizations), 5. Concept of theory construction and utilization (unite isolated areas by means of theories), 6. Concept of parsimony (economy in the use of unverified assumptions) 7. Concept of reductionism (the making of laws, the amalgamation of related generalizations into principles or laws).

He compares science with other ways of dealing with human experience. Science, he says is empirical first hand information. It is opposed by authoritarianism which says all is known and no further search is necessary. It opposes intuitionism which says no sensory observation is necessary-all is innate. It stands in contrast to rationalism which asserts that knowledge can be acquired through reasoning processes by inference from a priori concept and lastly, it opposes subjectivism, the idea that the validity of knowledge depends upon one's feeling states and no confirmation is necessary.

One more example will do. He belabors the extremists in science methodology when he says that although theories are deductive in function, they are either accepted or rejected in the extent that supportive evidences are acquired (or fail to be acquired) through the inductive method of science. In other words, I would add, that theories are never displaced by another theory per se but only by the accumulation of data gathered empirically, which data may be sufficient to enable one to erect another theory.

I have devoted so much space to this book because it is my opinion that most books dealing with the nature of science are slanted at too high a level for the student or are so wordy that the main points are obscured by the verbiage. I might add that Lackman is at Wayne University in Detroit. The address of the Hamilton Press is 800 Fox Bldg., Detroit, 1, Mich.