Thursday, July 8, 2010

ultimate and proximate causality

"Science can't explain away God if God works through proximate causes to carry out his ultimate purposes."

An interesting quote from this video.


  1. Science isn't trying to explain away God. It's the religious people trying to ignore science who pretend that it is.

    But if science comes up with "proximate causes" that are sufficient on their own to explain how things happen, why would you go an extra step and posit God working behind the scenes? Yes, it is technically possible -- and science doesn't dispute this -- but it's, well, hardly parsimonious.

  2. Greetings, NFQ! Thanks for stopping by.

    I agree that many religious people falsely assume that science (esp. evolutionary biology) is a threat to religion. The point of the quote is that science (properly understood) can't eliminate God as an ultimate cause, so religious people don't need to fret about the discoveries of science.

    "...why would you go an extra step and posit God working behind the scenes?"

    Good question. The answers to this question would be as different as the individuals giving them. I don't believe there is one uiversal answer to this question. Furthermore, I can't think of any compelling arguments that make it a logical necessity to posit an ultimate cause. However, I believe that, for many, the experiences of life (beauty, love, friendship, et al) provide an experiential reason for belief in the ultimate purposes of God.