Thursday Theology.

I normally look at Matt Briggs place today because he has, for years, produced almost every week an extract from the Summa Theologica. But this week he’s not done this, but instead commented on Nature (a science magazine, whose reputation is getting worse) of endorsing Joe the corrupt, because science and Politics are inseperable.

Science is derived from Scientia, wisdom, and the scientific method is a cycle of theorizing, experimenting, correcting the theory ad infinitum. The paradigm shift idea of Kuhn is wrong: the new theories needed to stand on the old theories and account for their findings and the weaknesses in that theory. This idea came from philosophy. But no one reads that now. They see science as a label.

To say science and politics are inseparable, one must know what both are. Politics needs no explanation. What is science?

Some say science is a process. This is wrong. The way you complete the morning paperwork is a process. Renewing your driver’s license is a process. Everything is a process. Being a process is not what makes science scientific.

Here is what science is: a collection of theories about how and why the world works. It’s theories that makes a thing a science. Scientific theories are an amalgam of physics (which is empirical), mathematics (which is not empirical), and metaphysics (not empirical).

That which is not empirical cannot be tested against observation, and thus must rely (in brief) on belief. That’s where the politics comes in. To see that, contrast technology with science.

Technology is science’s close cousin. It often takes the more-or-less true theories of science that are amenable to manipulation, theories of the kind that say “Push here and then this happens because of that”, and puts them to work.

It should be clear that observation, upon which technology relies, is not the same as theory. A person ignorant of theory can “push here” and see that “this happens” or not. He needs no “because that”. Technology doesn’t need theory. If you get something to work, it works, and you need not know, or can be wrong about, why.

Because of this, technology is judged more rigorously than science. It has to work—and here is the key!—but science does not.

The reason for the difference is obvious enough: You can sell a non-functioning technology for only so long before you’re caught (see, inter alia, Theranos). But you can sell theories forever.

I would use the word engineering not technology, but the same applies. It has to work. Most practical crafts have that hard rubric. If it works, we use it. If not, we abandon it.

But this will continue to be challenged. There are lies called scientific. And that is demonic. Which is where Calvin is in the Institutes.

14. That we may feel the more strongly urged to do so, the Scripture declares that the enemies who war against us are not one or two, or few in number, but a great host. Mary Magdalene is said to have been delivered from seven devils by which she was possessed; and our Saviour assures us that it is an ordinary circumstance, when a devil has been expelled, if access is again given to it, to take seven other spirits, more wicked than itself, and resume the vacant possession. Nay, one man is said to have been possessed by a whole legion. By this, then, we are taught that the number of enemies with whom we have to war is almost infinite, that we may not, from a contemptuous idea of the fewness of their numbers, be more remiss in the contest, or from imagining that an occasional truce is given us, indulge in sloth. In one Satan or devil being often mentioned in the singular number, the thing denoted is that domination of iniquity which is opposed to the reign of righteousness. For, as the Church and the communion of saints has Christ for its head, so the faction of the wicked and wickedness itself, is portrayed with its prince exercising supremacy. Hence the expression, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” (Mt. 25:41).

15. One thing which ought to animate us to perpetual contest with the devil is, that he is everywhere called both our adversary and the adversary of God. For, if the glory of God is dear to us, as it ought to be, we ought to struggle with all our might against him who aims at the extinction of that glory. If we are animated with proper zeal to maintain the Kingdom of Christ, v. e must wage irreconcilable war with him who conspires its ruin. Again, if we have any anxiety about our own salvation, we ought to make no peace nor truce with him who is continually laying schemes for its destruction. But such is the character given to Satan in the third chapter of Genesis, where he is seen seducing man from his allegiance to God, that he may both deprive God of his due honour, and plunge man headlong in destruction. Such, too, is the description given of him in the Gospels (Mt. 13:28), where he is called the enemy, and is said to sow tares in order to corrupt the seed of eternal life. In one word, in all his actions we experience the truth of our Saviour’s description, that he was “a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth,” (John 8:44). Truth he assails with lies, light he obscures with darkness. The minds of men he involves in error; he stirs up hatred, inflames strife and war, and all in order that he may overthrow the kingdom of God, and drown men in eternal perdition with himself. Hence it is evident that his whole nature is depraved, mischievous, and malignant. There must be extreme depravity in a mind bent on assailing the glory of God and the salvation of man. This is intimated by John in his Epistle, when he says that he “sinneth from the beginning,” (1 John 3:8), implying that he is the author, leader, and contriver of all malice and wickedness.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Book One Chapter 14

The biggest lie was noted by Lewis. It is the materialist one: that Satan does not exist. He’d rather we were ignorant.

But we are commanded, instead to seek wisdom.