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Theism and scientific method


Sir Isaac Newton maintained that the question whether or not there is a God could be settled by appeal to experience. Against this David Hume maintained that experience could never provide a foundation for an inference concerning the existence and attributes of a God. In the history of thought since the eighteenth century, it is Hume's position which has prevailed.
Theism and Scientific Method argues that Hume's critique of Newtonian theism depends on an inadequate account of scientific reasoning and causal inference, and that when the issues at stake in the Newton-Hume dispute are examined in the light of current philosophy of science, it is Newton's position which is the more defensible. To show this, four specific issues are considered: theism and confirmability, theism and falsifiability, theism and objective theory choice, and theism and scientific realism. It is argued that just as the existence of entities such as electrons can be known by inference from observable effects, so the existence of God can be inferred from observable phenomena. The present study does not attempt to show that observational evidence does support theism, but that theism may be regarded as an explanatory hypothesis and assessed as a scientific hypothesis.


(1984). Theism and scientific method

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