Science and the Idea of God

Science and the Idea of God

Science and the Idea of God

Science and the Idea of God

Excerpt

In the preface of a book published some years ago under the title, The Meaning of God in Human Experience, I suggested that pragmatism as a method of reasoning is half true: negative pragmatism, holding that "what does not work is not true," has a validity which cannot be claimed for the positive maxim that "what works is true."

Of negative pragmatism we have many daily examples. Malaise in one's physical machinery admonishes that one's habits -- and the theories which support them -- are somewhere wrong: it does not tell one how to set them right. A man who has failed is driven to re-examine his premises; they are in the position of hypotheses not verified, and therefore under suspicion. A man who has succeeded is much inclined to credit his theories as validated by the event, little aware how much those circumstances which constitute his "luck" have spared those theories from effective test. The positive argument is unsafe; the negative argument is safe, for it does not pretend to usurp constructive functions; it merely warns that we must think again.

But if the discovery that our hypothesis is wrong is at the same time a discovery of why it is wrong, negative . . .

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