Re: MD Science vs. Theism: Where's The Beef?

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Thu May 05 2005 - 23:21:38 BST

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    Hi Matt, Sam, Scott, all,

    On 5 May 2005 at 12:14, Matt Kundert wrote:

    Mark said:
    I am interested in your idea that the polar-cartesian coordinate
    analogy somehow contradicts James.

    Its the other way around. I said that if people think theism and
    science are in conflict, they are in conflict with James, and then
    they are in conflict with such beautifully pragmatist passages as the
    "different maps for different purposes" passage.

    Ok, so you're saying that it's inconsistent for someone to buy the
    polar-cartesian analogy and nevertheless claim that theism and
    science are in conflict. I'm not so sure.

    First we need some clarification. Is what you call the "different
    maps for different purposes" passage something from LILA? Or James?
    I'm not sure we're talking about the same passage. I'm thinking of
    this passage, from ZMM:

    "Then, having identified the nature of geometric axioms, he
    [Poincare] turned to the question, Is Euclidian geometry true or is
    Riemann geometry true?

    "He answered, The question has no meaning.

    "As well ask whether the metric system is true and the avoirdupois
    system is false; whether Cartesian coordinates are true and polar
    coordinates are false. One geometry can not be more true than
    another; it can only be more convenient. Geometry is not true, it is
    advantageous. "

    Now, I find this passage very useful, not only for comparing
    geometries but for comparing metaphysical systems as well. And let
    me say again that I find no real conflict between science and theism,
     except when religious advocates claim their beliefs have a
    scientific foundation.

    However, I don't see how the passage I quoted above clearly refutes
    the idea that there may be a conflict between theism and science.
    That is, in one case we are comparing geometries or map coordinates,
    very similar KINDS of systems. In the other, are we sound in saying
    that science and theism are sufficiently similar for the analogy to
    hold? It's clear that the geometries, though different, are
    internally consistent, Can the same be said for religious systems in

    In short, I think some one can find the ZMM passage useful and even
    true, and without contradiction claim a conflict between science and

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)

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