In 2011, vaunted scientist Stephen Hawking announced the death of philosophy. His premise is that philosophy has not kept up with modern physics. Hawking, judging from his writings, is probably quite happy about the death of philosophy.
I am in no position to argue with Hawking’s science. What I am in a position, I believe, to do, is compete with Hawking, and many other current and popular scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, on a philosophical level. It is precisely because of the death of philosophy, that brilliant scientists such as Hawking draw fallacious conclusions.
First, let me admit that philosophy and science are intimately linked, like Siamese twins; two entities sharing common systems. It is impossible to speak of science without invoking some philosophical insights. Many new scientists despise this idea. To them, philosophy involves metaphysics, which is related to that dreadfully unscientific thing called religion.
These scientists want to keep science and religion separated. It enables them to control the message, which is that if a person is religious, he is by definition anti-science. And since we all know that science is “true”, we must conclude that suppositions of scientists are true, and that those reached by theists are false. What many modern scientists cannot abide is that religion can be based on science.
But science, in and of itself, tells us little about what conclusions we should draw from scientific revelations. Science does a rather poor job in answering the child’s first question: Why?
Why is the grass green? Because of chlorophyll, of course. But why?
Why should I not kill the human next to me, and take his wallet? The Nazis divorced high science from real philosophical or religious thinking. The result was Zyklon-B and gas chambers. They knew, from science, to a sufficient degree, what the poison gas would do to human bodies, but they could not decipher the reasons not to use it in such a way. Science cannot save humanity, hence the invention of the atom bomb and artillery shells and reality television….
Why is there something instead of nothing? Ask scientists why often enough, and you will get a response similar to the frustrated parent answering a string of whys from a 5 year old: “Shush“. Like that parent, some scientists don’t want to admit that they don’t know the answers. I am always amazed by the juvenile understanding that some world class scientists seem to have of the philosophic weaknesses of their arguments. Why do humans like music? Why do humans have language? Science rarely makes itself look so ridiculous as when it exercises itself through “evolutionary psychology” or makes any attempt to explain the exact reasons for a certain trait in a species.
The death of philosophy not only harms science, it harms religion. Christians, in many cases, find it difficult to defend their beliefs, with notable exceptions. Even a tertiary knowledge of philosophy would better arm them.
Indeed philosophy’s demise even results in faulty intelligence analysis and bad military strategy for America. A 50 minute class on deductive reasoning from a teacher who knew what they were talking about, may have saved the United States billions of dollars and thousands of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If the unexamined life is not worth living, modern America seems a wasteland of meaninglessness. Little Johnny cannot determine why knowing and understanding American history is more important than anything that can be gleaned from Jersey Shore. We have and will reap the whirlwind because of this.