Scientism is the view that only science is justified to make generic objective claims about reality. According to adherents of scientism the scientific method is the only method that merits epistemic credence when it comes down to describing and explaining the world. Whether scientism is a tenable position depends on the account of science adopted. If science is identified with the hard sciences, that is, physics, chemistry and biology, then scientism is not a tenable view. For, it is impossible for the hard sciences to show that there cannot be epistemic or explanatory success outside physics, chemistry or biology. If, on the other hand, science is more broadly understood as rational inquiry based upon experience and widely accepted intuitions, augmented with mathematical devices and empirical experiments, then scientism may very well be a defensible epistemic paradigm.
In my first postdoc year I aim to explicate the epistemic relationship(s) between the aforementioned two versions of scientism and the epistemic credibility of two well-known rational arguments for the existence of God, namely the Kalam argument and the fine-tuning argument. It is often said that scientism entails that these arguments do not have any epistemic credence. I shall argue that this may perhaps be so if one adopts the first quite problematic version of scientism, but that it does not follow at all if one embraces the second conception of scientism. In fact, as I shall argue, both the Kalam argument and the fine-tuning argument are fully compatible with scientism thus understood. They are both epistemically sufficiently robust to be included in scientific discourse defined as rational inquiry rooted in experience, universal intuitions, mathematics and empirical observations.
In addition, I will assess an interesting recent scientific objection against the fine-tuning argument. According to this objection the fine-tuning argument fails since empirical observations have shown that the fundamental constants of nature may actually not be constant. Large scale measurements seem to indicate that the values of at least some of these constants vary across different regions of space-time. My aim is to investigate the epistemic strength of this objection and its implications for the epistemic credence of the fine-tuning argument.
Further, I shall present and defend, following an excellent suggestion of Robert Koons, an alternative version of my First Cause argument from atomism and causalism as presented in my dissertation. This alternative version does not longer depend on the premise of atomism. I will also argue that the alternative argument fits nicely with the second notion of science and thus cannot be easily rejected as being "unscientific" by adherents of scientism who accept this second notion.
In his new book 'God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason' Herman Philipse argues that in our age of science all (deductive) cosmological arguments fail. As part of my first year project I shall also write a paper in which I show that Philipses "scientific case" against these arguments is wholly inadequate. As I shall argue he has not shown at all that all (deductive) cosmological arguments are untenable.
Finally, De Ridder and myself intend to write together a popular Dutch book in 2013 on rational arguments for the existence of God. In this book a large number of rational arguments will be presented and defended. The relationship with scientism will be adressed as well.