Are you familiar with the philosophical and scientific belief of Underdetermination?

Taken from the book, 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology…

Underdetermination The belief that for some sets of data, there are many hypotheses that adequately explain the data but are mutually incompatible with one another. Most of our theories of the world-philosophical, commonsensical, or even scientific-are underdetermined by the evidence that supports them. They are consistent with the facts, but the facts are not so compelling that their competitors can be shown to be logically inconsistent with the facts.

When two such theories are in competition, no appeal to the evidence, therefore, could determine the winner. Biblical interpretations and theological statements are underdetermined by the biblical data. Scripture is a mixture of history, myth, poetry, moral instruction, praise, hyperbole, prophecy, and so forth. Sorting through this array of genres requires some sort of *hermeneutical method. The inerrancy or infallibility of Scripture are of themselves incapable of delivering *God’s *truth. Without a hermeneutical method, the inerrant or infallible biblical data cannot communicate truth claims. Even if the biblical text is God speaking (even if Scripture is inerrant), one must still make hermeneutical decisions about whether God’s speaking is intended as a depiction of the nature of God.

Suppose God intends to impart information about God’s nature, is this information literal or metaphorical? Indeed, judgments must be made about how the Creator could possibly communicate information about God’s self to God’s creatures; how has God accommodated God’s self to human cognitive limitations? How does one tell if there has been accommodation or not?
Underdetermination may account for the apparent intractability of theological disputes. Consider the standoffs between Catholics and

Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox, Calvinists and Arminians, Baptists and Anabaptists, and classical and open theism. Theologians on both sides of these disputes believe their doctrines to be the only adequate explanation of the biblical data. However, if their competitors also adequately account for all of the biblical data, no appeal to the evidence could resolve the dispute.

See also Anthropomorphic Language; God, Nature of; Hermeneutics; Pragmatism; Reductionism; Religious Language; Simplicity. Bibliography. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Kelly James Clark;Richard Lints;James K. A. Smith. 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology (Kindle Locations 2143-2150). Kindle Edition.

Here is another great place to learn more about it if your interested: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-underdetermination/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s