Farley’s Ghost


Dan asked what students at NSA and Logos learn about the scientific method. In response to that question, one of the first things they might learn is that the phrases “the real world” and “the material world” are not interchangeable. Embedded in Dan’s question is the clear assumption that the Enlightenment project has its act together. In other words, the scientific method does not apply to matters of faith, but is rather a matter of testing conclusions about the “real world.” Thus leaving matters of faith standing outside in the coldness of that unreal world, shivering in their skivvies.

But our students are taught that the material world behaves predictably– precisely because it was created by our gracious triune God, who does not want us to turn the oven to 350 degrees for an hour, only to open the oven door to find the cake turned into a frozen slab.

And so we teach them that a great deal can be learned about the physical predictability of a tiny slice of the real world, that part of it that we call the material world, and that this is done by the scientific method. At a certain altitude, water boils at the same temperature applied for the same length of time. Experimentation, observation, repeatability. This method has obtained for us many cool gee-whizzeries, for which I thank a kind Providence. But this method leaves me just where I was when it comes to many other aspects of the real world, such as the Holy Spirit, the authority of modus ponens, the dramatic structure of Hamlet (which doesn’t weigh anything), and the history of Farley’s ghost.


Douglas Wilson
Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.

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