Primary and Proximate Causation … and the Myth of Scientism

“In former times, Aristotle’s distinction was normally granted, that science consisted in the knowledge of the thing through the proximate cause, while wisdom, on the other hand, stretched toward ‘the knowledge of the thing through the primary cause.'”

Herman Bavinck
Christian Worldview — 48

Bavinck goes on to say that because of the aprioristic speculation found in the philosophy of Hegel there was a counter-reaction that found primary causation being given the heave ho in favor of the proximate cause as the basis of all knowledge.

Behold the entry of Scientism.

However the problem with depending on the proximate cause alone for true truth is that all proximate causes are, by necessity, dependent on some primary cause for their being and definition. One can not have a proximate cause that exists without first finding its meaning in some primary cause.

And so Scientism must always fail because Science is a proximate cause that is only as good as the primary cause that produces the Science it produces.

Science that doesn’t presuppose the God of the Bible is a science that can justify Ilya Ivanov, String theory, and punctuated equilibrium found in modern Evolutionary theory. Science cut loose from its proper primary cause will be a science that isn’t very scientific.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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