Only Two Scenarios?
It seems like every time I walk into a bookstore these days there are a handful of new books on the shelf, confidently explaining how science has shown this or that religious understanding of the world to be unfounded, misguided, false, naive, etc. The obvious response to such claims—and one that is frequently made—is to question just how it is that science could “prove” or disprove anything about an overall worldview within which science is located.
Edward T. Oakes makes this point, among others, in an interesting article about science, theism, atheism, and over at First Things called “Atheism’s Just So Scenarios.” According to Oakes, we humans crave an “overarching story within which to order our facts.” Science cannot provide this overarching narrative; rather, it has to be slotted into one of two options:
It seems to me that only two truly overarching scenarios exist to explain how science as a human activity fits into the world. Moreover, each one is by definition impossible to verify by science, since it is science that is seeking admission into the overarching scenario, rather than providing its own. These two narrative frames are: the biblical one of linear time culminating in an eschaton directed by God’s providence, and Nietzsche’s scenario of pointless humans weaving their scenarios against an unfeeling universe….
The battle is still between nihilism and theism. There is no third option.
Is Oakes right about this? Are there other options? Thoughts?