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The Revd Dr Philip I. Chapman

Philip Chapman is a Methodist Minister. He attended lectures from Paul Feyerabend at Bristol in 1956-7. They sparked an interest in philosophy of science. In them Karl Popper’s doctrine of falsifiability as a criterion for scientific propositions featured prominently. Towards the end of 40 years of pastoral work in several countries, he began study of Karl Barth at Leeds under Jacqui Stewart. In 2014 that culminated in a PhD, featuring both Barth and Darwin. under the supervision Neil Messer at Winchester.

The Limits of Science – A Barthian Approach

Birmingham 2016

According to the theologian Karl Barth, Natural Science cannot investigate reality. Rather it investigates phenomena. The primary reality is God’s own self. That cannot be known unless God explains God’s self to us in the event we call “revelation”. Scripture witnesses to that event. In contrast Science is essentially empirical. It orders the phenomena arising from the physical aspects of the created secondary reality. It is fallible. The test of Natural Science is not absolute truth but whether it conforms to human knowledge of the physical world. Cracks and anomalies in the order science finds in the world point to further investigation. So Science moves forward. But the general structure of the physical world remains an unsolved puzzle because we never know the extent of what we do not know, that is to say the secondary reality giving rise to the phenomena.