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reductionism and methodology

Reductionism and its Problems with Methodology

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There is a silent but deadly prowler on the move, so silent it has infiltrated the psyche of popular culture unquestioned, untouched and unblemished. It has lulled the inattentive masses to sleep with its charm of an empty promise of liberation from the religious sects. In its underhanded attempts to eradicate supernatural interference, the naturalistic establishment has been on the prowl with its aim to ferociously try to explain the totality of the known reality in terms of natural processes, and it has taken a giant leap into absurdity. The underlying beliefs of this orthodoxy are that every answer to the obvious aspects of our realities to be forcefully explained in very mechanistic ways by the means of the natural sciences alone. As a result, naturalism has prodded science to entertain and try to answer questions that are not necessarily scientific questions.

What would otherwise be deemed to be good science has been reduced to zealous reductionist pursuits clearly aimed more for pleasures of self-illusions of scientific fulfillment in being able to answer the deepest riddles of life, rather than for the honest appraisal of the real world by various interdisciplinary means.This age has seen naturalists use science as a mere toy to reduce every nuance of human experience to mere biochemistry. Since such enormously fallacious claims are best exposed by sarcasm I feel obliged to entertain the absurdity of the implications of such reductionism in the like manner. In the spirit of reductionism,

“abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789.”

I just reduced what would otherwise be the representation of most of the known information content in the English language and essentially most knowledge to the bare essential component parts. Do these letters and numbers have any meaning to anyone in this context? Do they represent the essence of the whole? They, indeed, cannot. You see, a book is not merely the letters and numbers therein; it is the complete whole. It cannot be understood independently even by its composing sentences or paragraphs.

These are not just pixels on a screen that the biochemicals in your brain are somehow interpreting, better yet, at their core nothing but some 1s and 0s, or if you’re actually reading this in print, merely ink blots. But even the perfect formulation of those letters would give away some semblance of order and meaning on the greater scale that would be elusive under a microscope. The essence of the whole is humorously inescapable (almost) in reality unless we go out of your way to meaningfully do scientific research to nullify it altogether. Then we can reduce it to a paradox.

Reductionism and its Failed Methodology

Taking a thing apart to try to see how it works is wonderful, but we quickly run into such absurdities when we try to define that very thing by merely its composing parts. Though there is some scientific validity in the methodology of reductionism, most of it vanishes fairly quickly once we try to broaden the horizons of the explanatory power. Trying to reduce complex, multifaceted phenomena to their constituent parts in order to define them is not rational. Take, for instance, water; it is made up of oxygen and hydrogen, both of which are gasses. Yet water is a liquid with entirely distinct characteristics. Would any thinking person understand water to be nothing but a combination of gasses? But yet, we consistently read headlines that science can now tell us what it means to love or what it means to have courage or honor or display altruism, and the like.

Also, check out reductionism and the dualism of the mind and brain.

About the Author Arthur Khachatryan

Arthur is an author, a former agnostic, and current ambassador of Jesus of Nazareth who loves to share the best of reasons for God's ultimate reality. His love and passion are helping skeptics and Christians grow in their faith and knowledge of God through accessible materials.