Explanation and Belief

Explanation and Belief
Bruce Craven, April 2008.




Reader in Mathematics at Melbourne University until retirement. Still active in mathematical research and writing.


We look for explanations. How far should we believe them? Christians seek truth, and regard God as its source. But explanations must use analogies with known or simpler things, and these depend greatly on the culture. Various scientific explanations are surveyed; no one pattern fits all. A statement may be true and important, yet scarcely comprehensible in an other culture. Some scientific theories give good predictors, but seem to explain little. Other areas may be beyond prediction. Moreover, the world is not comprehensible without considering mind and ethics. Are ethics and intelligence as basic in the universe as the ‘fine tuning’ of physical constants, without which chemical elements and life would not exist?

Key words

Explanation, belief, analogy, truth, prediction, limits of knowledge.

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