Küng – Der Anfang aller Dinge. Section A, pt 2.
… continuation of A. A Unified theory for Everything? (Pt. 1)
A. A Unified theory for Everything? (Pt. 2)
An important facet of Küng's argument against the sort of scientific 'over-confidence' that jumps in bed with logical-positivism and consequently marginalizes anything theological, draws on the work of Karl Popper. In particular, he addresses the claim that everything metaphysical must be delimited as 'meaningless' by justifiably asking: "Ist es legitim, bestimmte Fragen von vornherein als »sinnlos« auszuschließen, wenn man empirisch-mathematisch gar nicht definieren kann, was »Sinn« überhaupt ist?" ("Is it legitimate to bracket certain questions, right from the beginning, as 'meaningless', when it is not possible to define what 'meaning' is at all from a mathematical-empirical standpoint?") (42). Science, indeed, can never prove its statements in an absolute sense. They, according to Popper, can only be falsified! Science has its limits.
None of this is to be understood as an attack on the whole scientific approach, however. Rather, Küng's objective in this first chapter is to blunt the unrealistic self-assurance and philosophical naivety of its logical-positivist infected branches. Küng wants to emphasise that Reality cannot be defined 'von vornherein' ('from the start') by some kind of absolutised Rationalität. Reality is multifaceted and complex beast that is best approached through a variety of means employing a variety of methods, though each be very different. Not only that, but it is clear that no one operates from a detached Spock-like rationality, but has desires, feelings, intuition, fantasy, emotion and passion. Again, this is not meant as an argument against rationality, only the absolutisation of it.
Science and theology, he suggest, are both legitimate perspectives with which to analyse the complex of reality. However, just as he pressed in relation to the natural science and mathematics, theology also cannot claim to own the Truth 'von vornherein' absolutely. Theologians too must always be prepared to revise old models and think new thoughts. In particular, they shouldn't withdraw to the alleged infallibility of the Pope, Bible or any creedal-pronouncements of the Church. Rather, science and theology can work together over the question of Reality, something that the schools of Barth (and his aversion to 'natural theology' [three cheers for Brunner!]) and Bultmann (and his neglect of cosmology through his preoccupation with human Existenz) have generated a need for. And theologians must be careful to note that this working together should most certainly not flip into a defensive apologetic stance. On the other hand, instead of a pure integration of science and theology, Küng suggests a complementary relationship. Following Kant he affirms that science has its focus on space-time phenomena, but cannot overstep this world of phenomena. The world "in-itself", the questions concerning the ground and meaning of Reality as a whole, are beyond just science and mathematics.
In the next section, Küng will attempt to employ this 'complementary model' as he bores deeper into the question of the mathematical structure of the physical world.