Original Research

The frontiers of empirical science: A Thomist-inspired critique of scientism

Callum Scott
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 3 | a3180 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i3.3180 | © 2016 Callum Scott | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 September 2015 | Published: 08 July 2016

About the author(s)

Callum Scott, University of South Africa, South Africa


Scientistic conceptualisations hold to the positivistic positions that science is limitless in its potential representations of material phenomena and that it is the only sure path to knowledge. In recent popular scientific literature, these presuppositions have been reaffirmed to the detriment of both philosophy and theology. This article argues for the contrary position by a meta-analysis of empirical science from a Thomist perspective. Identifying empirical science as limited in its method and bound to the material sphere of being alone, we posit that rather than standing as the sole path to the knowledge of being, empirical science is constrained at its frontiers. It is subsequently contended that far from empirical science having the explanatory ability to respond to all presenting scientific problems in principle, fundamentals without the grasp of the methodology of empirical science exist. To relate the article’s meta-analysis to scientific praxis, physical cosmology – as the most foundational empirical science – is exemplified in the discussion.

Keywords: Philosophy; Religion; Science; Scientism; Thomism; Metaphysics; Epistemology


Philosophy; Religion; Science; Scientism; Thomism; Metaphysics; Epistemology


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1. Aquinas and Solovyov: Unified Christian ontological-epistemology in critique of epistemic reductivism
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