A Lakatos philosophy of science fosters nuanced precision within critical realism, recognizing that falsification of any theory (for example, evolution) does not occur without providing a better theory.

Imre Lakatos articulated a moderate foundational rational model of derivation in the philosophy of mathematics and science that utilized Peircian pragmatism to encourage its productivity and to make sense of paradigm change. Lakatos proposes a sophisticated falsification view that encourages helpful development, because, “There is no falsification before the emergence of a better theory.” Thus a creationist model needs to focus on crafting better theories or creationist models will never be seriously considered by the academy as a live option. Lakatos’ approach encourages a progressive orientation current with the latest warranted findings rather than clinging to a tradition. Justification for the theologian comes from exegesis and grounded philosophizing that contribute to a more nuanced understanding of an issue. The justification for the scientist comes from tested peer reviewed proposals that contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the issue.

Critical realism is better understood as Lakatos proposed than in Kuhn’s paradigm shift. In creationism, the Kuhnian radical shift in paradigms would: (a) encourage the creationist to give up because he lost the battle as the scientific world shifted from creationism to evolutionism or (b) seek naive falsification of the evolutionary theory. Whereas, a Lakatos theorist would recognize that a more nuanced model between the extremes might better reflect the data in creationism. So a better model than a Kuhnian paradigm shift would be a Lakatos’ approach illustrated by the contemporary rivalry among relativistic and quantum theories. A critical realist approach values recognizing the precise differences of these varied approaches, and crafting a nuanced method that reflects this sensitivity.

Examination will include the following methodological approaches to theology and science: Alister McGrath’s Bhaskerian approach, Nancey Murphy’s post-modern Lakatos’ approach, and my moderate foundational Lakatos’ approach.


Life Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Religion


Scientific method, Theological method, Imre Lakatos, Critical realism


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