Having read my share of Catholic apologetics and listened to countless hours of Catholic radio I have certainly encountered the irony of the idea of Sola Scriptura. That you can’t use scripture alone to discern this doctrine and also that this is a Protestant tradition passed down.
Listening to the Catholic Answers shows where they field questions from atheists it led me to realize just how much Sola Scriptura was like scientism. Over and over I heard atheists object to the existence of God since it was not scientifically provable. That the only tool for discerning truth was science. Scientism sees the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and that empirical science constitutes the only valid method for discerning reality. That this belief is a philosophy and thus not scientifically provable via the scientific method seems to be totally lost on the most atheists. Even when this is pointed out to them the appeal is once again to science. Admitting that philosophy can be another tool in discerning truth is a bridge-too-far for many atheists.
I can certainly understand this since when I was an atheist I was totally skeptical of philosophy as a tool for discerning truth. The relativism inherent in the little philosophy I was exposed to made me reject this area. That I had a philosophy that rejected relativism was lost on me. I wanted to know truth while at the same time never demanded that empirical science be able to prove the concept of truth in the first place.
So I find it interesting the crossover between scripture alone and science alone. Oddly there is almost the same fundamentalist understanding of scripture between the two groups. Both exclude other possible interpretations not interpreted through their single lens. Those that have thought about scripture being the highest authority and that that they can’t know the canon of scripture through this authority, just live with this ambiguity. Same with the science alone believers. They can’t prove via scientific experimentation that science is the only authority, even less so when it comes to concepts like truth. René Descartes wanted to build a system of provable concepts and bootstrap this from the first provable concept that didn’t rely on anything else and so on. Others have been attempting to do the same since and to the same end.
As a Catholic I am really just learning what it means to be able be not limited to a single interpretive lens. As an atheist I loved science and was spellbound by the wonder of the natural world and what we could discern. Now I still have that in spades magnified by even more wonder. Strangely while this wider view increases the number of things I don’t understand, I now have more tools to use to discern truth. Each intellectual tool has its own areas of competencies. The narrow view of what science is now limited to is a fall from when theology was known as the queen of the sciences.