Friday, October 10, 2008

Science and Faith

Science and Faith

Unfortunately, a good majority of people in our culture see no relationship between faith and knowledge. One of the contributing factors to this problem is the impact of scientism on our culture. While the Christian worldview is not opposed to science, it does recognize the limitations of science in relation to the discovery of human knowledge. After all, academic disciplines such as logic, ethics, history, and art cannot be shown to be true utilizing the scientific method.

Furthermore, many people forget that science cannot be done without philosophy. Philosophical assumptions are utilized in the search for causes. Therefore, they cannot be the result of them. For example, scientists assume that reason and the scientific method is the only reliable way to discover knowledge in the world around us. Unfortunately, there is a tendancy to forget that we can’t prove the tools of science-the laws of logic, the law of causality, the principle of uniformity, or the reliability of observation by running an experiment. These are the tools that have to be in place in order to do science!

Furthermore, apart from a Judeo-Christian worldview, there would be no science. Have you ever noticed why science did not originate in China, Russia, or Eastern cultures such as India, etc.? The reason is because these countries never embraced theism as a worldview. In order to embrace theism as a worldview, one must embrace the God of the Bible as the First Cause and Designer of the universe, life, and the laws of nature. Anyway, here are some of the first scientists who were theists:
Johann Kepler (1571–1630), celestial mechanics, physical astronomy
Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), hydrostatics
Robert Boyle (1627–1691), chemistry, gas dynamics
Nicholas Steno (1638–1687), stratigraphy
Isaac Newton (1642–1727), calculus, dynamics
Michael Faraday (1791–1867), field theory
Charles Babbage (1792–1871), computer science
Louis Agassiz (1807–1873), glacial geology, ichthyology
James Simpson (1811–1870), gynecology
Gregor Mendel (1822–1884), genetics
Louis Pasteur (1822–1895), bacteriology
William Kelvin (1824–1907), energetics, thermodynamics
Joseph Lister (1827–1912), antiseptic surgery
James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), electrodynamics, statistical thermodynamics
William Ramsay (1852–1916), isotopic chemistry (1)

In Ian Barbour's book Religion in an Age of Science, Barbour describes scientism's exalted view of the scientific method.

As Barbour says:
"Science starts from reproducible public data. Theories are formulated and their implications are tested against experimental observations. Additional criteria of coherence, comprehensiveness, and fruitfulness influence choice among theories. Religious beliefs are not acceptable, in this view, because religion lacks public data, such as experiential testing, and such criteria of evaluation. Science alone is objective, open-minded, universal, cumulative, and progressive. Religious traditions, by contrast, are said to be subjective, closed-minded, parochial, uncritical, and resistant to change."

In his book The Limits of Science, Nicholas Rescher offers a helpful comment about this issue. Rescher says,
"The theorist who maintains that science is the be-all and end-all –that what is not in science textbooks is not worth knowing-is an ideologist with a peculiar and distorted doctrine of his own. For him, science is no longer a sector of the cognitive enterprise but an all-inclusive world-view. This is the doctrine not of science but of scientism. To take this stance is not to celebrate science but to distort it. "

To read a great article on some of the limitations and issues of the scientific method click here: David J. Hill: Letting Some Air out of the Scientific Method

1. Geisler N. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999, 167-169.

No comments: