Friday, March 31, 2023

Science Conceptions and Misconceptions


Who can exist without the benefits of science in this “Age of Science?” The current Age of Science in which we live has generated other Ages: technology, digital, computer, information, electronic, electromagnetic, and mechanical to name a few. Our society is immersed in positive and negative commentary about science and science-generated outcomes. 

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Christian worldview influenced the development of what has become known as the “Scientific Revolution.” In our current day the discipline of science has enhanced our lives in many ways. In most respects our lives have benefitted from the scientific endeavor. Our Science/Faith blog is predicated on the knowledge of science and how science supports belief in the Creator and in the beauty and coherence of the physical laws the Creator authored. Science, however, can be a threat to humanity—for example, when technology produces weapons of war or artificial intelligence (AI) with its frightening potential.

Industrial advertisers describe science as beneficial to our human condition. At the turn of the millennium the DuPont Company used “The Miracles of Science” in their advertising. Recently television advertisements for animal food products have stated “Science did that.” The power of science can be appropriately or inappropriately used as it was by our recently retired Chief Medical Adviser to the US president, Anthony Fauci. He boasted “I represent science.”  The use of science as a descriptor or modifier possesses both strengths and shortcomings. The terms “It’s scientific” or “Established science” could signal a variety of meanings. We are exhorted to “Follow the science.” Are there any hidden agendas in play? 

The previous three paragraphs discussed a number of issues related to the endeavor of science and the role of scientists. Even though the root word of science in several languages is knowledge, our understanding of science is more complex. The discipline of science is difficult to define for many people.

We studied the website of Science Learning Hub. Based in New Zealand, the website discussed many myths of the “nature of science.” Following is an abbreviated account of the “myths” section of the article. Along with many positive features, the site addresses cautions about the nature of science for readers’ consideration:

The Scientific Method: There is no one particular scientific method.

ExperimentsThese are not the main route to scientific knowledge. They are not a commentary on ethical, moral, aesthetic, social, and metaphysical questions.

Science methods: These methods can answer amazing things, but science methodology is not a cure-all.

Proof: Science does not always provide absolute proof. 

Unchanging science: Science is not always absolute and unchanging.

Creativity: Science is often creative, not dull or boring.

Objectivity: Scientists are often influenced by their own subjective biases or preconceptions.

New ideas: Science innovators may encounter resistance from people accustomed to thinking only in a certain way.

Science modeling: Models are used to predict reality, but they are not indicators of reality.

Hypotheses: These are tentative explanations. Prior experience, background knowledge, and careful observation skills are necessary for good hypotheses formation.

Readers should not assume your author is negative concerning the beauty and benefits of science. We are intensely positive about science, especially as it amplifies our vision of reality and love for our Creator who established all physical and spiritual realities of our human existence. He is the Creator of All Things. We give thanks to Him.




Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Science/Faith Link

Several years ago I proposed to a friend that science and personal faith are mutually supportive. I discussed the purpose of our science/faith blog and our goal of demonstrating that science discoveries strengthen personal Christian faith. My friend stated that the relationship of science and faith was an unusual link. He echoed the sentiments of many others who agree with this statement. It is almost a secular/cultural  mantra that there is a disconnect between science and faith, especially Christian faith. We reviewed one of our posts from 2008 entitled “The NOMA Principle.” We cite information from that post in the following paragraphs:

Stephen Jay Gould was a self-proclaimed agnostic paleontologist and historian of science who helped construct several support pillars of evolutionary science until his death in 2002. He is also famous for articulating the NOMA Principle. NOMA is an acronym for “Non-overlapping magisteria” (domains of knowledge.) This famous expression means science and religion are distinct and separate domains. Science should not influence religious beliefs and religious beliefs should not influence science.

Gould admits the magisteria of science and religion do not stand far apart. They “…bump right up against one another, interdigitating in wondrously complex ways along their joint border.” But according to Gould, the two domains should respect one another. “We get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.” 

Someone may suggest that the cell’s complexity and functionality points to a Divine Creator as an explanatory option. According to secularists in the field of science, this explanation must not be assigned credibility in the science classroom because the action of a divine Creator is a religious concept. On the other hand, naturalistic explanations of origins which deny the possibility of God’s actions are not acceptable to Christians.   

As we examine this topic its complexity becomes increasingly apparent. The subject of worldview overwhelms our understanding of the relationship of science and faith. One definition of worldview is “how we see and interpret the world.” Christian theists see science as affirming the actions of God in sustaining the coherence of matter. We quote the startling passage in Colossians 1:16-17: “For by him (Christ) all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (NIV). These verses, even in the pre-science days of New Testament authors, are a powerful commentary on reality.

Advocates of faith cite divine miracles. They cite many features of our coherent universe as examples of sustaining miracles. Secular scientists commonly see all miracles as an example of “God of the Gaps.” In other words, when we do not understand certain features of physical reality, some observers are quick to assume “God did it.” In common parlance many secular scientists believe “God of the Gaps” is a “cop-out.” People of Christian faith, however, cite sustaining miracles as the evidence of the Divine Creator, author of thousands of consistent physical laws by which we govern our lives each day.

We propose that advocates of faith in God, rather than quarantining themselves from secular scientists, should present theistic believers as wholeheartedly supportive of the science/faith interface. Kenneth Samples, a scholar with the Reasons to Believe organization, has written in his 2004 volume Without a Doubt, “Historically speaking, science and Christianity have more often been allies than enemies. The time has come to demonstrate how the Christian worldview is uniquely compatible with science, while the naturalistic worldview suffers from serious science-related inadequacies. To discover the mutual support between science and the Christian faith one may begin by reviewing the history of the scientific enterprise. A latecomer on the scene of human history, modern science emerged around the middle of the seventeenth century.” 

Science and faith are now inextricably linked. They are mutually supportive. Our prayer is that both scientists and people of faith could endorse this truth.