Move Over Santa and “Settled Science”, the Lord Has Come…
December 12, 2015 Leave a comment
“People sometimes say that science deals with facts but religion simply trades in opinion. In other words, science’s concern is with truth, understood as correspondence with reality, but the best that can be said of religion is that it might be ‘true’ for an individual, but only in the weak sense that it was helpful for that particular person to look at life in that particular way, without necessarily implying anything about the way reality actually is. Two bad mistakes lie behind this claim…” John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth
Mistake #1: When it comes down to it any scientific fact is interpreted fact, a well-motivated opinion about one-dimensional information. Scientific phenomena are comprehended within other interpreted facts and within a personal cosmology. Any discovered fact is unique to an individual until in the process of truth-seeking it is corroborated by others seeking truth. A well-motivated belief then begins to grow that what you have found is consonant with an elegant and repeatable universality. Yet,
“Belief in scientific realism is well-motivated, but one cannot claim that it is logically proved to be true beyond any possibility of question, as if it would be willfully stupid for anyone to deny….the progress of science, with the changes of understanding that can result from this, make it clear that scientific achievement cannot be claimed to constitute the attainment of complete and absolute truth. Instead, science’s exploration of reality must be seen as resulting in the creation of ‘maps’ of the physical world which are indeed reliable, but only on a particular scale.” John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth (emphasis added)
Science ‘maps’ reality in terms of how, how much, how often, and of what terrain – matter and space-time. But a scientist’s impersonal encounter with ‘hard data’ generated from experimentation is self-limiting…
“Science’s declining to engage with the personal dimension of experience implies the limited character that it can give of reality. A scientist, speaking as a scientist, can say no more about music than it is vibrations in the air, but speaking as a person there would be much more to say about the mysterious way in which a temporal succession of sounds can give us access to a timeless realm of beauty.” -John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth
Beyond the wonderfully apparent discoveries of science, science certainly has ongoing areas of mystery. Consider that today we have a better understanding of quanta (small packets of energy) and yet scientists cannot readily explain the oxymoronic wave and particle theory of light. To unlock such mysteries inquisitive scientists as truth seekers will test their postulates using experimentation. Their theory will employ a certain amount of belief in and expectation of a supposed outcome. The final experimental data is then evaluated against theory. Science’s truth seeking process goes on in this fashion, seeking truth about a physical reality….except when ideology becomes its handler…
“Settled science” happens. Though science seeks to understand and map the physical world, science can easily be channeled into populist scientism ‘maps’ where fact is rerouted with ideology meant to produce a certain political outcome. The misconstrued and falsified data behind Global Warming Alarmism is pure scientism. In fact something of religious cult has now formed around a metaphysical belief in Global Warming. And, ‘outsiders’ who do accept such a far-fetched and unverifiable belief are called “deniers”.
The Global Warming cult leaders (Al Gore, Barack Obama, John Kerry, UNFCCC) preach their scientism as “settled science” in order to discharge any further truth-seeking. The light of day was not meant to shine on their furtive agenda – their ends, world-wide redistribution of wealth, justify their means of environmental alarmism and population control (a la John Holdren).
Science can be used to deny other means of truth-seeking. The New Atheists came onto the scene after the horrific 9/11 attacks. The New Atheists love to use scientific reasoning, not for truth-seeking, but for their dismissal of belief in God, a God who would allow 9/11. As such the science they comport is piecemeal and typically not readily provable, such as the (preexisting!) Quantum Foam messaged by Quantum Fluctuation equals Universe theory (Alexander Vilenkin). Then there is their use of the multiple universes theory that says that our universe is one of infinite possibilities wrought out of chaos and therefore (even so!) a Creator is not warranted.
The New Atheists, in scientific tone, try but cannot reasonably tell us how humans received a self-consciousness (Who am I? Why am I here? What about life after death?). Nor can they tell how we became intelligent, language based, moral agents and altruistic. Science cannot tell us how. Strict logical analysis fails to tell us how.
But strict logical analysis can tell us about the extreme fine-tuning found in the universe, a fine-tuning that makes earth inhabitable for life. Yet, The New Atheists, again in scientific tone and avoiding a Creator outside of themselves, will serve up the Anthropic Principle as the reason for fine-tuning – – the universe just happened to be because of us, we needed the universe to fit our needs.
“The odds against a universe such as we have are fantastically great, and so are the odds against the emergence of life and the advent of intelligence.” –Dr. Amir D. Aczel, mathematician and author of Why Science Does Not Disprove God
Something to ponder: “If Albert Einstein had not discovered general relativity, no doubt it would eventually have come to light through the labor of others, but if J.S. Bach had not composed the Mass in B Minor, that great work of art would have been lost to us forever.” John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth
Now consider a perfect circle and perfect square, Plato’s ideal forms. Consider that mathematicians accept that numbers, equations and geometry exist on their own and outside our physical universe. One would have to then ask, How do we know what is perfect? And, how do we know that an equation is simple and beautiful?
Science + religion = truth-seeking
“I am the Light of the World.” -Jesus
“Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?” Lily Tomlin
Mistake #2: Religion isn’t concerned about fact and therefore requires no reason.
True Christianity is truth-seeking. I perceive Christianity as using a microscope (natural theology), eyeglasses (systematic theology) and a telescope (philosophical theology) to seek out and record what is true. Central to true Christianity’s claim on a person is, not unlike science, a focus on truth, a truth ultimate and unchanging, an ‘atomic’ truth that you can set your soul’s machinations to. Truth, scientific truth and Christianity, is freedom.
It was Jesus who said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Now I don’t think Jesus was talking about the Big Bang at the start of this manifest Creation, but He certainly let fly freely both matter and a ‘hair less’ antimatter and then the requisite bosons to form elements and to later compose you and me.
Christianity seeks to know the truth about why and who and from that derived knowledge goes on to the phenomenology of altruistic behavior, something evolutionary science cannot explain or ever reproduce.
Christianity is a personal “come and see”. Science is also a personal “come and see”. And whereas a scientist’s impersonal observations becomes a universally accepted theory through experimentation and corroboration, so too a Christian’s personal observations are corroborated by Scripture and by a chorus of others singing the same tune.
Christianity is centered on the facts of a person. This person, Jesus Christ, claimed to be God, very God, the Creator. Now, imagine very God limiting himself and taking on the form of a servant in evolved flesh – once a single cell amoeba later into ape-hood and then prehistoric man and then to mankind! I cannot fathom this emptying of God but it is true.
Consider the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact witnessed by hundreds of people.
We find a record of Jesus’ life and his death and resurrection in the four Gospels. The Gospels are written by close friends and followers who would die for Jesus based on their own eye-witness testimony. Would a scientist die for any discovered truth?
Keep in mind that Pontius Pilate found no fault with Jesus and yet found no reason to keep him alive, either. He asked “What is truth?” but Truth would be put to death in order to save his reputation
Like science religion can be perverted by powerful figures or groups into false religions and death cults with a phenomenology of terrorism. Acknowledging that no one group has all truth would be a major step toward abandoning the ‘settled theology’ of Islamic terrorism and the ‘settled science’ of global warming.
How should science and Christianity relate?
“Fundamentally, the two disciplines of enquiry should be thought of as cousins under the skin because of their shared truthful intent. Both operate under the rubric of critical realism, claiming the attainment of well-motivated beliefs, but not asserting the achievement of absolute certainty. The religious recognition of this fact is expressed in the understanding that believers walk by faith and not by sight…Religious faith dos not demand irrational submission to some unquestionable authority, but it does involve rational commitment to well-motivated belief.” – John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth
There is simply too much information about both science and religion to fit this post and to do justice to both truth-seeking disciplines. Besides you need to get ready for Christmas.
The wisest of men still seek Him…Study hard.
Now for something completely relevant: you could buy a book about soccer and read about the game as it is delineated (the scientific approach) or you could watch Men in Blazers for a ‘metaphysical’ explanation of the game (the religious soccer zealot approach). Actually, both approaches play the whole field and score goals.