Faith in science?

Young people attending universities should be aware of the faith-based tendency to accept science as a discipline capable of explaining almost everything.

I say “faith-based” because these young people will be tempted to believe that their professors are right when they stretch science into philosophy and suggest that it offers an evidenced-based path to a strictly material understanding of the universe.

Naive young people are vulnerable to the impression that science has conclusively proven that nothing beyond nature could have any conceivable relevance to what happens in nature.

This viewpoint wrongly suggests that the physical, material universe is all there is, was, or ever will be and that the only real world is the world of the five senses. The misleading part is that students are being taught that this view has the full backing of science.

The line goes on to suggest (often with condescending arrogance) that if you choose to believe in God or the soul or immaterial beings; if you desire to believe in transcendent values; intrinsic meaning, mystery, and a teleological spiritual vision; if you profess belief in the supernatural, the spiritual, the eternal and the unseen, you’re certainly free to believe in these things, but you’re on your own. 

You won’t have science to back you up because science has freed us of these notions much like adults no longer believe in Santa Clause.

Evidence please

The really big problem with this way of seeing things is that there is not a shred of verifiable scientific evidence to support it. Why? Because it’s simply outside the function of science to resolve such matters.

Only faith could allow you to believe the theory that nothing beyond nature could have any conceivable relevance to what happens in nature. I don’t say this to imply that faith is always without evidence. Faith works off a different kind of evidence than offered in the discipline of science.

We must be aware of the difference between science and philosophy or faith so that we don’t give people the misleading impression that the science of evolution offers more than it is capable.

We have to help people understand that as beneficial as scientific research has been, there are many things that are just outside of the reach of science.

The science of evolution (for example) simply cannot explain the ultimate origins of the universe. It can postulate on the matter based on assumptions or patterns just as the science of intelligent design can postulates based on patterns of intelligence and design.

Beyond science

Universal human longings for love and meaning are two more examples of realities beyond the reach of purely scientific conclusion. These realities are also where we observe significant discontinuity between humans and animals. The science of biological evolution cannot explain this discontinuity without shifting from science to philosophy.

Furthermore, our awareness of how things “ought to be” and longing for “something better” also testify to our nature as unique beings of dignity and design. But we also have a dark side to our story that sometimes degrades us below the behavior of beasts in our history of cruelty and evil.

Some suggest that evil is a metaphysical necessity for finite creatures. Yet why do we so strongly oppose it and long for a world without it? Why do we cry “foul” or “unfair”? Why do we have longings for restoration of Paradise Lost? Why do we even think in terms of good and evil?

Suggesting that all of this flows logically from biological evolution as scientifically verifiable is either intentional manipulation or a weak faith-based recommendation that confuses science and philosophy.

Confusing faith and science is a failure to respect what each one contributes. On the science end of the discussion, perhaps a better question is whether the idea that the material universe is all there is, was, or ever will be is more rational than believing an intelligent being created the world.

Truth about how it all began cannot be resolved in scientific labs, but faith offers a different kind of evidence. A helpful line from Scripture states that, “every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything” (Hebrews 3:4). Whether one visits a construction site or a nature site, the logic of this truth consistently demands the same conclusion — an intelligent builder.

Steve Cornell

See also: Theophobia: Fear of religion in the Academy

 

This entry was posted in Academy, Anthropology, Atheism, Atheists, Belief, Christian worldview, Creation, Culture, Evil in the world, Evolution, Faith, Fear of religion, Freedom, God, Human depravity, Human dignity, Humanism, Intelligent Design, Life, Philosophy, Sam Harris, Science, Truth, Wisdom, Worldview and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Faith in science?

  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    The ideas in this article have also been condensed in a nice illustration entitled Atheist Garage:

    http://adam4d.com/atheist-garage/

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