The limitations of science

The discipline of science cannot offer conclusions on the ultimate origins of matter.

Scientists can describe in fascinating detail what is observable within the universe. They can demonstrate  purposes related to adaptability and survival in the physical world.  But it is blatantly dishonest to suggest that science has proven that there is nothing beyond nature that has any relevance to what happens in nature.

This kind of suggestion is beyond the work of science.

A scientist cannot test the philosophy that the physical world is a self-contained system of impersonal natural laws without any outside involvement from a God or a Creator. Honest scientists know this — even if they fear the social and academic consequences of admitting it.

When teachers suggest, for example, that the science of evolution leads to a philosophy of naturalism, they give their students the misleading impression that the theory of evolution offers more than it’s capable of telling us. Students should be able to distinguish scientific research from philosophy.

Let’s teach our young people that a professor or author who suggests that science can prescribe truth on how the universe began has left the discipline of science and turned to philosophy or perhaps religion.

And let’s encourage Church leaders not to speak carelessly on matters of science. I’ve heard plenty of religious leaders suggest that evolution is an enemy of God that contradicts the account of creation. This is careless because it fails to distinguish the actual science of evolution from the philosophy or worldview of evolution.

Church leaders also must be careful not to make the Genesis account say more than it does. The Bible does not require belief in a certain age for the earth and the Church should not make such an issue a test of Christian orthodoxy. Church leaders are sometimes as disrespectful and condescending on these matters as atheists are about belief in God.

We need Church leaders and Science teachers to exemplify mutual respect as they help their students distinguish the fields of faith and science.

We cannot use the discipline of science to prove the philosophy of naturalism any more than we can use it to prove there is God. We must rely on other kinds of evidence for reaching the most plausible conclusion.

  • Are there better reasons for faith in naturalism or for faith in theism?
  • Is it more reasonable to believe in an intelligent designer or the absence of intention and design?

A growing number of scientist acknowledge the improbability that high levels of complexity found in most life forms could have resulted from chance occurrences.

The theory of intelligent design claims that empirically detectable signs of intelligence permeate the complexity of the physical universe in such a way that the most plausible and only rational conclusion is intelligent design.

Honest research should always be based on following the evidence wherever it leads. Unfortunately, in the academy, much of what passes for science is driven by an applied (and politically required) philosophy of materialism. This philosophy only allows the assumption that in the beginning were particles and impersonal natural laws. It rules out any question of intelligent design no matter what the evidence indicates.

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Creation, Intelligent Design, Science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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