The Limits Of Science

Embryonic_Stars_in_the_Rosette_NebulaAtheists don’t like to admit this, but science is limited. True science, that is. There’s a particular process known as the scientific method that leads to truth pronouncements, but only a limited body of truth.

Art, for instance is foreign to science. What can science tell a painter or musician or writer? Is there a way to measure who will or won’t have a particular artistic ability? Does science tell these creative people what notes go with which or what colors they need on their pallet?

Perhaps we need first to understand what specifically are the claims of science. Here’s the definition from the Oxford American Dictionary: “a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject.” This “systematically organized body of knowledge” comes about by use of the scientific method which also has a strict definition:

To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning (Wikipedia).

So if someone is exploring, say, the existence of a certain historical figure, such as Jesus of Nazareth, science can’t help because there’s no empirical or measurable evidence. Clearly, science can’t be a guarantor of historical truth.

Philosophical truth is another area in which science is pretty useless. Ask a why question and science has little choice but to shut up. Why are we here? Why is there suffering? Why do some people believe in God and others reject Him? What can science contribute to such explorations?

Of course science is also useless when it comes to ethics. We have no empirical way of measuring right or wrong, though we all agree that right and wrong exist. Science can’t tell you why we think this way and it can’t help us figure out what belongs in each category.

Or how about relational truth? Some people are drawn to each other. They have “chemistry,” but no one can tell you exactly what that means or how people achieve it. This relational chemistry exists between a man and wife, between friends, between team members. But when it comes to the latter, it’s not always there. Sometimes everything “clicks” and sometimes it doesn’t. What makes the difference? A certain leader, a peacemaker, someone whose unselfishness is an example to the others? No one can quantify what it is—it’s beyond the purview of science.

Then there’s the spiritual realm. Most atheists I’ve communicated with deny a spiritual realm because science can’t measure it—a shortsighted . . . or maybe, blind . . . pronouncement. Millions of people down through time have reported spiritual experiences. Atheists, however, consider these as delusions, fabrications, or brain function—none of which they can prove.

Rather, their trump card is that no one can produce scientific evidence to support the spiritual—as if science with its dependence upon empirical data can measure the supernatural.

What’s most intriguing to me is that atheists who cling so firmly to science most often embrace evolution as the explanation for humankind’s existence, and in fact of all life. Yet the very thing they use to counter the idea that the universe and all life has been created, is the very thing they can not verify scientifically.

Oh, sure you’ll hear a lot of science thrown around—light traveling through space for untold light years, rocks determined to be millions or billions of years old, fossils of a pre-man, and so on. But none of that is science.

Science is based on observation and questioning (how did man come to be?), followed by conjecture (he might have evolved from a lower life form), also known as a hypothesis. Then comes the real work: experimentation. The subject in question must undergo testing which yields empirical data, and the tests must be repeated to verify that the results weren’t simply coincidental. Clearly, no one can replicate evolution or its companion theory, the Big Bang. There are no experiments we can run to show how nothing exploded into life, how that life organized itself from a single cell to multiple cells, each more complex than the one before it.

In short, science is too limited to prove the theory of evolution, to disprove the existence of the supernatural, to explain morality, to determine answers to the great questions of purpose.

So why, I wonder, have we deified science as if it is the end all of every discipline? It is not.

Published in: on February 11, 2015 at 6:31 pm  Comments (6)  
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Ethics, Scandal, And Doing What’s Right In Your Own Eyes

The US federal government has been hit with a double whammy. First the GSA scandal, then the one involving the Secret Service.

I actually had to look up the General Services Administration because I’d never heard of them. How in the world could they be wasting a million dollars (the amount I heard projected for the lavish conferences they were due to hold this year) of taxpayer money and I’d never heard of them?

In researching the organization ever so briefly, I discovered this:

GSA employs about 12,000 federal workers and has an annual operating budget of roughly $26.3 billion. GSA oversees $66 billion of procurement annually.

So apparently wasting a paltry million dollars is no big thing to them.

How ironic that there’s an effort to raise taxes, nationally and in the state of California, which some of us oppose on the grounds that the money going to government isn’t being spent well.

And speaking of money not being spent well, do you think tax dollars went into procuring the prostitutes for those Secret Service and military attachés?

Lust or greed, which is the worst scandal?

The thing is, none of this should surprise us. We taught a generation of our children that they are valuable, important, and deserve all the best there is. What’s more, we reduced morality to not getting caught.

So those children grew up and conceived of ways to get what they wanted by using government and business to their own advantage, legally or illegally. Mitt Romney went into corporate raiding — legal, to be sure, but ethical? Good for the people who worked at the companies being gutted?

And we had a President who felt no compulsion about lying to the grand jury to cover up his sexual liaisons, and another candidate for the Presidency who saw no problem with using campaign funds to provide for his mistress so that he could keep her hidden.

Greed and lust.

Our athletes and movie stars are role models for lust. Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Wilt Chamberlain — these are the Lakers stars who have won championships for the city of LA, but they were also involved in sexual scandal at some point in their past. Movie and TV stars are apt to change sex partners or spouses as often as they change roles.

Greed we see in every commercial that tells consumers they just have to have the next new gadget that is faster, shinier, cooler, hotter, flashier. When do we have enough? Never. Not as long as our economy depends on us spending. So greed needs to be ramped to a fever pitch as often as possible: Get those consumers confident so they’ll go in debt some more.

All of it is so reminiscent of the days before Israel had a king. In reality, God was to be their King, but instead, every man did what was right in his own eyes (see Judges 17:6 and 21:25).

Scripture catalogs gang rape, rampant homosexuality, murder, civil war, sex trafficking, hypocrisy. These were supposed to be the people of God, but they were choosing to live like the peoples around them who worshiped idols.

God would give them over to conquerors, but in His graciousness, when they cried out to Him in repentance, would then send a judge to rescue them.

If only we in the US would recognize the road we’re on — it leads to destruction. There’s only one way off, and it has nothing to do with electing the right people in November. It has everything to do with getting on our faces and repenting for doing what is right in our own eyes rather than listening to and obeying God and His Word.

Published in: on April 17, 2012 at 6:39 pm  Comments (4)  
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Throwing The Baby Out Instead Of The Foreskin

As the US hurtles toward social, political, and economic changes, I wonder at the break down of simple logic in our society. There seems to be, for example, a great disconnect between the values a segment of our country claims are desirable and the illegal activities to which those lead.

Take, for example, attitudes toward sex. Our youth today are taught in public school that sex is natural and that they are free to experiment and discover who they are and what their sexual preference is. But woe to the teenage boy who discovers that his sexual preference is six year old little girls. Woe to the adult male who acts on his preference for teenage boys.

Here’s another disconnect. Back in the latter half of the twentieth century, schools stopped teaching morals and ethics, as pundits began the process of eradicating religion, and Christianity in particular, from anything associated with government, in the mistaken idea that the presence of religion equated with the establishment of religion.

The new ethic became, It’s not wrong unless you get caught. Now in the early part of the twenty-first century we are rocked by scandal after scandal in local and national government, in financial institutions, in business, in labor, in houses of worship.

A different kind of disconnect recently came to the forefront — this one a subset of the larger body of activities designed to protect children, such as outlawing lead paint, requiring infants to be in car seats secured to a back seat, and any number of other safety regulations.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m all for protecting children, though I think we’d do better if we instructed parents how to raise kids rather than pass laws bad parents aren’t going to obey anyway.

But back to this latest version of Disconnect. It seems enough people in San Francisco signed a petition to get a proposal on the ballot to outlaw circumcision for anyone under eighteen. Presumably after eighteen, a man can decide for himself if he wants to be circumcised, but until then, the government will step in and protect these innocent baby boys from their evil parents who might inflict unspeakable harm on their little bodies. 🙄

How ironic, then, that those same evil parents are considered innocent if they choose to kill their baby boys before they take a single breath. Unborn babies, the entire little person, can be thrown away, but these anti-circumcision people want to spare foreskins.

This one is right up there with pregnant drug addicts being accused of abusing their unborn child if they continue to take drugs while they’re completely free to abort the baby if they choose.

These disconnects seem to get more bizarre every year and therefore more glaring. I wonder if sometime the majority of people will start realizing these issues are related. If babies need to be protected, then we should start by protecting them in the womb. Why is that one a hard concept to grasp?

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm  Comments (9)  
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