Science vs Religion Part I: Science
by Matt Voss
Who ever said that science and religion can’t be friends? The Spirit of the Age would have us believe that these two ideologies fundamentally oppose each other. It’s thin crust or pan style, Star Wars or Star Trek; the zeitgeist says that we have to accept one thing as Truth and thereby judge all others false by default. Can’t we just like pizza? Can’t we just like sci-fi? Can’t we all just get along?
The deeper I dig, the more I find how thoroughly theology backs up and explains science, and how desperately some scientists seek to avoid the responsibility of explaining theology.
On the other hand, I also find that some undesirable, “Granola” Christians (fruits, flakes, and nuts) are content to turn a blind eye to progress for fear of “science” undermining their world view.
Come on, guys. A REAL scientist ought to know that using a lack of empirical evidence to deny theology its reality is not the same as scientifically disproving it.
As for you Jesus Freaks, remaining decades behind the rest of the world because you’re afraid a bunch of lab coat-sporting nerds are going to unravel the foundation of your entire existence isn’t showing an awful lot of faith in God. Let’s talk about that.
Let’s Talk About Science
The definition has been muddied a bit by the culture; the tight-knit sieve of critical thinking through which we once caught the lazy, sensationalist, pop-culture, and pseudo-scientists has sprung a leak.
The purpose of science is to explain the world through observation, but in the case of theology, which is only observable to those who first admit the possibility of the unknown, modern “science” uncharacteristically finds itself content to explain the unknown by a mathematically impossible series of unobservable events known as Darwinian Macro-evolution.
Macro-evolution vs Micro-evolution
When people begin to talk about evolution, I always have to clarify if they mean macro-evolution or micro-evolution. If they believe in micro-evolution, wherein species can hinder or exaggerate physical features like beak size or fur coloration through generations of selective breeding, which can be observed and has proven to be true, then I agree with them.
But that is where I draw the line. Macro-evolution is the idea that all the biodiversity on earth originated from one single DNA strand, which has not been observed and therefore cannot be proven. For example, it is known that a bear and a dog share a distant common ancestry; bears and dogs look somewhat alike, but nowhere in the fossil record is there any suggestion that a dog would be similarly related to a shark or a snail or a man.
The sect of the scientific community that embraces macro-evolution as law despite the lack of observable evidence seems to me to be less about doing real science, and more about simply keeping God out of the equation.
For example, consider the sciency-sounding statement that “God cannot be observed, measured, or otherwise proven to exist, therefore God cannot exist.” Looking beyond the unscientific bias that presupposes the conclusion that God doesn’t exist, we need to point out two flaws in this methodology.
For one thing, this pseudo-intellectual stance is a bit like setting out to prove the suggestion that President Trump, in his royal manliness, once successfully seduced a waffle iron. Of course, a sensible person wouldn’t engage such a fruitless argument, but a less-sensible person, bless his heart, would probably and rightly demand proof. If no proof can here be offered, and we are still using real science, we cannot then let the absence of proof lead us to conclude that our original hypothesis is true or false.
Or we could ask Kellyanne Conway, who would surely contend that no evidence has ever been found that he didn’t seduce said waffle iron, and that it probably then made him a wonderful breakfast in bed. Pivot to emails…
Secondly, saying that a thing does not exist based on the fact that we don’t understand it leaves us in deep water. To hang our beliefs on the presumed infallibility of human scientists would take some seriously creative forgetting.
The Scientific Blooper Reel of Science!
This author is a life-long lover of science, but this love isn’t so blind as to not see her faults. I invite you to consider some of the epic gaffs of the scientific community over the centuries- what the great Bill Nye might call “The Scientific Blooper Reel of Science!”
Some things we thought we knew: The earth was once the center of the universe with the sun and stars orbiting around us. Later, the world was flat. We used to practice bloodletting, where we’d use leeches to suck diseases out of people, or we’d just cut them and let them drain themselves to better health. For a while there, we were putting lead in our house paint, our gasoline, and our water pipes before we realized it was causing brain damage. We even put something as dangerous as mercury fillings right into peoples’ mouths at the dentist’s office!
Some things we don’t know, but we probably should by now: We can’t figure out how bees can fly with their fat little bodies and their tiny wings. Speaking of bees, we can’t figure out what’s killing them or why entire flocks of birds are falling from the sky. We know more about our solar system than we do our own oceans. We can’t even figure out how our noses work, and we’ve had them literally since forever.
Some things we’re only beginning to understand: Our food industry is a train wreck and a half. The things we’ve done to make food better have caused an epidemic of cancers, obesity, diabetes, and dementia- this is in part due to food science, but also politics, which, you guessed it, is also a science and also a mess. Climate change is looming; we are in desperate need of a change in the way we produce and use energy. Health care could better be described as “sick care,” having shifted its focus from preventing disease with wholesome food and exercise to merely treating it with pharmaceuticals and surgeries.
Now that we’ve been thoroughly reminded that science, in all its glory, is fallible, consider this: Pluto was once the ninth planet in our solar system, but then one day it was disqualified and lost its planetary status. Did Pluto change? Of course not (at least probably not a lot,) it was the science that changed.
Upon further observation of our universe, our understanding of astronomy evolved to have a clearer definition of what a planet is. We humans are constantly learning to paint with a finer brush, and we’re getting pretty good.
So can we trust science or not?
I think we need to accept that science is always evolving and accept that, despite all our efforts, we haven’t figured it all out yet. Even what we “know” now might seem horrific and archaic a century or even a decade from now. Indeed, I hope that we would grow that much the wiser.
As I said before, this author is a lover of science, which is why I could never ask it to do a job that it wasn’t meant to do. Science lovingly and relentlessly seeks to understand all the things inside the box; it cannot be asked to explain that which must remain outside the box.