In Defense of Science?

by John Henson
An article at the online home of National Public Radio (paid for by you and me) says that “anti-scientifism,” the idea that science is opposed to religion, is ruining the United States./1
The central statement of the article is this: “While many countries are working hard to educate their young about the values of science and of scientific research, in the U.S. countless people are teaching them to mistrust science and scientists, taking every opportunity to politicize and theologize the scientific discourse in ways completely incompatible with the goals and modus operandi of the scientific enterprise.”
There are two problems with this proposition. First, the theology of the Bible does not teach people to mistrust science or scientists. It is impossible to mistrust an inanimate object. Science makes no statements of its own, nor does it have the capacity to lie. Strictly speaking, science deals with measurements and observations in the empirical world.
Scientists, however, have earned our mistrust by making irresponsible statements that cannot be verified or proven. Whenever a scientist claims that some rock has been dated to have existed for millions of years, the very dating systems scientists use to make such a statement are built upon vast assumptions, not fact.
Look at the remainder of the article’s statement. “…taking every opportunity to politicize and theologize the scientific discourse in ways completely incompatible with the goals…” I won’t continue it, because the last part of it makes as little sense as the first.
But what goals and “modus operandi” of what scientific enterprise does the statement refer? Evidently, this is left up to us to suppose. Therefore, I suppose this means the modus operandi common to many scientists is to complain and bicker that religion somehow impinges upon their scientific fiefdom and has no business asking questions or requesting proof.
Since there is no objective definition of the “modus operandi,” the statement must mean that religion should be relegated to the dark ages where it belongs: “A country that distrusts science is condemned to move straight back to medieval obscurantism,” the article says.
Trust must be earned, my scientist friends. This you have not done.

2 thoughts on “In Defense of Science?

  1. As you point out, the Bible has no problem with the scientific method. There is a conflict, however, whenever someone limits the possible range of data interpretation to naturalistic causes. Not only is this assumption unwarranted, but data exists which defies naturalistic explanations (e.g. the origin of life) pointing beyond this world.
    There is a sharp philosophical difference between proposing naturalistic evolutionary stories recreating the past and being engaged in experimental research of how the present operates. Unverifiable speculative story telling within an evolutionary framework desires the credibility of experimentation and knowledge of how the present works. The Bible has no problem with the latter (science). The problem is with those who would confuse the issue by claiming the former is also science or has the same credibility as science.

  2. Thanks, Barry, for your nice comment. You’re exactly right. The problem is not with science. It is with scientists who, as you say, confuse the issue, by linking a man-made philosophy to their work.

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