Science Is Not The Most Important Subject

It Never Will Be, Either

By William M Briggs Published on February 20, 2018

What’s with all the deference shown to science among religious folks?

As soon as a scientist, or science cheerleader, starts talking about a conflict between religion and science, a Christian apologist trots out and pleads, “There is no contradiction between science and Christianity.”

Well, that’s true. But too often this response grants science more territory than it deserves. This is the wrong instinct. There’s no need of meek acceptance of science’s superior ground. Science does not hold the hill. It is down in the valley boasting big. Christians need to recognize this. When a scientist starts waving his slide rule around in a menacing manner, the Christian should say What is wrong with you people?

The Limitations of Science

Science is terrific. But isn’t everything. It isn’t even most things. Knowing the weight of a neutrino won’t tell you why stealing is a sin. Positing some mathematical formula for altruism and selfish genes won’t tell you why men cooperate. All arguments along this line are circular or invalid, anyway. They either assume what they want to know, like that rape is wrong. Or they assume that alone among men, the scientist has escaped the pull of his biology and can tell you how things really are.

Look. Figuring how to create a magnetic monopole won’t get you into Heaven. It won’t keep you out, either. So why are scientists so combative about religion?

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The hope of some scientists is that a culture that embraces science will eschew religion. Science will allow humanity to leave its infancy behind and lead it to a bright, happy future where everybody goes around chatting about the reproductive habits of newts.

But not discussing why it’s right or wrong to kill yourself. Scientists figure they can handle those tough questions themselves, or rather explain them away, and then tell the rest of us their “discovery.” This is a vain hope. Why?

The Importance of Science Isn’t Scientific

Given how it defines itself, natural science can speak with some authority only about the measurable properties of things. That’s it. Nothing more. About elementary fermions science is teeming with a lot o’ news. It has many cheerful facts about your brainwaves when you take a snooze.

But why science is possible in the first place, why mathematics is so important, and even of what mathematics is, science, as the term is now used, is necessarily mute. Scientists yap away, all right, but it’s always a bluff. Science cannot tell you what it’s like to experience an emotion, or to have a flash of insight. Science can never say why the universe is the way it is. It can only work with what it has. Why whatever is at the base of the physical world is that way and not another, or why there is something rather than nothing at all, are questions for theists and philosophers, not scientists — at least not in their official capacity.

You Cant Measure the Unmeasurable

Insofar as natural science is about measurement, it can’t tell us about God. You can’t put a yardstick to God. Again, given how scientists define their field, questions about God can never be scientific. But few scientists are consistent on this point. This is why exasperation is the only proper response to the scientist who prattles on about needing “evidence” for God. Just what exact evidence does he have in mind? Call his bluff and ask him. What evidence would he accept? Like the time God took on flesh and walked among us as a man?

It would be swell if more people knew more science. But it would be grander if they knew more Christianity, philosophy, and history.

You cannot see, and therefore cannot measure, what cannot be seen. God is immaterial and infinite, omnipotent, omniscient. The infinite cannot be plumbed. There is nowhere to point a telescope and see God the Father.

This isn’t a cop out. You can’t see numbers, either, or the continuum on which modern calculations are based. You can see individual things, but you can’t see or measure the logic used to make scientific judgments. So scientists don’t apply their rule even to their own discipline. Science is awash in abstractions, religion and philosophy, just like every other human endeavor. It is only that science pretends these things somehow don’t exist. And it then expects us not to notice the contradiction.

Loving God Does Not Mean Hating Science

I critique science as a scientist. I’ve worked in medicine, electrical engineering, space and earth weather, climatology (now more a branch of politics), and other areas of physics. I know by experience that science is a fine thing. It gives tinkerers their ideas, which in turn become the stuff that churns things along. It would be swell if more people knew more science. But it would be grander if they knew more Christianity, philosophy, and history.

Focusing on science dodges the big questions. Make that The Big Question. Every question is secondary to this one. So why should we defer to the judgment of people on the one matter they have made their biggest error?

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