~by Randy Bushey
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).
Every worldview exercises faith.
Even the naturalist – the person believing that everything originates and operates exclusively through the natural forces of physics – has faith. The naturalist’s faith position, is that such a conclusion – that the forces of nature account for everything in our world, and beyond – is, to their mind, supported by evidence and experience.
Consequently, many of our contemporaries have adopted science as their new religion.1
How often do we hear that science has eliminated the need for God? Or more extremely that science disproves God’s existence?
One UK publication headlined an article on the late British theoretical physicist this way: “Stephen Hawking Declares That Science Can Prove God Does Not Exist”. As sometimes (?) happens, the headline overstated the article’s content. However, Professor Hawking was quoted as concluding, “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation.”2
Furthermore, scientism is the belief that truth can be known only through science – through the process of empirical verification. If it can’t be verified through testing and observation – the scientific method – then it can’t be known to be real.
All of this conjecture should motivate theists – particularly those believing the God of the Bible – to think critically and carefully about such big ideas.
Let’s start with the statement affirming scientism above.
On careful analysis, it is apparent that the claim is self-refuting. Why? Simply because that statement – as an assertion of truth – cannot be verified through the empirical scientific method.
In other words, the claim itself can’t be shown to be true through testing and observation
It therefore is untrue because it fails its own test, its own truth criteria.
And how trusting should we be of published scientific work? In short, are scientific results to be swallowed unquestioningly?
Consider this jaw-dropping finding in 2012 by the science journal Nature: out of 53 landmark papers in cancer research, only 11% could be reproduced. In other words, the vast majority of the most significant of published findings in this highly-funded field were questionable because other scientists could not verify the empirical reports!3
Five years later, an article in Nature found that after “numerous studies … failure to replicate published findings is the norm”.4
The article went on to explain, “In the competitive crucible of modern science, various perverse incentives conspire to undermine the scientific method, leading to a literature littered with unreliable findings”.4
Dr.Kirk Durston states the ugly truth: “The problem is not with experimental science; it is with human nature under the influence of pressure to publish, the desire for academic advancement, and competition for funding. Where the funding goes, so goes the corrupting influence of human nature. At present, two major funding areas are cancer research and climate change. If you wish to see where human frailty experiences the greatest pressure, follow the funding”.5
So much for blind faith in science!
And in the basic principle of honesty in reporting that has always been a bedrock assumption in the scientific enterprise.
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has frequently made this observation: in the western world, a post-truth paradigm is embraced; students in the finest institutions of higher learning are taught to doubt the existence of absolute truth; additionally, the agenda of relativism posits that morals and ethics are subjective, because everyone finds meaning in themselves, according to what works for them. And yet, when these students graduate and employ that post-truth, relativistic, I’ll-decide-what’s-right-for-me thinking in their vocational lives – distorting financial records for quarterly corporate reporting, intentionally misleading voters with fake news, lying under oath while in court, fudging experimental results – we are shocked.
As poet Steve Turner concluded almost 3 decades ago, “it is but the sound of man worshiping his maker”.
Takeaway: false experimental reporting in the sciences is not driving the cultural shift in devaluing truth; it is merely a symptom.
Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31,32).
1.John Gideon Hartnett, biblescienceforum.com, April 2, 2015.
2.Arjun Varma, ibtimes.co.uk, July 20, 2015.
3.C.Glenn Begley & Lee M. Ellis, Raise standards for preclinical cancer research, nature.com, March 29, 2012.
5.Kirk Durston, Faith and Science: Part I – Experimental science and implications for faith in science and God, kirkdurston.com, March 27, 2019.
~graphic by H. Berends, freeimages.com.