10 Things Science cannot do

by Khaldoun A. Sweis

“I don’t believe in anything that is not physical–I only believe what science tells me is true,” is what a student of mine told me as he came into my office in the Spring of 2013.  For this post, I will address ten things we cannot learn from science alone.

The view called naturalism, (also called scientism or materialism) holds that nothing but the physical world exists. This view is false on many accounts.  See my article on on the issue here where I address the problems of this atheistic worldview (you can also listen to the talk I gave on itunes here.) But for now, are there 10 things we cannot learn or glen from science alone.

Science (derived from Latin scientia, meaning ‘knowledge’) is a way of looking at and researching the world.  I am not nocking science or scientific research!  It is a wonderful gift of God to make sense of creation and that we have used and are using use to make our world a better place.

But science alone does not tell us everything. For now, I will list ten things we cannot do with science alone.

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1. Logical truths: These must be accepted as foundational presuppositions in order for us to engage in any scientific study, so we clearly can’t use science to prove logic.  In fact it is the other way around.  We need logic to make sense of science.  My wife cannot be pregnant and not pregnant at the same time and same sense. A truth cannot be false at the same time as it is true. If all mothers are women, than every mother we meet must of necessity be a woman.  There is no escape from this. These are logical truths that science relies upon.

2. Metaphysical truths: Some truths about the nature of the world (such as whether or not the external world is what we think it is, our free will and our personhood) cannot be determined through the use of the hard sciences.  Your personal identity, your sense of self and personhood is not found in your DNA alone.

3. Moral and ethical truths: Science cannot tell us what is morally virtuous or vile.  It tells us what “is.” But it does not tell us what “ought to be” (related to moral judgments). Science can tell you who died, how he died and what way he was killed. But it cannot tell you if he was murdered–it cannot tell you if it was wrong to kill him.  Sam Harris and many others tried but failed to do this.

4. Aesthetic truths: Science cannot help us to determine or judge what is beautiful or what is ugly…


10 Things Science cannot do – Logically Faithful