3 False Assumptions about Science

By Leah Baugh

Our modern society celebrates reason and rationality as the pinnacle of man’s virtue and ability. Particularly the field of science has been influenced greatly by the idolization of reason and logic as the source of all meaningful and true knowledge. The scientific method in particular has claimed rational superiority to any other method of determining reality. It is this superiority that has been used to exclude religion or faith as a viable mode of knowledge. Science has often been used to push God out of the picture.

Part of the reason science and God seem incompatible is a misunderstanding of what exactly “science” means. Unless you’ve worked in a scientific field of study, it can be easy to simply trust the experts without knowing how to check their conclusions yourself.  There are several things to note when evaluating science and what it claims to say about faith, God, and this world. Briefly, here are three false assumptions about science.

1. Scientific conclusions are made up completely of empirical facts.

The results of hypothesizing and experimenting do not just produce objective facts. The information gained through the scientific method must be interpreted and can be interpreted falsely. Physicist John Polkinghorne writes in his book Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity (London, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1994),

In the first case, the facts that concern scientists are already interpreted facts. Most of the time you can’t see directly what’s happening. You have to infer it from the things you can see, and that inference requires the use of theoretical interpretation. (p. 2-3)

He goes on to say that scientific conclusions are usually a mix of fact and opinion. Because of the interpretive element of the scientist, most scientific conclusions have a measure of uncertainty inherent in them…

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