Seeing Science in the Wild

The things this lesson claimed about science aren’t all true. For example, it’s not true “science has a difficult time dealing” with events that only happened one time. Scientists have theories about things that happened just once, like their theory that a meteorite or comet caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, which happened only once, according to theory. (This is a reaction to the January 25 bible study lesson at http://ssnet.org/lessons/13a/less04.html.)

An event that happened only once can’t be tested or repeated. But scientists can form a theory about the event and then test and repeat certain experiments to decide whether that theory makes sense. For example, they can test the soil for levels of minerals that would be there if a meteorite had hit the Earth. They can search fossil layers for a level of meteorite dust.

Not that I believe that theory necessarily. Not that I’m saying science is perfect. I’m just saying that scientists can make theories about events that have only happened once. And we’re not going to help anyone by putting down science based on misunderstandings of what science is.

It pretty much never makes sense to say, “science does this” or “science can’t do that,” because it’s really all just people: there never is a thing called “science” out there in the wild on its own doing things. It’s people doing things, investigating the world, trying to do a better and better job of understanding nature while following certain rules.

I’m getting this partly from Del Ratzsch’s book Science and Its Limits, an excellent book by a Christian who also has a PhD in the philosophy of science. One insight from that book is that there actually isn’t a single definition of science. We think there is because there are definitions in textbooks and dictionaries. But human beings made up those definitions. Human beings can change them. Human beings can study nature in various ways.newton5

If science is the search for truth, why can’t we include God and revealed truth in that? Who has the authority to make rules stopping us? Of course, we don’t want anyone to be lazy when searching for truth, giving up easily and stating, “God did it.” But allowing God into science doesn’t have to lead to laziness. Many scientists in history have studied nature as a way to glorify and worship God. If that’s your motivation, instead of being lazy, you could work really hard to honor Him.

~Lemuel Bach
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)

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