Conservative Christian: When one believes that science is at least the most reliable or meaningful way to truth, if not the only way to find truth, one is promoting scientism. It seems that most people who hold to such views come out of a materialistic worldview and promote scientific materialism. It also seems quite popular in academia and even in some more “educated” areas of society. Scientism, however, is not science, rather it is an arbitrary and non-factual worldview.
…The often overlooked fact of our day and age is that Christians made the scientific enterprise, and built it upon biblical principles and presuppositions. It grew out of philosophy and Christian theology.
Gary: I don’t know of too many skeptics who claim that science is the one and only source of truth. What most of us do claim is that science has proven to be the most RELIABLE source of investigating our universe. Compare the accuracy of the truth formulations of science (stated as “theories” ) with the truth formulations (doctrines, dogma) of the world’s religions (including Christianity) and one sees just how much more reliable science is compared to religion.
And one great thing about science is that there are no sacred cows. Isaac Newton’s theories stood for centuries only to be drastically revised in the twentieth century by Albert Einstein. Any scientific theory or “law” is open to revision or even abandonment when new and better evidence is discovered. One scientist’s new evidence is never accepted as “fact” until it has been reviewed and picked apart by other scientists in the field. Scientists LOVE to prove each other’s theories wrong! This may seem harsh but it is what keeps science so up to date, fine tuned, and so remarkably reliable.
Look at what happens in religion when someone presents new evidence that challenges a well-established Christian doctrine or teaching. Established religion did not greet Copernicus’ new astronomical theory with enthusiasm and eagerness to review his evidence but by denunciation. Religion has doctrines (dogmas) which cannot be challenged. Scientific theories are ALWAYS open to challenge. Challenge and scrutiny in science is welcomed and encouraged while in religion it is denounced and even persecuted.
So, science is not the answer to all questions. But believing that science is the best method for evaluating our universe is not anti-God. One can still believe in God and believe that science is the best method of evaluating universal truth claims. No, you can’t use science to determine if your spouse really loves you, if blue is the best color, or if the Patriots are the greatest football team of all time. But those are not universal truths. Those are opinions and preferences.
And what about the claim that science developed out of Christianity? I would say that science developed IN SPITE OF Christianity. It is true that the scientific method was first enunciated by Francis Bacon, a professing Christian, but his insights were founded on Roman and Greek philosophical principles combined with philosophical principles from the Muslim East. So to say that science is a direct result of Christianity is false. Read this article about the true history of the scientific method:
Source: The Dark Ages, circa A.D. 500 to 1100, were characterized by a general erosion of civilization. Knowledge from the ancient Romans survived in only a few monasteries and cathedral and palace schools, while knowledge from ancient Greece almost disappeared completely. From right before the Dark Ages until about a century after, there were almost no important scientific advances. The Catholic Church became very powerful in Europe, and religious dogma governed much of what people thought and believed. Those whose beliefs or practices strayed from the church were “rehabilitated” and brought back into the fold. Resistance often led to persecution.
Then, in what is now known as the Renaissance of the 12th century, came a period of reawakening. As European scholars became exposed to knowledge and cultures cultivated in the Islamic world and other regions beyond their boundaries, they became reacquainted with the works of ancient scholars like Aristotle, Ptolemy and Euclid. This provided a common platform and vocabulary on which to build an extended scientific community that could share ideas and inspire creative problem-solving.
Some of the important thinkers to emerge during and after the Renaissance include:
- Albertus Magnus (1193-1250) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), two students of scholasticism, a philosophical system emphasizing the use of reason in exploring questions of philosophy and theology. Magnus made a distinction between revealed truth (revelation of something unknown through a divine power) and experimental science and made many scientific observations in astronomy, chemistry, geography and physiology.
- Roger Bacon (c.1210-c.1293), an English Franciscan friar, philosopher, scientist and scholar who called for an end to blind acceptance of widely accepted writings. In particular, he targeted Aristotle’s ideas, which, while valuable, were often accepted as fact even when evidence did not support them.
- Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a successful lawyer and influential philosopher who did much to reform scientific thinking. In his “Instauratio Magna,” Bacon proposed a new approach to scientific inquiry, which he published in 1621 as the “Novum Organum Scientiarum.” This new approach advocated inductive reasoning as the foundation of scientific thinking. Bacon also argued that only a clear system of scientific inquiry would assure man’s mastery over the world.
Francis Bacon was the first to formalize the concept of a true scientific method, but he didn’t do so in a vacuum.
End of post.