for the love of science

There is a television series which I am plugged into for the first time since I don’t know when: Cosmos. Neil deGrasse Tyson does a masterful job with it, and it frankly leaves me spell-bound, even if I’m a bit lost. I think my wife gets aspects of it better than I, since she has something of a scientific mind. To appreciate science is to appreciate creation, to even become awed by the immensity, complexity and simplicity which makes up the natural world. It has a beauty all its own. The best scientists often are as much into art, so to speak, as science, having a creative flair which can help them see something of the immense creativity present in creation.

Science is good, at least in terms of the basics which make it up: observation, hypothesis, testing, theory, and more observation. Of course the word theory is used not at all in the way it is popularly used, but simply to draw up what has been understood from what has been observed, that being tested and refined in the same ongoing process over time.

Science per se is not the problem, but scientism is. Scientism is basically naturalism, or the idea that everything can be explained in scientific terms. That all of reality is material or somehow observable as part of the natural world. We are so steeped in that kind of thinking and world, that it doesn’t seem all that far fetched to us. Even though strictly speaking it is a statement of faith. In that faith scientism makes the wild declaration that unless something can be verified in scientific terms, we either can’t know, or we can at least doubt it. For example some doubt that one can explain human interactions apart from science. Love for example in their minds is reducible to scientific explanation, indeed the entire world is. That given time, everything could be explained scientifically, in scientific terms. No God of the gaps. I don’t think that idea is all that far fetched, however would that explanation explain it all? I don’t believe so for a moment.

We have all kinds of matters which make the thought that science is the explanation for everything more than questionable. Morality is one example. And the morality of Jesus of Nazareth in particular. The way of the cross, death and resurrection seems at odds with a naturalistic spin, I would think. God’s love expressed in that, and of course a God in the first place who created all things, and will make all things new in a new creation in and through Jesus. That is a faith statement, but to some extent may someday be verified as to its substance and reality in the science to come.

Meanwhile we can thank God for science, for scientists, even as in wonder we look with them at the mystery and beauty of the world, the wonder of creation.