Saturday, September 4, 2010
One thing I have learned about the scientific method is that when a person makes a hypothesis it is supposed to be worded in way in which it can be proven wrong. Any hypothesis that cannot be proven wrong is in fact not a real hypothesis. I would go on to say that any “hypothesis” made that cannot be disproven is more likely an attempt to protect an unexamined often comforting preexisting belief with the more reliable words of science.
I am not a scientist but as I study science more I find that the thing I admire most about the scientific quest for knowledge is that it is self-correcting. Any truth claim must undergo rigorous testing and examination both by those who believe it and those who do not believe it and ultimately no matter how long a belief is held to be true it always remains open to further scrutiny and investigation. And the scientists themselves encourage and value this never ending process because it is in fact what undergirds the entire scientific system, inquiry relying on testing and demanding evidence.
God is mysterious I am often told. His ways are not our ways. Scripture tells me that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Cor. 3:19) therefore I should trust in God and lean not on my own understanding. (Prov. 3:5) Trust is submission to God and this is often expressed through worship. God demands veneration. I find this problematic for while I believe that the mysterious can and should generate awe in those who see it, it does not deserve reverence rather it requires inquiry. Similarly truth claims, especially those that have been “revealed”, call not for blind acceptance but rather skepticism. Skepticism and inquiry are two foundational pillars in science’s search for truth whose value cannot be overstated. It is skepticism that drives the human pursuit for knowledge forward and it is inquiry that is the tool used to unearth that knowledge. The skeptic, no different than the believer, can maintain a sense of wonder at the world around them the difference is that the skeptic’s wonder drives her on her quest for understanding whereas the believer’s wonder makes her comfortable without it.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, skepticism comes with a high price it costs one the safe innocence that can make the mind so comfortable and life so easy to understand. Skepticism can’t make you feel warm inside, it can’t fulfill all our emotional desires nor can it or offer the promise of eternal life instead it can only promise you that after all your hard work, long nights, constant confusion and numerous worries you will know more about the world then when you began and yet be in greater wonder then before.
Trust in yourself and lean not on the Lord’s understandings, in all your ways inquiry Him and you will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6?)