Space for both science and faith

Published 11:53 am Monday, March 26, 2012

I have said here that all sciences work inductively from material particulars toward universal principles of existence but they never can reach the universals because they cannot observe all particulars. Science cannot reach certainty, but only probability. Scientists, when they are content to think in terms of scientific methodology, understand this and accept the necessary limitations of science. In most cases, relative probability is good enough for us all.

Yet, this does not mean there are no universal principles from which we can deduce to particular examples. By the very definition of terms, there are universals precisely because particular means a component of a universal. Precisely because we are able to observe a particular human being, we recognize there is such a thing as humanity (its universal).

But we cannot spend our lives observing every particular human all over the world and because we can neither observe those humans who lived in the past nor those not yet born, we cannot induct to the universal of humanity. A universal, then, cannot be discovered. It must be a given.

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Happily, the universal we need of humanity has, in fact, been given. More specifically, it has been revealed (uncovering what otherwise would not be known) — divinely revealed. General revelation is that sense of God innate within human souls. This has been confused by the moral and cognitive dissonance of society, and an individual can work to eradicate it. General revelation is adequate logically, but has turned out to be insufficient against human obduracy. God has, then, graciously gone further by giving a special revelation of himself and the humanity he created in the scriptures of the Hebrew and Christian faith. It has always been known simply as The Book, the Bible.

If I felt confined to scientific methodology, I would need to (and am willing to) acknowledge the Bible may not be divinely revealed and it may not be true. Not to worry. While I respect the severe limitations of science, I am under no moral or logical obligation to limit my thinking to the limitations of pure science. I do not, and for this I am grateful.

At the same time I confidently acknowledge I cannot prove the Bible scientifically, the adamant scientist is obliged to acknowledge he is incapable of disproving the Bible. Having no argument, he is left without argument against mine, because we use different methodologies. I do not claim to win the argument, but assert there is no argument.

Our difference, however, is not that I reason from a revealed universal to an observed particular and that he reasons from observed particulars (only) toward a probability of a universal. The difference is that I employ both methodologies, while he has only one available to him. While some scientists do not respect any religion, I respect all sciences.

Please do not attempt to dismiss my reasoning as religious faith and not logical reasoning, because what I suggest here is not necessarily religious but it is actually philosophic. Most scientists also reason philosophically, but they do not do so as scientific methodology.

Also, please do not charge I denigrate science, because I respect and embrace it. My joy is science and philosophy, particulars and universals, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. So it is with many, if not most, scientists. There are a few scientists who grandstand with radical views, but these views do not come from the findings of their scientific research or even thinking. Their radical views are consequent to refusing to admit they have departed science and entered speculative philosophy. I respect them as scientists but dismiss them as philosophers.

I thank God for science and scientists, for having created the material world in a form it can be observed empirically so we can learn even more about his creation than he needed to reveal. I thank God for having created humans with the ability to reason. I thank God he has given humans free will. Although many abuse this freedom to think and act against God, it also gives us the freedom and ability to honor and love God. For this in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.