What is “Science”?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 8, 2020 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Science is one of the core subjects in most if not all high school curriculum, along with English, Math, and Social Studies. Every student (at least in Texas) needs to take four years of science classes: biology, chemistry, physics, and a 4th science of a student’s choice (from what the school offers). Assuming that the student comes out of these courses actually having learned about the inside of cells, chemical reactions, Newton’s Laws, DNA, stoichiometry, electricity and so on, there is a legitimate question that needs to be asked. In all this: are they really leaning what “science” as a field of study actually is?

As a physics teacher, we have so much material we have to cover that generally, the basic nature of the scientific method and the process of scientific investigation is really just skimmed over. By the time the kids are done with their first quarter, that knowledge is gone. That is something I want to be addressing more in my own classes as I start preparing for the next school year.

In my discussions on Facebook about science with people from laymen to PhDs, I am greatly disturbed by what is being taught overall about what “science” is. There is hardly any mention of the scientific method in scientific papers (like less than 1% of them). Some of the PhDs I talk with demonstrate they really don’t even understand the scientific method, because they run away at the call for “experimentation” when addressing things like origins.

But another aspect that I’ve seen pop up over the last couple years is this phrase “methodological naturalism.” That is what they say “science” is. Now science basically is the “study of the natural world,” but “methodological naturalism” is NOT a study of the natural world; it is the practice of “philosophical naturalism.” Let me explain.

When I teach physics, we keep things at a very basic level. When we cover the Law of Conversation of Energy, we typically ignore factors like friction, air resistance, etc. in the examination of a roller coaster. We can specifically rule out certain factors for the purpose of our analysis. The study of nature can be likened to that. You can zoom in and specifically examine how certain things operate under normal circumstances, while setting aside how the fuller, bigger picture actually works. Similarly, a Christian can carry out the scientific process and still believe in God and in miracles because that is part of a much bigger picture.

“Methodological naturalism” does not allow for this. This thinking only allows the factors that the analyst wants considered and does not look at the potential bigger picture. This comes from the philosophy that God cannot be considered in any scientific study because He is not testable, nor can miracles be put under a scientist’s microscope for “testable predictions.” I would suggest those making these arguments really don’t understand how to use science properly, because they are using it to make claims it cannot make. The same person that says, “God is outside the realm of science” to reject the claims of the Bible is the same person that demands that God and his work be held to the same “scientific standards.” I call that a contradiction, trying to have their cake and eat it too. If God is outside the realm of science, then science is not the right tool for analyzing the things of God.

Science has effectively been made into a “god” of our day. What all the pagan societies in the Ancient Near East worshipped can be effectively condensed into one deity today that is called “science,” which Creationists have accurately dubbed “Scientism.” It’s the worship of nature. It’s the same lie. It’s not even really “methodological naturalism.” It’s actually a form of pantheism, giving the creation the creative attributes of God and the worship of nature. I’ll go into greater detail on this later on in another post. I’ve been connecting some dots between these ideas and the Gnostics and the pagan societies of the ANE because they have the same recycled core ideas.

Methodological naturalism does not allow for any consideration outside its box, and thus the separation from this and “philosophical naturalism” is simply playing word games to avoid having to account for denying God His place as the Creator and as the Master of this Universe. The fact is we cannot truly understand science without understanding God. We may get a good idea for how some things generally work, but as science history has shown, we could be so dead wrong that 10, 20, or 30 years from now, the whole thing could be revamped.

God is the Creator. He didn’t just create the heavens and the earth; He made every being on this planet and wrote the laws by which our universe operates in the natural. But God didn’t merely set up the physical universe to operate on its own while sitting back and letting it go. Colossians tells us that He is the one who upholds the universe. God is the one maintaining and sustaining these laws we have only just begun to understand. To this day, there is no explanation for how the “laws of science” came about other than “God made them.” Those who deny God His place here will fumble, bumble, and dance but never actually give a clear, coherent answer.

God also doesn’t want us trying to figure out universe on our own. He wants us to explore what He created with Him. Every time we find a new discovery of fact like a new plant species or a new galaxy, God is saying, “Hey, I’ve got more. You want to see it?” The truly best scientists who actually discovered and found out how things operate knew that God had to be the Mind behind it all. Isaac Newton was one of them. He is attributed to saying that science is “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” If you practice science and come to the conclusion that God is not involved in any of this, you haven’t done your job right, if at all.

Another person, to whom nearly every person in modern society is forever indebted to knew that he could not have done what he did without God’s wisdom, is George Washington Carver. He literally saved the South of the U.S. from an economic disaster because of over dependence upon the cotton crop. He knew that the solution was the peanut, at which was not even on the Farmer’s Almanac as a potential crop at the time. So, he went to his lab and prayed, “God, you made this plant. I know this can help my people. Show me why you made it and what I can do with it.” Carver did not practice “methodological naturalism” in investigating the peanut plant. He practiced science as it should be practiced: taking dominion over the earth and submitting it to and for God’s purposes. He came up with over 300 uses for the peanut from food to cosmetics to more, and he said he had only scratched the surface for what this plant could do. And if he did not seek the advice of the Creator, he very likely would have only come up with a fraction of that.

Now where do miracles play a role in science? That’s really outside the scope of this post, however, let me quickly address it: miracles are one-time events that cannot be investigated scientifically, but they can be investigated for authenticity via the “evidentiary method.” Miracles are not a “violation” of scientific principles as some are wont to describe them, but rather God intervening when natural means alone cannot explain it. God did not change the laws of buoyancy and density when both Jesus and Peter walked on water. He simply held both Jesus and Peter up. Methodological naturalism denies even the prospect of miracles or outside influences, thus they can never give a truly accurate picture.

What is science? Science is a tool that helps us understand the universe God created. It is not a philosophy. It is not a god. It has no creative power. It has no decision-making ability. It is a tool, a tool that has limits and cannot be used for every application. It is very useful and very practical, however it is not the end of all statements on any matter. God is. Any study of science we do must submit to God’s plan and God’s purposes. But if we step away from doing proper science and step into methodological naturalism, we steal from God his glory and deny Him what He deserves. He is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with another, let alone a “natural process.” Let us do our science properly, and it can only be done properly when it is an act of worship of the One True God, as a searching for His mind on what He did when He created everything. And when we are done, let us worship Him in awe of the great Mind that put all this together and makes it all work, even under the curse. I love science, but I love God even more. And I love how all science when fully investigated and properly analyzed will always and only reveal the Creator and the record He gave. As we study our world, let’s never forget our Creator nor fail to give Him His due glory.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Unknown said...

Super true science basically seeks to unravel the mysterious of creation the universe and the Forces

Unknown said...

Very well written and stated. I struggle with some of the same things while teaching chemistry as you do in teaching physics. Sometimes it works.