In our last article in this category on Understanding Science, we answered the question “What is Science?” I quoted a definition by Stephen S. Carey, author of “A Beginner’s Guide to Scientific Method”. On page 5, he defines science as “that activity which aims to further our understanding of why things happen as they do in the natural world [emphasis added]. It accomplishes this goal by applications of scientific method – the process of observing nature [emphasis added], isolating a facet that is not well understood and then proposing and testing possible explanations.”
Supernatural vs. Natural
I added emphasis to his points about “natural world” and “observing nature” to make a point about a common conflict Christians and Non-Christians have on the topic of science.
We seem to get into fights with scientists anytime we (Christians, theists) want to explain things through SUPERnatural means. We get into conflicts when we push to have Biblical, supernatural Creation included in public school science classes.
To be clear, I believe in the supernatural; the power of God that exists beyond the merely natural. I “know” it exists, even if I can’t scientifically prove it.
And I totally get that if you are limiting the definition of science to that which is naturally explainable and testable, then supernatural explanations fall outside the scope of what science is designed for.
Does that mean science is impotent to explain the world as we know it? I believe science is genetically handicapped by not considering ALL possible explanations, but it is by no means impotent. And I would say the same thing about Christians and our theistic beliefs. If we exclude scientific knowledge and explanations from our understanding of the world, we are also voluntarily handicapping our ability to understand the world better.
Although science and faith don’t mix very well, we should not ignore science or fail to embrace the study and discovery of things that it CAN test and explain.
Although science and faith don’t mix very well, we should not ignore science or fail to embrace the study and discovery of things that it CAN test and explain. We should not turn a blind eye to things that science has informed us about.
It does not end with Science
Where I draw the line at is thinking that science is the end-all, be-all of human tools to understand our world. I don’t believe it’s the ONLY source of reason and intelligence we should embrace. I believe an understanding of our natural world is enhanced by a Christian, and yes…a supernatural and spiritually affirming world view.
In fact, in my view, as Christians who believe in a supernatural power beyond ourselves, I believe we have the ability to contribute greatly to the ever-increasing understanding of our world. We can do so by embracing the power of science and the scientific method IN ADDITION TO embracing our God and the explanations provided by a spiritually inspired Bible.
But maybe we just shouldn’t call such natural+supernatural inquiry “science” since doing so causes so much commotion within academic scientific circles. That term, as defined by Stephen S. Carey, might just not be comprehensive enough to do the job. Maybe we should call it something more evolved than science. Maybe we should simply call it the search for truth; being open-minded and “free thinking” enough to pursue and validate ALL truth explanations, regardless of where that truth might lead us.