“Real science can be far stranger than science fiction
and much more satisfying.” Steven Hawking
This week is one of those, “where were you when…?” for me. My family was in Ormond Beach, Florida. I’ll always remember being called in from the pool to watch a grainy broadcast and hear those immortal words from Neil Armstrong, “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
As a young man, I had a teacher, Mrs. Ethel Cornelius, who instilled in me and all of her other charges a love for science. We were enthralled with amoebas and paramecium.
Too often there’s a seeming war between Christianity and Science. Yet, God as the Creator, created Science. The conflict comes when science is deified and supplants God’s rightful place. Science then becomes an idol.
Unfortunately, many deify those in white lab coats as the new priests of truth, yet what is sacrificed is true Science. As Alina Bradford writes in Live Science, “The explanation of a phenomenon is called a scientific theory. It is a misconception that theories turn into laws with enough research.” Yet, it is theory that’s consistently forced down the throat of a naïve public as scientific laws and facts. It’s junk science and more Science Fiction that actual science.
A Wall Street Journal article entitled, “How Bad is the Government’s Science?” (04-16-18) points this out. It begins with a quote from John Ioannidis, a Stanford professor, “Half the results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are probably wrong.” He first made that claim in 2005. Since then, researchers have confirmed his skepticism by trying—and often failing—to reproduce many influential journal articles. Slowly, scientists are internalizing the lessons of this irreproducibility crisis.
According to the WSJ article, the biggest newsmakers in the crisis have been from the field of Psychological Science, which while often capturing massive media attention, “scientific truth” has frequently proved irreproducible and cannot be replicated by others. For one 2015 article in Science, independent researchers attempted to replicate 100 prominent psychology studies with only a 39% success rate.
It’s not overly surprising. Some of us have been around long enough to remember when “recovered memory therapy” was a psycho-therapy fad and the horrible damage resulting false charges caused in family relationships. I still remember a man telling me he’d learned that he’d been molested as a child through a “recovered memory therapy” session, though there was no evidence it ever actually took place. It’s probably not an accident that Shirley MacLaine’s, Out on a Limb, was popular during that same era where she claimed that she’d once lived in Atlantis, a fictional island created by Plato, and is a reincarnated Buddhist monk.
In 2012 the biotechnology firm, Amgen, attempted to reproduce 53 “landmark” studies in hematology and oncology. The outcome was that they could only replicate six. A serious question must be asked: Are doctors basing serious medical decisions about medical treatment on unverified studies? A 2015 study estimated American researchers spend $28 billion annually on irreproducible preclinical research.
Contrary to the Conventional Wisdom of our day, scientists are not infallible. Much of what’s purported as scientific fact is theory, and sometimes not even good “theory.” Yet, our culture is so beholden to science and so-called statistical evidence that we’re easily exploitable when either “deity” is used to prove a point.
John Calvin wisely warned that “the human heart is an idol factory.” Rejection of biblical truth is enticing for those who do not want to submit to God as their Creator, Sovereign and Judge. This tendency to churn out new, cutting-edge findings is often a smokescreen for an autonomous humanity rebelling against the commands of God’s Word, particularly on social issues. It’s often driven more by volition, not intellect.
The trust is that we still know so little about Creation. The science is far from settled. It’s imperative then that we think and keep asking critical questions. As Bible-believers, we’re not looking to science as the final word. In the end, it’s not statistics or experiments that prove our case. It’s God’s Word. When we add science to our argument, let’s make sure it’s real science and valid statistics. The God of all truth demands that.
Then, we need believers who are honest scientists. It will require great courage and boldness to stand up against accepted groupthink. It will usually bring great ridicule. Intellectuals aren’t known for being gracious or generous with those who dare to disagree. There’s great peer pressure to conform. Many a Christian on a university campus has caved rather than be publicly ridiculed for being so “ignorant.” Yet, shouldn’t Science encourage us to think and ask questions, not pressure us on how to think?
Bible-believers are continually derided for seeking to maintain, in the face of scientific thinking, the belief that God created humans as they are now. We do not bow before the lab door or view scientists as the sole authority on science issues. Scientists are not god-like nor do we worship science as a god. The same lab producing the latest theory purported as “fact,” often with further research contradicts that same “fact” with new research.
Antitheists and elitists love to trot out Galileo and his abuse by the Catholic Church for his views that contradicted the Church’s then teaching that was later proved to be accurate. The shoe is now on the other foot. It’s Christians who are abused and ridiculed by scientists. Though the Bible has proven accurate over and over again, don’t hold your breath waiting for scientists to admit God’s Word is accurate and their theories have been proven false. Pride often motivates us to cling to obvious fallacy because submitting to a Sovereign God is unthinkable for a rebellious heart.
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