Faith and the Scientific Method (by Len Winneroski)

Unknown“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1, NIV


Are God and science compatible?  I have been a Christian and a research scientist for over twenty years, so this is a very relevant question to me.   I have always been fascinated with the world around me, and have been driven to observe, study and try to understand how life works and why it exists.  I have encountered many scientists over the years that believe that science and religion should not be mixed.  They believe that science attempts to answer the “how” questions, and that religion should be limited to answering the “why” questions.  On the other hand, there are many scientists, like me, who believe that trying to separate faith and science is like trying to separate oxygen and fire.  I approach science from the belief that there are unseen realities (like oxygen) that dictate the observable world around us (fire).  The divergent path for scientists is whether they believe that the “unseen realities” of the universe are the product of chaos and chance (Big Bang Theory, evolution) or design and purpose (Intelligent Design, Creation).

The modern scientific method is a cyclical process of; 1) developing testable hypotheses (ideas) about how things work in the world around us, 2) designing/running experiments that challenge your idea, 3) collecting and critically analyzing the data from the experiments and, 4) drawing data-based conclusions which then lead to new questions and hypotheses.  As you can see the scientific method is always a “work in progress” and scientists love the challenge of looking for “truth” in the natural world.

There are opponents to faith that would suggest that “testable” is the key word that excludes faith from science.  I would argue that all scientists have faith.  Two “acceptable” scientific words/concepts for faith are assumptions and hand waving.  Assumption is defined as something taken for granted, a supposition, arrogance or presumption.  Hand waving is defined as insubstantial words, arguments, gestures, or actions used in an attempt to explain or persuade.  Anyone working in the area of science will quickly recognize these terms.  The very nature of the scientific method dictates that you have to have faith, or assume that something may be true (or not true) before you can even develop a hypothesis to test.

Since I believe the universe was created by and for God, when I approach science, I already know the “why,” so I am only left with trying to understand the “how.”  I believe that any rational scientist would have to admit that studying the “how” of the universe forces one to contemplate the “why.”  I am amazed that scientists like Stephen Hawking (a British theoretical physicist) and Francis Crick (DNA double helix) find it easier to believe in aliens than in God.  Why do some scientists like Crick acknowledge the incredible design inherent in the universe by their believe in alien directed panspermia (panspermia is the hypothesis that “seeds” of life exist throughout the universe and that life on earth may have originated from these “seeds”)?  Is it because acknowledgement of God means acknowledgment of sin and man’s finite role in the universe?  I pray for a day when all scientists will come to their senses and admit the obvious.  There is a God and we are not Him.

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