On Science and Faith


scienceI found myself in a conversation with a Young Earth Creationist and climate change denier this week discussing science and faith. It was as fascinating as it was infuriating. Fascinating because this man had done all kind of research and mental gymnastics to prove to himself that the Earth dates back only 6000 years and all of geology dates to the Great Flood of the Bible and that global warming is a divine phenomenon that’s not related to humans at all. Infuriating because the stubborn adherence to Biblical geology and climatology on the grounds that science is wrong is radically inconsistent with the rest of this guy’s life.

Here’s what I mean: this guy fully denied the work of geologists, paleontologists and climatologists on the grounds that their methods were flawed. Their methods being, of course, the standard scientific method of observation, inquiry, hypothesis, experimentation and finally acceptance of rejection of the hypothesis. Never mind that those exact steps resulted in the very computer system he was using to type his rejection of the scientific method. He accepts some science, apparently, just not the ones he doesn’t like.

Here’s the deal. Either science works or it doesn’t. Either the standard approach of empirical research to explain the world around us and make advances in improving our lives is accurate and functional or it is not. You can’t say that the scientific method works for developing treatment for diabetes but not for geology.

Moreover, the reasoning of “god wants it this way” drives me around the bend. God wants the planet to get hotter so we should not avail ourselves of the science to reverse the trend? By that reasoning a cancer diagnosis should mean God also want you to have cancer so you should not avail yourself of treatment to halt the disease. Chemistry and biology are fields as legitimate as geology or climatology, are they not? Why would God approve of medical treatment but not environmental technology? I just don’t understand the reasoning.

This is the same frustration I feel with deeply religious people who argue against birth control because conception is up to God. But as soon as the baby is conceived they hand over their trust to science. Like when Michelle Duggar had to deliver so early because of preeclampsia. The consistent position would have been for her to say “God wanted me to get pregnant, therefore he wants me to have preeclampsia, and if I die or the baby dies, it’s what God wants.”. But that’s not what she did. She chose to interpret God’s will as one in favor of science and sought very high level medical treatments.

I’m in a bad position to discuss all of this because I’m, on my best day, a Deist. I’m willing to consider the “finger of God” igniting the spark of the universe and setting all of this in motion. But in that model, all things since that moment must be part of God’s will. I don’t understand this pickiness of saying God approves of some parts of the results of the ultimate creation but not others. Which is a short way of saying I’m no fan of dogma. Any dogma. Give me evidenced based reasoning any day.

 

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3 comments for “On Science and Faith

  1. May 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    *slow clap*

    I’ve made this same argument before. 🙂

  2. May 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I used to get SO FIRED UP over this (ridiculous) type of thinking. I taught biology so you know, evolution, fun topic for the crazies who are oh-so-capable of being smart until facts get in the way of brainwashed bullshit. I decided I couldn’t let it stress me out too much (I already have high blood pressure) and am trying to be more zen about the fact that people just refuse to KNOW. You can’t beat refusal.

  3. June 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I don’t get people who don’t “believe in” science. I mean…science is the study of our world. I’m a Christian. I believe God made the world (although I don’t believe the Bible is the literal story of that creation because well, I mean…duh). I believe science…all science…is how that world works. It’s just a thing. It’s not something to believe in or not. It’s a THING. Much like a towel is a THING. You can’t say “well I don’t believe in towels. Those are just not truly existing in this world.” I mean…what?

    So to sum up…towels and science are a thing. You don’t get to just not “believe” in it. The end.

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