“In the long search for truth, we have often reached wrong conclusions both in science and religion….Life demands that we keep learning. Otherwise we become shunted off into dark pockets of error.”
(Franklin S. Harris, Science and Your Faith in God, Bookcraft, 1958, p 93).
Scientific method entails supposition and conjecture. Without exception, these always encompass the probability of error. History chronicles countless scientific concepts created on incorrect and erroneous suppositions. Most of us can, without difficulty, bring to mind so called “scientific facts” which have now been demonstrated to be incorrect, inaccurate or flawed.
Some of the obvious assumptions include:
The world is flat. Earth is the center of the universe. Chemical elements cannot be divided into smaller particles. Newton’s laws explain all forms of motion. Outer space is filled with ether.
Less dramatic assumptions in the field of science have led to even larger blunders than those mentioned above.
“Science is not a body of indisputable and immutable truth,” wrote Anthony Standen in his book Science is a Sacred Cow. (E.P. Dutton & Son, Inc., New York, 1950). “It is a body of well-supported probable opinion only, and its ideas may be exploded at any time.”
When our opinions are based on a false assumption, we can defend all kinds of mendacities as true and accurate. Incorrect suppositions can seem to progress plausibly and even appear accurate. Time has shown that hypotheses fabricated on false suppositions will eventually crumble but an assertion originating from a true and accurate assumption will persevere.
Suppositions take a pronounced position both in science and in religion. Certain religious principles can be founded on false beliefs and yet appear truthful and reasonable. It is as easy and, indeed, just as common in religion to espouse a false notion as it is in science, conceivably even more so. Science, in general, is more proficient than religion at examining and extinguishing fallacious premises. In science, when a theory is observed to be incorrect, it is usually rescinded. Religion is somewhat less inclined to consider false concepts and false traditions among its beliefs and teachings.
As stated above by Franklin S. Harris, we should never stop learning. This is as equally true in religion as it is in science. The views most people have of religion were acquired in childhood. Much of the world’s opinion regarding religion is founded on kindergarten concepts. When we fall behind in our religious learning, religion appears irrational. Many have abandoned religion simply because they failed to develop their spiritual knowledge along with their temporal knowledge. Only immature religion is unintelligent.
Some individuals feel that, in this Age of Enlightenment, established religion cannot endure the onslaught of scientific discovery. In his book, Issues in Evolution, (University of Chicago Press, 1960, p. 252). Sir Julian Huxley wrote, “In the evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer either need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created; it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body. So did religion.”
In contrast to this viewpoint, others maintain that there has been an abundance of evidence to support the existence of God which parallels and even surpasses the surge of scientific advances.
Any rational, thinking person would be obliged to investigate the evidence for the existence of God. Unfortunately, average intellects are disinclined to consider issues that present a threat to their comfortable and convenient existence.
“Come now,” counsels the prophet Isaiah, “and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18). On one side of the argument there are people who allege to be atheists or agnostics; on the other are those who affirm that they “know” God lives. Is either being misled or deceived?
Seven significant statements to consider are the following:
1. When they discard their false ideologies, no conflict will exist between exact science and true religion. The disagreement is not between science and religion but between two differing philosophies, one of which hides behind a pretense of scientific propriety.
2. Both faith and reason have proven their importance in human experiences. Faith plays a significant role in science as well as in religion, and reason is needed just as much in religion as it is in science.
3. Science and logic can never conclusively prove the fundamental principles of faith, which include the reality of a living God, the divine nature of our Savior Jesus Christ, and our own immortal existence.
4. Thanks to science we live in an astonishingly superior world than our antecedents. Science and religion can both endure as abundant sources of life.
5. Although science and religion principally function in distinct areas of life, they are not mutually exclusive but go hand-in-hand toward a common goal—the search for truth.
6. On-going revelation permits religion to continually assist and benefit contemporary humanity. It supplies the answers and assurances we seek.
7. Obedience to eternal, unchangeable law, whether scientific or spiritual, leads to true freedom and happiness.
There is plenty of “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) and there is plenty of hope for a better world.
(From the Preface to The Demise of Darwinism.)