The Faith of Science

The relentless attitude of the modern sceptical mind is based on an unexamined faith which lies at the root of their scepticism. After the great success of the scientific method in uncovering the mechanisms of the natural world and in the application of its discoveries for the development of an ever-increasing complex technology the modern mind has adopted an unquestioned confidence in regards to the scientific method of acquiring knowledge. Bluntly speaking, we have adopted a new faith that can be put forward as this: The only true facts about the world are those that we can observe (i.e. experiment). This statement does not imply that all facts of our knowledge are derived through observation and analysis. It is a premise which has not been proven, therefore it can adequately be called a faith. A faith that claims that any and all content of our knowledge can be only valid if scrutinized through the filters of the scientific method. This was forcefully impressed in our culture after the success of scientific progress since the time of Galileo and Newton. There was a natural tendency for this since people were trying to battle with the superstitious beliefs that have governed human minds for centuries upon centuries, beliefs that were adopted by mere faith and with complete disregard to the evidence afforded by the natural world. Facts about our natural world that could not be adequately supplied by the Church and its dogma were substituted by the conclusions of men and women of science. This attitude towards the natural world lead to a triumphant suppression of religious opinions in realms that do not belong to them. This turn of events has been priceless in our understanding of our world and of ourselves. But this attitude may run into a dangerous corner. The successful method of science can oppress our understanding of life and seclude us to facts that escape the scrutiny of science. Not all questions that arise in the human mind can find a solution by the means of science. Believing this is turning science into a blind faith. The existential and ontological questions of who are we, what to do with our lives, our moral behavior, of God and the like questions are assessed on evidence that is not available to the categories or branches of science. When dealing with the whole panorama of problems we face as human beings we can adopt a more mature position when looking for the elusive answers. Blind are those that make themselves believe that all the answers are found in the workings of science or the precepts of a religion. Our age requires a more mature consideration of the problems of existence and will need nothing but sincerity when dealing with these matters. The facts of science must be taken as symbolic representations of the processes we find in the world and religious symbolism is equally a representation of truths, but of those that are unable to be expressed in language. Religious symbolism is only a means to convey truths that cannot be grasped by the analytical mind. Charles H. Long in his book Alpha dealing with the early myths of creation makes a just assessment in the value of both outlooks, those of science and (religious) myth. “… the problem of dealing with the fundamental relatedness of the mythic and the scientific. One mode cannot replace the other; the generalizing method of scientific thought cannot do justice to the life of man as he experiences it, and the mythic mode of apprehension cannot remain so specific and concrete that it becomes esoteric or subjective.”

I can imagine a prolonged application of this attitude in dealing with the mysterious in life will lead to a clear agnosticism in many matters. It will not dismiss the myths of religion as false but as intangible expressions of the human experience; and so with science, it will regard its achievements as a representational and abstract model of reality which is, as practical and useful as it is, only an approximation.

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