I’m not a scientist.  My science classes in college were geology, meteorology, and food science.  The best I did in high school was a B in honors physics at a public school.  And even that grade should be investigated.

So allow my non-scientific mind to think through something with you.

Often in debates about evolution and creation, I hear people argue for evolution (that is, the origin of the universe via big-bang) by saying, “Science proves it.  Science is not faith, it’s fact.”   They do this by talking about carbon dating, fossils, and the fact that Noah couldn’t really have had all those animals in the ark.

Well, science is “fact” if you are talking about how a tree grows, how a car moves, or how my heart works.  You can prove those things.  But science cannot prove the origin of the universe.  “Yes it can!” people tell me.

No.  It can’t.

Why?  When we refer to science, we usually mean “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.”  We come to this knowledge of the physical world by using the scientific method, which Merriam-Webster defines as “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

You cannot re-create a universe as vast, complex, organized, and beautiful as ours in a test tube in order to collect data about how it began.  It just can’t happen.

So if you hold that the origin of the universe is due to a randomized explosion of atomic particles, that’s fine by me.  Just don’t call it science.  Call it what it is: faith, belief, and religion.

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15 thoughts on “You Can’t Make Science to Mean Something it Doesn’t Mean

  1. Excellent points. I was just trying to communicate that on Facebook to someone who was trotting out the religion vs. science false dichotomy. I took it in this direction after a guy said that science would never prove the Trinity:

    Science will never prove the Trinity or the resurrection, because science is designed to test material things, not immaterial things. That isn’t a knock against science. I think science is awesome. But it is like asking, “How much does the color blue weigh?” Colors don’t have weight, so you don’t measure them with scales. In the same way, the fact that you don’t evaluate spriitual claims with science isn’t a liability against religion.

    I like to focus on the resurrection of Jesus and how I find it to be the best explanation for a set of historical facts — http://tinyurl.com/ykzpu42 . And I do mean facts — these are things that virtually all historians, whether atheists or believers, will agree upon, based on evidence inside AND outside the Bible. An abbreviated version: … Read More

    • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
    • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
    • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucificion church leader.
    • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others.
    • 75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

    When even atheist historians agree on those items I think it provides a strong foundation to build upon. The alternative theories (Jesus just passed out on the cross and later convinced the disciplies He was resurrected, the disciplines had similar hallucinations in various places and at various times, etc. don’t fit the facts as well as the resurrection does).

    I submit that the physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

  2. @Moresec0de: I’m not giving my own definition of that word here. I’m talking about people having a debate about evolution and creation and how other people (namely, atheists) I know define it in their own terms. They define in the way they argue: When someone debates and says, “I believe in evolution, not creation,” they are contrasting creation (one idea for the origin of the universe) with evolution (their idea of the origin of the universe). You know this happens.

    This person certainly believes the universe originated via a randomized explosion of atomic particles (because they don’t believe in a Creator, and thus have to come up with something). In fact, I’ve never met someone who hasn’t believed this (i.e. big bang) if they say, “I believe in evolution, not creation.” They are not concerned with evolution of the species. They are trying to convince me that God didn’t create the world.

  3. When someone debates and says, “I believe in evolution, not creation,” they are contrasting creation (one idea for the origin of the universe) with evolution (their idea of the origin of the universe). You know this happens.

    I know I’ve never seen this. Cosmological origins have nothing to do with speciation (evolution). It’s a separate field altogether. If they have conflated the two, they are wrong.

    And the Big Bang was not an explosion. It was the expansion of space-time for which we have mounds of physical evidence for (e.g., the cosmic background radiation was a prediction of the Big Bang model). We can also produce conditions which existed very shortly after the event using particle colliders and test our hypotheses about the early universe. So, in essence, we can recreate the origin of the universe. Regardless of your protestations, science has quite a lot to say about these things.

    Personally, I don’t care whether you do or do not believe that some god created the universe. Just don’t try to tell people that there is no science in this because -whether born of ignorance about science or not – it is a lie.

  4. You are telling me that you’ve never heard another atheist say, “I believe in evolution, not creation”? I find that impossible to believe. Let me say again, that in making a statement like that, they are pitting two possibilities for the origin of the universe against each other.

    They are wrong in saying this. Maybe you should inform your atheist cohorts how to argue about the origin of the universe.

    Oh wait, origin of the universe? That’s right. They can’t.

    1. No matter how many atheists you can line up who would say, “I believe in evolution, not creation”, they’re still apples and oranges. No one should be comparing theories on the origin of the universe to the theory of evolution. Period. Evolution is scientific fact, but the theory simply does not address origins at all, so criticism on that subject is completely irrelevant. It would be sort of like my saying, “I have a proven theory on why the sky is blue”, and someone else saying, “oh yeah? Then why are leaves green? Guess your theory’s not so solid after all, is it.” I think the title of Darwin’s book contributes heavily to this misperception. “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” does not refer to the origin of life, it refers to, just like it says, the origin of species – why, given that there is life, that life differentiates, adapts, and changes because of the higher survival rate (and thus reproduction rate) of living things with advantageous characteristics. The existence of life is an a priori condition of evolution, not something it seeks to explain.

  5. And you might be able to create “conditions” to observe, but you are not creating a universe with vast complexities that make your small, finite mind seem like a spec of dust that appears for a moment and is gone the next. You are not creating a universe that is so large the ends of it will never be discovered. You are not creating a universe with people who touch, taste, smell, hear, hurt, cry, laugh, think, know, feel, and do a billion other things.

    You cannot do that in a test tube. Never.

    And if you think you can, then you have officially called yourself “God.”

  6. I agree with a previous commentor that you have a unique mind. I enjoy reading most of your posts and always find them stimulating.

    I find it somewhat humorous this “arguement” about science vs God or creation vs evolution and etc.

    Hebrews 11:3 by stating: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible,” makes it clear that this discussion is a faith based discussion, not scientific, not evidentiary, and not even emotional.

    Unless God, by his free and sovereign grace opens the eyes of a “scientist”, or “evolutionist” they will never be convinced by facts, data, information, evidence, argumentation, reasoning, or well, anything.

    :…by faith we understand…” Let’s not forget to present the gospel and make disciples of every scientist/evolutionist creature and see if their “belief” system is changed to the truth for the glory of God!

  7. Hi Gregg,

    I agree that the Holy Spirit is required to change hearts and minds. And we don’t need emotional manipulation.

    But I think you misread Hebrews 11:3, at least a little bit. Biblical faith isn’t faith without evidence. It is trust in evidence.

    Please consider the 13 presentations of the Gospel in the book of Acts. There are no mentions of blind faith, just example after example of using facts and reason (and the occasional miracle) to persuade.

    Or consider John 20:30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ”

    Peace,
    Neil

  8. thanks Neil for keeping me sharp since iron does sharpen iron. I do understand your point and I should have been more clear that I do not advocate blind faith. Faith is in a very real person and in facts about that person. I still do not advocate getting the cart before the horse. Even if you are going to present evidence for faith to rest on – you still need God to open the spiritual eyes first, then secondarily evidence can be presented for other things such as creationism, etc. Giving evidence of creation to a person lying in a coffin will not enable that person to respond to your evidence or see it more clearly. Same thing with a walking dead man – that dead man, imprisoned in darkness, will not see evidence and then develop faith. God must first regenerate that individual by giving them life enabling them to respond to the things of God.

    So, you are right – blind faith is not the answer for anything. Just don’t forget faith is a gift of God (Eph 2) and God must give that faith through his unfettered, unrestrined, free and sovereign choice.

  9. By the way, faith is not trust in evidence. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (not visible or physical evidence) the conviction of things not seen. Faith is in a person – Jesus Christ. God given faith in Christ enabled me to trust Christ in all things including His claim to have been the agent of creation. So, I am not placing faith in evidence of things I can’t see but in Christ who can not nor would not lie, therefore my faith rests in the fact that this same Christ as the agent of His father (John 1) created this universe and all that is in it.

  10. Hi Gregg,

    Thanks for the clarification. It is all about Eph. 2 type of faith that comes from God. You are right — faith is trust in Jesus. Instead of saying faith is trust in evidence I should have said it was trust in Jesus, but we base that on evidence. As Paul notes in 1 Cor 15 the physical resurrection of Jesus is foundational.

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