An Analysis of Scientific Truth (HTML)
Biblical Perspectives Magazine, Volume 23, Number 41, October 3 to October 9, 2021

An Analysis of Scientific Truth

By Billy C. Sichone

Central Africa Baptist University

Introduction

Science has taken the centre stage in the last century. A lot of amazing and mind blowing discoveries, feats and advancements have been achieved in the said period. Without question, many have been the benefits to humanity as a whole, for which we are grateful. As new frontiers of knowledge and exploration have expanded, it is increasingly becoming difficult for Bible believers to espouse or effectively defend the Bible. Many are not confident any more with traditional dogmas and dare not stand in public support of the Bible because they are no longer sure of the reliability of the Bible (Geisler 2008, Craig 2008; Morris 1990). But this ought not to be because true and authentic Science is a collection of cumulative knowledge which has been carefully investigated and collated over time. It often has to do with existing phenomena in nature under investigation to yield answers. It is further argued that theories/hypothesis must be falsifiable to stand the test of time or to be deemed scientific. While we may not entirely agree with all these assertions on all points, we think points raised are important worth considering or exploring. These are views posited by that great 20th Century Scientist, Karl Popper (2019 p 3), years ago. Kuhn (1996), weighs in, adding his voice on the nature of Science as well. He (i.e. Khun; p 7) argues that theories may change over time as clearer information becomes available. Some of the claims that pass for Scientific facts are not in fact true nor can they be classified as Science.

In this paper, we explore, examine and determine what actual Science is or is not.

Categories of Truth in Science

Science has to do with and objective collection, observation and analysis of phenomenon in the real world with a view to have a correct understanding of the universe (Khun 1996 p 25-27). Science uses tools of analysis and hinges on repeated experimentation or observation so as to have a cumulative collection of information1. Science is made up of two branches namely exact or non exact sciences. Exact Sciences include Pure Natural Sciences like Chemistry, Physics, or Mathematics2 and Biology. These are very precise and exact in their nature, although variations exist as to their degree of exactness (Johnson 2004). Non-exact Sciences include the Social Sciences (i.e. Sociology, Political Science, Psychology etc.) and Humanities related areas. These Sciences are not very precise but depend on what one observes or documents. Some level of subjectivity comes into play in this branch of Science (Creswell 2013).

Science in and of itself is good and progressive but many people have abused it and made it appear at variance with the Bible. This is not necessarily so (Johnson 2004).

The Branches of Science

In this discourse, "Science" has specific reference to the world of knowledge accumulated over a period of time as a result of objective investigation. The foundation of all Science is Logic and Mathematics (Johnson 2004). All Sciences are derived from normative Sciences. Below, we make a brief description of each of these Sciences:

a. Normative sciences: Logic and Mathematics form the foundation for any Science. It sets the norms and standards for which you can we can objectively be used as a standard to accept or deny findings as true or false.

b. Physical Sciences: This refers to Sciences like Physics and Chemistry. Mathematics can be applied to them to test their accuracy. These experimental enquiries are repeatable and can be tested. If anything cannot be repeated, then it does not fall in this category. Physical Sciences are all around us. We see and experience them every day.

c. Biological Sciences: This branch of Science deals with the study of organisms such as plants, animals and human beings. This Science explores the complex nature of the bodies, their make up as well as what makes them function the way they do. This Science is, however, less exact than the Physical Sciences.

d. Historical Sciences: This Science includes disciplines like archaeology which seeks to excavate the past with a view to reconstruct ancient history. This procedure is none repeatable but deals with actual things that happened and thus tell the story. Once meticulously examined, the artefacts exude a lot of information from the past to help inform us about what could have been.

e. Sociological Sciences: This category of Science focuses on human behaviour collectively and individually as well as human response/relationship to the environment. It studies, behaviours, reactions, responses, psychology and probably motivations behind certain pattern of action. This is by no means an exact Science in the sense of the word because conclusion may vary from context to context, even occasionally misleading investigators. Given that human perceptions, cultures or attitudes are consistently in flux, the response today may be different from, say, 50 years ago. The reason is simple, world views and grids change in time, although theologically speaking, human nature is essentially the same, fallen in Adam.

Relationship between Different Sciences

Ultimately, all the branches of Science above are interconnected and influence one another. Many times, they overlap and scarcely separate-able with the human eye. Science is not one collective whole but made up of many branches which may not all agree nor measured/verified in the same way. The Normative Sciences are the most independent while the Social Sciences are the most dependent on other branches of science (Johnson 2004).

The Bible and Science

Science and the Bible are not at variance as many faith enemies allege (Morris 1990). Assertions fall into facts or theories. Facts are composed of indisputable evidence such as that found in the exact Sciences. Those that cannot fully be proved or have insufficient evidence are classified as theories. In any discussion, the apologist must ensure they deal with facts and established Laws of Science rather than theories which do not have definite proof. Many attackers of the Bible use theories to pelt the Holy Scriptures rather than facts.

Model making in Science

Models are used to simulate reality. Some things are too hard and complex to imagine or study. A model is a miniature picture of what a real thing may be (Johnson 2004). They are not the actual itself but approximate to. Thus, as the model and real thing are studied, the model is amended to reflect the reality. Thus models have an important place in legitimate Scientific study. Models are of two types: The quantitative and qualitative. We briefly describe each below:

Quantitative model: Are based on quantitative aspects such as numbers /mathematical and can be verified. They are often used in the exact Sciences such as Physics or Chemistry etc.

Qualitative model: Are descriptive in nature and are usually used in archaeology where they construct what could have been from available information.

Value and limits of Models

Models have immense value but also have limitations. They are helpful in creating a would-be scenario so that proper investigations and theories can be examined. The sheer size and complexity of objects in the real world is made easier when studied through a model. The limitation of the model is that it may not be fully accurate and in some cases entirely false. At other times, more than one model may be put forward making it difficult to figure out which one is the authentic or correct one. Models are only a possible representation of the actual not the reality itself. It therefore means they cannot substitute the truth (Johnson 2004).

Two models of origins of the universe exist: The creation and evolution models. None of these have effectively been proved empirically (nor can be) but two parameters are used to determine the most probable model to rely on:

a. One explains the maximum number of real life related phenomenon and

b. Maximum number of predication of phenomenon related to life but as yet not observed.

Happily, the creation model scores higher. In the not too distant future, the Big Bang theory may be discarded by Scientists as illogical and far from the truth. That said, models have a special place in Scientific study and must be used accordingly, helping to falsify or discard some in the light of newer more authentic forth coming evidence as Khun (1996) has well posited.

Historical Studies

Approaches to respective studies differs from each other. Historical study is different from material study and therefore, the approaches naturally vary (Johnson 2004). Material Sciences investigations are repeatable while Historical Sciences cannot be.

The study of the origins is a Historical Science which cannot be repeated. However, many students are made to believe that origins study is a Material Science when it actually is a Historical study! Does it surprise anyone when false conclusions are drawn? There appears a sustained but subtle schemed propaganda to subvert creationism, for instance.

Thus when engaged in a debate, the distinctions should be made very clear and tenaciously upheld. Without this distinction, endless inconclusive debates ensue. Many are genuinely ignorant and confused about this fact.

Conclusion

In the light of the categories and nature of Science, it follows that the two are never at variance. They are complementary. While one explores God's special revelation, the other explores God's natural revelation hidden in God's wonderful world. The Christian needs not be deterred or afraid to assert and establish the Christian faith, given the categories and how to proceed in investigating.

Bibliography

Dockery S.D. & Thornbury A.G. (2002). Shaping a Christian World view: The foundations of Christian Higher Education, Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Geisler N.L. (2008). Christian Apologetics, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Kuhn T.S. (1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 3e, The University of Chicago Press.

Morris H.M. (1990). Many Infallible Proofs, Master Books.

Oliphint S.K & Edgar W. (2011). Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A primary Source Reader, Illinois: Crossway.

Philip C Johnson, Calvin Research Group, 2004

Popper K. (2019). The Philosophy of Science, Internet Encyclopaedia of Science. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299919432_Karl_Popper_Philosophy_of_Science, downloaded on 23rd August, 2021.

Young E.J. (1980). Thy Word is Truth, The Banner of Truth Trust.

Notes:

  1. This may be further described as The Scientific Method with steps and particular processes.
  2. Although some may categorize Mathematics in another group.
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