Regardless as to what one believes of the origins of life, everyone recognizes that humans live in an amazing petri dish. At the macro level, we are wowed by the endless expanse of the universe. At the minute detail of genetics and energy, whole new worlds of life and diversity power their way into our conscience.
The scientific method refers to the process of forming conclusions based on empirically observable data. It is a great tool, but also a limited one. The inherent problem is not so much with the method as with the scientist. Just as Galileo, Columbus, and other great explorers of life came to recognize, neither earth, humans, or even the known world, are at the center of life.
As a result, whenever analysis is restrained within the sensory boundaries of human recognition (aka: observable data), a skewed pattern is always formed. That reality doesn’t make all observations invalid, only limited.
Our physical senses are incapable of accurately measuring the full expanse of time (and so we use the unverifiable label of “billions of years”), or the purposes inherent in creation (and so we are left with the illogical conclusion that life is random and has no purposeful conclusion), or we invent our own god-type categories to try and explain the undeniable evidence for life, truth, and reality beyond our physical constraints (like the new science of metaphysics).
But geo-centric thinking is just as flawed as relying completely upon human-centric analysis. This is why legitimate Christian scientists have a distinct edge. They can use the great methods of systematic discovery offered through the scientific method, but they also allow their data and conclusions to benefit from the larger realities beyond human-centric thinking.
However, this is not easy or automatic, even for believers in a supernatural God. Believing in a divine Creator does not overpower the human tendency to view life from the primacy of our own moving platform.
At various points in history, God confronts man’s reliance upon his own limited cause-and-effect type observations.
The surviving remnant of Judea, following in the wake of the overpowering destruction of Babylon, had to make a decision. Should they flee to the safety of Egypt or try and survive in the burned ruins of Jerusalem. Prior to making a final decision, they looked for reliable input from both their own powers of observation as well as from the prophetic realm of the supernatural.
When placed side-by-side, one might think that they had access to the best volume of data, but human nature tends to prioritize the value of such information with greater reliance upon the scientific method of human sensory input and observation.
As a result, they rejected the data from the prophet Jeremiah who gave God’s words that they must stay in the land of Israel or all would perish. Their reasoning primarily relied upon observable data and went something like this:
“We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the Lord’s name…We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven…just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” (Jer 44)
From their point of observation, it made more sense to persist in idolatrous practices. The apparent results were better; the available data fit their perspective.
But they missed the larger perspective; they failed to recognize the data provided by God. In answer, God pronounces his own conclusion:
“The Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed…Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs” (v.28).
Not all data is physically measurable, not all data is humanly observable, and not all data fits within the scientific method.
In spite of this reality, many professing Christians act more like uneducated savages and freely exchange true data for lies, gold for shiny trinkets. Many prefer the doctrine of science over the word of God.
One minister recently stated that we (humans) now have access to better knowledge as a result of scientific discoveries that supersede the reliability of Scripture. In other words, the bible is outdated. Another ordained pastor, in reference to Jesus’ statement that salt can lose its saltiness, countered that “sodium chloride cannot lose its saltiness” (for which he provided no explanation as to why Jesus said the opposite). Apparently, science knows better.
And yet, the word of God continues to echo the same refrain: “Then [they] will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs.”
What methods of systematic discovery do you use?