Science and Faith
By Stephen Terry
The Scientific Method by definition is a closed system. It is limited to observable and measurable data. I have only to think back to the period before electron microscopy to realize the limitations imposed by our ability to observe and measure. The boundaries of knowledge have expanded so much in my lifetime. We have gone from 78 RPM records to MP3 files. We can pull data into our homes from all over the earth and even other planets. Remember when we could all view pictures on our home computers that were being transmitted from a little robot on Mars? Yet, as much as knowledge has expanded, so much more is still unknown. Is there a certain pretentiousness to claim knowledge of "truth" under such limitations? If anything, the Scientific Method should bring about humility in the researcher in the face of the unknowable. Should that which lies outside observation be consigned to faith? Perhaps science should allow this.
Harmony is not uniformity. Harmony is a blending of different perspectives in a manner that informs and enhances each. If we look at a sheet of music, and then decide to change every note in the composition to be exactly like the first, we would have accomplished absolute unity through uniformity, but would we have harmony? No. Harmony can only exist with diversity. Can there be harmony between faith and science?
The human genome as well as that of several other species has been mapped. Genealogical evidence is mounting by the day regarding genetic history. Where this knowledge might take us is both exciting and more than a little scary. We discovered long ago that cholera was caused by impure drinking water and not by "foul miasmas." We also have discovered how to turn organisms which cause disease into deadly biological weapons. Can humanity afford for science not to be informed by faith? Science should not be allowed to proceed in a moral vacuum. This is too dangerous for all of us.
The frontiers of understanding are rapidly expanding. The faith community would do well to accept this as inevitable. Faith should never be on the side of opposition to demonstrable fact. Rather faith should inform morality and provide science with an ethical “soul.” Although knowledge can provide the ability to do new things, someone should be asking “Should we?” Ethics left to science may be no ethics at all.
Ethics is not the only role for faith. Some things will always lie beyond the boundaries of science. Yet, these unknowns seem to work in spite of their inexplicability. With an understanding that truth is that which works and what works is not always measurable, science and faith can find common ground. The expanding boundaries of knowledge can never reach infinity and those in the scientific community might be humble enough to allow to faith those things which lie outside their ability to measure.