Is Truth to Be Found in Science?

by J. D. Watson

In light of Ephesians 1:13: "In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation," where is Truth to be found in our day? Last month we considered the first of three principles that carry tremendous significance in our day, the Meaning of Truth. The second principle is:

Inadequate Sources of Truth

Of all the claims to be sources of Truth, three stand out: science, philosophy, and religion.

By far the greatest claim to being a source of truth in our day is made by science. Scientist Karl Pearson, for example, made this obvious when he wrote in his famous book, Grammar of Science: "The scientific method is the sole gateway to the whole region of knowledge."

But let's take an honest look: Is science really a source of Truth? Is it always reliable, constant, sure, and unchanging? In the Middle Ages, for example, accepted scientific theory concluded that the earth was at the center of the universe and everything revolved around it. It was also believed that gravity was some kind of occult force. But before we call those people ignorant and backward, recall that even today we can't adequately explain gravity.

In more recent years, it was once accepted fact that light travels in a straight line. But then it was discovered that gravity actually bends light.

When the atom was discovered, science asserted that the atom was the smallest indivisible particle of which matter was comprised. That's why scientists named it "atom," which is from the Greek atomos, meaning, "that which cannot be divided." But then, not only did science later discover that the atom can be split (and with incredible results), but it also discovered many smaller subatomic particles-electrons, neutrons, protons, photons, and quarks.

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, scientists around the world were satisfied that they had reached an accurate picture of the universe. As physicist Alastair Rae put it, "By the end of the nineteenth century, it seemed that the basic fundamental principles governing the behavior of the physical universe were known." Most, in fact, said that the study of physics was mostly completed, except for small details. A few oddities occurred, such as the discovery of X-rays (1895), but most scientists believed such oddities would be later explained by existing theory.

But as the new century dawned, the world was set on its ear. Accepted scientific evidence declared it impossible to fly a plane under it's own power-until Orville and Wilbur Wright did it at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. Many other things were once said to be impossible, based on prevailing scientific theory: breaking the sound barrier, television, satellite communications, atomic power, atomic microscopes, antibiotics, and much more. But in every case, science was untrue, unreliable, and unsure. Therefore, science never has been and never will be able to discover Truth.

It's interesting that some honest scientists recognize that science does not discover Truth. Albert Einstein, for example, once remarked concerning how nature works: "We know nothing about it at all. Our knowledge is but the knowledge of school children.... We shall know a little more than we do now. But the real nature of things-that we shall never know, never." Einstein was honest enough to admit that science could not discover "the real nature of things," which is what the word Truth means.

British philosopher of science Karl Popper wrote even more pointedly: "All scientific statements are hypothesis, or guesses, or conjectures, and the vast majority of these conjectures...have turned out to be false. Our attempts to see and to find the Truth are not final, but open to improvement...our knowledge, our doctrine, is conjectural;...it consists of guesses, of hypotheses, rather than of final and certain Truths."

So is science of any value? Certainly. It is very useful. Thousands of inventions have been made that make life easier. Chemistry, medicine, mechanics, and physics all contribute to making life more comfortable and more productive. But science does not and cannot provide Truth because it changes. Something else that is sure and reliable is needed.

To be continued

The complete study ("The Truth About the Truth") on which these installments are based, is available online at www.TheScriptureAlone.com. A 36-page booklet is also available free of charge (Sola Scriptura Ministries; PO Box 235; Meeker, CO; 81641). The booklet includes the plan of salvation and can be used as a witnessing tool ($1.00 per copy in any quantity).

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