The faith in science, the science of faith

The pages are full of words about the relationship between Science and Religion. And all that is good. Humanity has yet to reconcile the two, and many take the view that one or the other is the greater truth. However, in that discourse, even in discord, the exploration for deeper understanding elevates humanity.

The apparent lack of miracles

Let us take as truth the statement that few or no clear miracles have occurred in the last few centuries, basically since the dawn of the scientific age. Many may disagree, even vehemently, but let us accept that assertion.

What would be a clear miracle? Anything that the four major gospels indicate Christ performed, that is, a directed and observable transformation outside of any known and amazing scientific explanation in that transformation. We will add that a present miracle needs to be verified by a series of non-religious authorities and observed by many.

As has already been said, let us not accept that such a miracle has occurred in the last few centuries.

Would that establish anything? I would say no. The lack of miracles would shed little or no light on the questions of the existence of the supernatural and the relationship between Science and Religion.

In the great series of the Foundation, Issac Asimov postulates that a great mathematician Hari Seldon develops a technique, psychohistory, that can predict the future of the Galactic Empire. Seldon predicts a dark age of thirty millennia, and sets in motion a plan to shorten it to one thousand years. The plan will go through stages, during which different cultural forces, whether technology, commerce or worship, will take precedence. The flow of these cycles creates a sweep of history that will shorten the impediments of the dark ages.

The religious salvation of the hand of a God could easily pass through stages. Just as Seldon’s psychohistory went through stages, religious salvation might require a sequential sweep of stages. We could be in a stage without miracles since a secular development of science can serve as a key stage in the salvation process.

You may find this hypothesis astounding, even absurd. You may say that there is no sweep of salvation history. But you cannot base that objection on the “apparent” present non-miracle era. Any lack of miracles in the modern age does not refute the existence of miracles in other times, nor does it refute the existence of a God, nor does it refute the existence of a vast salvation history.

Miracles, God and a vast history of salvation could exist even if the present age lacks miracles.

The Efficiency of Science

Science is one of humanity’s most objective activities. Many have written about how cultural and organizational imperatives distort and corrupt science. However, science requires objective observational evidence, and in the end, observation has banished threads of theories that are incorrect.

Moreover, at all times science has overcome the apparent limitations of the observable. Observations are becoming expensive, for example, the Large Haldron Collider, or the James Webb Space Telescope, but I would not be surprised if Science developed methods for observing events before the Big Bang, or that occur in other multi-viruses.

However, there is uncertainty. Despite all of Science’s past and present successes, it remains a hypothesis, not a fact, that the explanatory scope of Science can be expanded forever. From past and present successes we extrapolate that science can continue to solve problems, but we do not know for sure.

Some might say that we have faith in science.

You might object. Certainly, the trajectory of scientific explanation is proof of its future effectiveness. But we have been in Science for a relatively short period, in historical terms, four centuries, perhaps five. And just as the apparent lack of miracles for five centuries does not, in my opinion, provide any firm basis for declaring Religion irrelevant, the success of Science for five centuries does not provide any proof, only a faith, that Science can expand its reach forever.

Am I saying that science will reach a limit? What I am saying is that while I, like us, seek understanding and truth, I will not rule out, and collectively we cannot rule out, that Science can reach a limit.

The Science of Religion

Religion seeks to give a vision of what is beyond, beyond our physical senses and beyond our understanding. Religion provides enlightenment about our afterlife, and our origins, and our purpose, and our destiny.

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