Earlier this year I can across an excellent article by the late philosopher, Karl Popper, The Problem of Induction. Induction is a topic that continues to plague science, even if few seem to care. After all, what difference does philosophy make? Science works and you know what they say if it ain’t broke. Well, Popper wasn’t so naive and his insights into the epistemological limits of science are invaluable for reasons I’m sure he never anticipated and few Christians seem to grasp.
According to Wikipedia (so you know it has to be true) Popper
… held that scientific theory, and human knowledge generally, is irreducibly conjectural or hypothetical, and is generated by the creative imagination in order to solve problems that have arisen in specific historico-cultural settings. Logically, no number of positive outcomes at the level of experimental testing can confirm a scientific theory, but a single counterexample is logically decisive: it shows the theory, from which the implication is derived, to be false
. . . Popper sought to explain the apparent progress of scientific knowledge—how it is that our understanding of the universe seems to improve over time. This problem arises from his position that the truth content of our theories, even the best of them, cannot be verified by scientific testing, but can only be falsified.
Long and short: the conclusions of science are never final, always tentative. Science is useful for solving problems and making things that work, but as far as a means for discovering truth, science is a complete failure. What’s frustrating is how many Christians, even those interested in apologetics, have failed grasp the import of Popper’s observations. Doesn’t science tell us that ax heads don’t float (2 Kings 6:5-7), seas can’t part (Exodus 14:20,21), and the dead don’t come back to life (see John 11:14ff, not to mention the accounts of Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead). Doesn’t science tell us that “miracles” are a fiction; quaint and foolish fairytale for unenlightened minds? Plus, if any miracle recorded in Scripture actually occurred it must have a natural explanation, right? Hasn’t science proven once and for all that what “appears” to be a miraculous violation of a mundane natural “law” simply cannot happen? Shouldn’t we feel sorry for those ignorant flat earth bible believing fools? You can almost hear the choir singing “amen” as the army of postmodern sophisticates bow their heads in reverence to the New Age priests in white lab coats.