True and False Science -- By: Austin Robbins
BSP 11:4 (Fall 1998) p. 97
True and False Science
“Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge which some have professed and in so, doing have wandered from the faith.” (1 Tm 6:20–21, NIV)
The world today has a reverence for science that almost borders on worship. Scientific investigations have resulted in many benefits in our daily lives. Not only do we enjoy the labor-saving devices which applied science has provided, but most of us, in some measure, owe our health to scientific advances in medicine and related fields. Many of us, myself included, would probably not be alive today were it not for the medications and treatments that have been developed in the last 50 years. Most folks are aware of these facts and, as a result, have a great respect for science. But few really understand what science is, and fewer stop to consider that science has its limits.
The word science simply means knowledge. In the last century, for example, theology—the study of God—was termed, “the queen of sciences.” Today the meaning of the word has been so changed that no one would consider theology to be one of the various disciplines of science. Webster’s New World Dictionary gives the primary definition of science as “the state or fact of knowing.” The word derives from the Latin word scientia which came from the word sciens “to know.” The base of that word was “to cut” “to separate” and thus “to distinguish between.”
Today we regard science as a particular sort of knowledge. In popular opinion it is the acquisition of knowledge about material things, the physical world, the astronomical bodies, chemistry, biology and the like. It has come to mean almost exclusively the study and knowledge of physical processes. In its three other definitions the dictionary defines science as knowledge relating to the natural and physical world.
Even in the more restricted definition of today, science is knowledge. It is in the process of obtaining that knowledge that science becomes science and acquires its special authority. We speak of the “laws” of science as though they were some immutable, inexorable, unfailing forces of nature. But science did not establish those laws. The law of gravity, for instance, operated long before anyone even thought of what gravity is. Science merely seeks to understand and define the processes we see in action all around us. It is in the methods used to gain such understanding that science attains its greatest stature. The scientific method is the tool by which man can obtain knowledge with confidence that the knowledge so obtained is valid.
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