Now let’s consider a simple definition of “science”:
Science: Knowledge about the natural world and universe derived from experiments, observation, and reason.
Again, like the word “faith,” there are many other possible uses of the word “science” which this definition doesn’t address well. But, for the discussion in this book, that definition is what I mean when I use the word “science.”
By this definition, “science” deals with the “natural world and universe” not the spiritual realm. To the extent that something is part of the “spiritual realm,” to that extent it is beyond the realm of science, which deals only with the “natural world and universe.”
Note that “science” deals with knowledge derived from “experiments, observation, and reason.” One might clarify this by adding that science is based on experiments and observations that can be repeated with consistent results. If experimental results and observations can’t be repeated consistently, then the results are not normally accepted as legitimate science.
However, there seems to be a great deal of “knowledge” which many people accept as “scientific” knowledge, but which is not derived from repeatable observations or experiments. For example, some people claim that life on earth began with what is called “spontaneous generation.” That is the concept that the first living cell (or cells) just randomly happened through time and chance, with nothing supernatural involved. Is such a belief a matter of science or faith? Based on the definitions of faith and science we are working with in this book, such a belief seems to me to be more in the realm of faith than science. I have never heard of anyone observing such a thing to happen, not even indirectly. I am not aware of any experiment that has been able to repeat such an occurrence. So, believing in “spontaneous generation” seems to me to be a matter of faith, not science.
For another example, consider the origin of the human race. Some people think that “science” shows we evolved from apes and lesser animals over millions of years. Has anyone ever directly observed anything like that happen? Not that I am aware of. Are there any repeatable experiments that support this belief? Again, I am not aware of any such experiments. Yes, I am aware that some scientists claim certain fossils support such theories. I myself have never seen any fossils or even any photos of fossils that clearly lead to such a conclusion. If I were to believe in this kind of macroevolution, it would be a matter of faith. It would be a “belief in something that has not been directly observed.”
Note that I am NOT claiming here that such beliefs are incorrect (though I indeed may lean toward that perspective); I am merely pointing out here that such beliefs are more matters of faith than science for most people. Some people may have direct knowledge about such things, and for them their own knowledge could be said to be based on science, not faith. For most people who believe such things, it seems to me that their beliefs are more matters of faith than science.
For Further Reflection:
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