The reasons are obvious why the power of reason and science alone are not candidates for telling us what is absolute truth and why they are fallible guides for life. But those reasons are not often mentioned. Let’s ponder some of them for clarity’s sake. Let’s teach ourselves and our children.
Science is always a work in progress, so it never knows the “absolute truth”
This means the nature of science is to keep discovering more and more. And that often results in needing to change its conclusions when its conclusions or theories prove incorrect or inadequate. Hopefully, science and the use of reason will always advance our knowledge. Hopefully, also, its assumptions or theories will not be accepted by people as absolute truth until they cease to be assumptions or mere theories and have achieved the status of facts beyond a reasonable doubt. However, this is no black eye for science. It simply means science by nature cannot finally say this is “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” as the courtroom dictum requires. It keeps discovering more. To quote the famous two-century-old dictum (of, yes, a scientist) “Science proceeds one funeral after another” — the first thing we can’t forget.
Scientists themselves are fallible, so none can possess “absolute truth”
Like all of us, even though they are on a constant quest to discover more truth, scientists are fallible. Humans will always be fallible. “We know in part;” the “whole” escapes us. But please don’t mistake me. Being fallible is not the same as being a failure. Science cannot be declared a failure. It is for science to acknowledge and correct its errors just like all of us need to be ready and willing to do. Mostly, it does. The glory of science and the reasoning of our minds are to continue to be tools, constantly learning things yet unknown. That’s a far cry from being perfect, though. Do we all understand that? Or at times, perhaps, are we guilty of forgetting it?
Science can only deal with matter and energy
The physical world (matter and energy) is the only thing science has to work with. Matter is, by definition, everything that is affected by gravity. Many things — like the non-material functions of the human spirit, consciousness, mind, intuition, and all that belongs to the undetected realm of non-matter that we call spirit (including God) — lie outside of gravity’s direct influence. Therefore, they are not by nature restricted to matter. Rather, they are non-matter, interacting with matter in ways we cannot as yet fully understand and can only sense in our experiences. Consciousness and mind can best be understood as interacting with material functions but not fully defined by them. A theory of scientific materialism cannot claim to know the things of non-matter because it excludes their possibility.
Science has defined its own boundaries
Science established its own boundaries: matter, energy, space, and time. It “declares” that nothing exists but matter and energy in the universe. But it can’t “prove” that nothing but matter exists — unless it can prove it knows everything about the universe and the existence or nonexistence of anything beyond matter. It admits it doesn’t know all this (an example of crooked thinking).
No one can prove or disprove what they don’t know. When, at times, some scientists declare that nonmaterial things do not exist, it is because these things lie secure in their own reality outside the limits of scientific discovery. These things are a reality we humans experience daily, being self-conscious and mindful even of our own minds and that our thoughts are somehow beyond the confines of matter. The philosophy of science is to blame for science’s limitations because it has arbitrarily restricted its field of reality to all things pertaining to matter alone and its functions. Science, like all of us, must tread carefully if it is going to claim infallible predictions of what is yet unknown or what lies beyond matter and cannot be scientifically proved as being there or not there. In this sense, we have pointed out that science is self-limiting. Note: it is for this reason that science can’t declare that God (or the human spirit) exists or does not exist.
Science makes mistakes
Science can, of course, make mistakes when it hypothesizes and forms conclusions based on less than solid assumptions/facts. Complete truth in science, as in all things, requires knowing everything. Science can’t know everything. And all humans cannot. Therefore, it cannot let the perception persist that science is, for many, the infallible source of truth in any age. Can we wisely accept science and its many discoveries with finality? Not if omniscience has anything to do with the claim.
So who can we rely on for the “absolute truth?”
Who do we trust? Who can we rely on for the truth — the whole truth — about our world? That’s the giant question, the answer to which affects all of us in the trials and struggles of daily living — the psychology of life.
Do you want your child to grow up thinking that life has no meaning beyond being mechanical robots of some sort? They will soon let you know they think more of themselves than that. So, help your child to be sincerely thankful for the efforts of science. However, help them avoid allowing anyone to dupe them with beliefs that when logically followed lead to no reason to live — suicide, which so many children now contemplate. Teach them, because who values them more than you?
Next: we will seek to understand the rise of this thinking that leads humans to believe they have no reason to think they are no more than the minerals and elements of rock and soil. That belief is called scientific materialism. We’ll address that topic in two weeks as I’ll take a brief break next week. See you again soon!
In my new book Who Am I?, I describe how we have become “crooked thinkers” and how to break out of this prison of the mind to become instruments of change for a better world by recognizing the source of our value as humans. You can get your copy HERE. (Psst! Subscribers to my weekly updates can receive a 15% discount and free shipping from the above link!)
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