Friday, September 20, 2013

Do faith and the scientific method conflict or converge?



I just read "Faith and the Scientific Method" by Terry B. Ball.  

Then I read Alma 32 from the Book of Mormon. 


Some scientists lose their faith because they believe the scientific method is supreme and the only way to seek answers to all of life’s questions. That conclusions based on faith are unscientific. A German physicist Wilhelm Westphal said, 

“If there is a God, then I am very sorry to say that he has never revealed himself to me. He could have done this, in fact he should have. But he didn't. 

Therefore I became an atheist.”  



On the contrary, I believe the scientific method can enhance faith, and faith can enhance the scientific method. While the scientific method is a reliable and efficient research tool, it’s not unchallengeable, nor the only way to find truth. We need another resource for truth to answer questions like “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here on earth?” or “Where am I going after this life?” 




Paul’s definition of faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). So although a person hasn’t seen God, the witness of the Holy Ghost can give spiritual evidence enough to develop faith that God exists. Another witness can be the perfectness and complexity of God’s creations (see Alma 30: 44). 

This is similar to the way scientists can't see electrons, but they have evidence of their travel through a bubble tube. And before Neptune could be seen through a telescope, there was evidence of its existence through its gravitational influence on Uranus. 

Here’s an interesting look at how the scientific method coincides with Alma’s seed-faith analogy in a remarkable way (see Alma 32).  Keep in mind Paul’s principle of faith that by observing evidence a person can have confidence in something not seen. 


How do the Steps of the Scientific Method Coincide with Alma’s Planting a Seed Analogy? 


1. Observe and ask a Question 

Is God real? 

2. Form a Hypothesis 

I think God is real but I’m not sure. 

3. Experiment

Experiment upon God’s word by planting it in your heart (see Alma 32:28). So you start reading God’s word consistently and watch what happens to you inside. 




4. Analyze the Data

If it’s a good, true seed (if it’s really God’s word) and if you don’t cast it out by unbelief or resisting the Spirit, then “it will begin to swell within your breasts” (Alma 32:28). So analyzing your data means you’ll notice positive growth. 




5. Draw a Conclusion 

After analyzing the data, a person will come to the conclusion that it must be a good seed “or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul, ... enlighten my understanding, ... beginneth to be delicious to me” (Alma 32:28). This enlarging and enlightening are spiritual data. This helps a person conclude that what they’re reading is true and God is real because He is the author of it. 




Of course spiritual data can’t be quantified and gathered through the five senses like physical data can.  Observing spiritual data requires developing spiritual senses. This happens differently for different people.  

I love when I see the combination of gospel and secular knowledge come together in such a cool way. 

Our Creator is brilliant. 



No comments: