Does Science Have All the Answers?

It is often thought that with the great progress science had made, Christianity and faith in God have been made obsolete–or even impossible. But does science have all the answers? Famously, scientists can say that their discipline answers the ‘how’, but not necessarily the ‘why’. But does it really answer the ‘how’ well enough to be confident that Christianity can be ignored?

Confidence in science to explain how things are means that observed, established and proven processes are adequate to account for the ‘answers’ we need and want. But are they really up to the job?

Try these ten ‘how’ questions and test yourself to see how well science does.

The very beginning of the beginning cannot have been caused by God, according to science, because the naturalistic method used by science rules it out. So how did this something arise? There are many discussions regarding the ‘big bang’ and how things are supposed to have happened in fractions of nano-seconds, but how does science explain this? Are processes currently in existence adequate to explain how ‘something’ exists rather than ‘nothing’?

And if today’s processes can’t say how, in what respect is science’s explanation more scientific than anything else, since it is not based on those observed, established and proven mechanisms?

That night follows day, that apples fall when you drop them and that planets orbit the sun are some of the multitude of ways in which we depend on an orderly, consistent, regular universe for our way of life. Science itself is an expression of this, and it is order and consistency that make this quest for knowledge and its application possible and worthwhile. So how do we explain this? The processes that explain question one also gave rise to a ‘something’ that is universally (literally universal as far as we know) regular. So how exactly did that happen? What do established facts tell us about the origin of the very fundamental structure of reality that makes science possible?

Life on earth? Yes. Life on other planets and anywhere else in the universe? Not established yet. So how did this come about? Let’s ignore the uniqueness of this for a moment; we are only asking ‘how’. So how does life arise spontaneously from non-living things? All the processes we have demonstrate that this does not happen. So given the very definite reality of life, how exactly has that come about?

Developments in science have shown us lots and lots of mechanisms to control the living things that exist, but how did life originate (and of course, how did those essential regulatory mechanisms manage to come with them)?

With the emergence of life on earth we have to face the observed fact that there is a great deal of it–almost everywhere. So how did this happen? It wasn’t a single life that came into existence and then endured throughout the ages; that idea seems strange, but given the fact of life, how is it that many, many lives now exist? How did reproduction come into being? We see reproduction, but how did it arise? We understand much more of its complexity than previous generations, but how did the processes that allowed us to live come into being? What scientific facts give us the answers to this remarkable reality?

Now assuming clear and objectively verifiable–scientific–answers to the previous questions, we then face a fascinating issue to do with variety and multiplicity. Life does not just exist–it thrives and expresses itself in such proliferation that it is astonishing that there is such biodiversity. Now how did this all come about? What natural processes are there that have been identified, analysed and quantified to account for such delightful richness and differentiation? There is not just one sort of animal or plant but many. There are species and sub-species and clearly a multitude of answers to the challenges of existence and survival. How exactly can all this be explained in properly scientific terms? Not just generalised theorising; what actual process have been identified that certainly do this?

The frequent explanation among scientists for the development and variety of life is adaptation. Now adaptation and its corollary, selection, both assume something prior to it as an effective process: death. The old saying ‘survival of the fittest’ may not accurately express current evolutionary theory, but the concept of ‘survival’ is essential to its fundamental concept. Without death there is no need to adapt; without death there can be no selection.

So how did death arise? Again, what mechanisms and processes can have brought about death? Science has explained many things; it claims to explain the origin of life. But how does it propose to explain the origin of death?

Death is not some small and irrelevant phenomenon, it seems to affect every living thing–both of every sort and pervasively throughout each sort. It affects us–both in our relationships and in our own existence. We all die; everything seems to die. Why? How did it become so universal? If ‘survival of the fittest’ is a driving principle, why is it such a total failure? None survive; no individual continues to exist forever. How did this situation arise and what does science have to say about its explanation?

This is one of the biggest questions of life. Does science actually have the answer?

If all living things arose from a single source, how is it that human beings have managed to be so different from all the rest? We are told that our DNA is very similar to some animals’, but if so, that simply makes the question harder.

How does science explain the dominance–and apparent capacity to destroy–that belongs so uniquely to mankind? How is this to be explained, given that so much of the observable data regarding people and other living things doesn’t identity that much which is that different?

Humanity has a unique capacity for self-destruction and for the destruction of other parts of existence. Are we a part of the system or over the system or outside the system or what? Science needs to give a very clear explanation of what role human beings have and how this has come about.

The fact of our existence is indisputable, but human beings seem to have another unique characteristic: they discuss and dispute about how exactly this life should be lived. There are billions of us, each with the capacity for loving and hating, caring and injuring, warring and supporting. What are we supposed to do with this life?

Science needs to explain–scientifically–how we came to be the ones who ask this sort of question and exactly what the answer is.

Let us suppose that to each of the previous nine questions you have given a clear, fact-based, scientifically valid and provable answer.

That leaves one more:

Having explained the origin of everything and the way in which, scientifically, you should be living your life, why should that make a scrap of difference to me?

In other words, how is it possible that one human being should be affected, let alone obliged, to act in any given way on the basis of anything that science can say?

Science may say ‘this is how it all started’; it may also say ‘this is why things are like this today’; science may also say ‘this is the most effective way to live a long and healthy life’. But why should that have any effect on me?

Can science tell me why I should be truthful? Can it tell me why I should be considerate? Faithful? Industrious? Fair? Non-discriminatory?

Science can say many things, but how is it possible to move from a description of what is to a prescription of what ought to be? In philosophy to make such a move is called the naturalistic fallacy.

And that is the problem. Science cannot have all the answers. It cannot take the place of considered thought about the nature of life and being because it does not have the tools to do this.

Even if science, keeping properly to its own methodology, could answer many of the ‘how’s above, it cannot explain how to live, or why what might be acceptable to one person should also be acceptable to another.

Science is supposed to deal with what ‘is’ and simply describe what that ‘is’ actually is, and how it ‘is’. But life’s questions of existence, meaning and purpose cannot be addressed in that way. Science may claim to have evidence that supports or cuts across some answers that philosophy and faith give, but it cannot ever replace them.

Unfortunately, practitioners of science and enthusiasts of science frequently claim far too much for the discipline. To believe that ‘science now has the answers’ is both to rate the level of science’s achievement too highly and to force it to try and do a job which, by definition, science can never do.

Science does not have all the answers. You need to consider Jesus Christ too.

Hopefully, having looked at the previous questions, you will see that science cannot answer any of them, given its current state of knowledge. But what it should do is challenge, on the basis of its own discipline, those who make unsupported claims about science’s ability to remove God or belief from the equation.

Faith and science do not conflict when both are properly used and applied.

And when they are, scientist and believer are often found in one and the same person.