Anyone who does Scientific research knows that it usually produces more questions
Scientists are sceptical about everything, including the ‘accepted wisdom’. They
harbour a precious questioning doubtfulness which drives them to seek evidence and,
if it contradicts the established position, they are prepared to revise their previously
held opinions. Witness what happened when Einstein’s Theory improved upon Newton’s1.
Some religious people find this attitude hard to comprehend being used to a simple,
fixed, certain and ‘unchanging’2 doctrine that’s set down in black and white in some
1. To clarify, Newton was not proved3 wrong by Einstein, his description of gravity
is still good enough to enable us to accurately send spacecraft to rendezvous with
the moons of Neptune. Although it’s a different way of looking at things, Einstein’s
Relativity Theory is a only small improvement over Newton when calculations involving
distances beyond the solar system or speeds approaching that of light are involved.
2. Although some religious people like to portray their doctrine as unchanging truths,
the reality is the reverse. Unsurprisingly, with books written centuries ago when
mankind really understood very little, some of the opinions (because that’s all they
are) expressed have turned out to be embarrassingly wrong. Pope John Paul II had
to admit the church was wrong about insisting that the Sun goes round the Earth and
the Catholic church has recently abandoned the concept of “limbo”;
It’s only recently, since we gained an understanding of Chemistry and Physics, that
we have been able to design the tools to begin to study ourselves. Even so, Scientists
have made some remarkable breakthroughs. In the West we live almost twice as long
as we did a century ago and people are in such good condition in their sixties that
it is spoken of as the ‘new forties’.
Yes, there are exceptions that Science cannot explain yet. Such as patients who were
told they can only expect to live a few months and are still alive years later. Well,
if you were a Doctor with evidence of a terminal disease and you had to estimate
your patient’s life expectancy, which side would you prefer to err on? If you said
ten years and they died in two months you might get sued!
One recent story reported a baby, stillborn in the opinion of the doctors, who the
mother cuddled ‘back to life’. It’s a very heartwarming tale but much more likely
that the doctors, being error prone humans, didn’t notice the infant’s imperceptible
life signs. If there are only a few cases which contradict a large body of evidence
we have to decide whether it is a ‘miracle’ or if there is a more plausible rational
The other accusation I hear is that Science cannot explain everything. TRUE!
But, come on, make up your minds - you can’t accuse Science of being know-all and
not knowing all!
Scientists recognise that much needs to be discovered and are working on it! That’s
the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, amongst many other research programmes.
In particular, some people say Science cannot explain feelings like love. I say the
word missing from that claim is ‘yet’! Recent research, using new instruments which
enable the study of the living, thinking brain, is getting pretty close!
Science is not merely the best method for finding out, it’s the only one that works!