The Faith of Science

Let us take as true the claim that few if any clear miracles have occurred in the last centuries, basically since the dawn of the scientific era. Many may disagree, even vehemently, but let us accept that statement.

What would be a clear miracle? Anything the four main gospels indicate Christ performed, i.e. a directed, observable transformation outside any known scientific explanation and astounding in that transformation. We will add that a current miracle needs verification by an array of non-religious authorities and observation by many.

As noted, let us accept no such miracle has occurred in the last several centuries.

Would that establish anything? I would offer that it would not. The lack of miracles would shed little or no light on the questions of the existence of the supernatural, and the relation of Science and Religion.

In the great Foundation series, Issac Asimov postulates that a great mathematician Hari Seldon develops a technique, psychohistory, which can predict the future of the Galactic Empire. Seldon predicts a thirty millennium dark age, and sets in motion a plan to shorten that to a thousand years. The plan will cycle through stages, during which different cultural forces, be it technology or commerce or worship, each have primacy. The flow of these cycles creates a sweep of history that will shorten the impeding dark ages.

Religious salvation at the hand of a God could readily run through stages. Just as Seldon psychohistory ran through stages, religious salvation could require a sequential sweep of stages. We could be in a purposeful stage of no miracles, since a secular development of science may serve as a key stage in salvation sweep.

You may find this hypothesis astounding, even absurd. You may say no sweep of salvation history exists. But you could not base that objection on the “apparent” current no-miracle era. Any lack of miracles in the modern era does not disprove the existence of miracles in other times, nor does it disprove the existence of a God, nor does it disprove the existence of a sweep of salvation history.

Miracles, God and a sweeping salvation history could exist even if the current era lacks miracles.

The Efficiency of Science

Science stands as among the most objective pursuits of mankind. Many have written about how cultural and organizational imperatives bend and corrupt science. However, Science requires objective observational evidence, and in the end observation has banished threads of theories that are incorrect thinking.

Further, at every turn Science has overcome apparent limitations to the observable. Observations are becoming expensive, e.g. the Large Haldron Collider, or the James Webb Space Telescope, but I for one would not be surprised if Science develops methods to observe events before the Big Bang, or that occur in other multi-verses.

There is an uncertainty though. For all of the past and ongoing success of Science, it remains a hypothesis, not a fact, that the explanatory reach of Science can expand for ever. We extrapolate from past and current success that Science can continue to solve problems; but we don’t know for certain.

Some might say we have a faith in Science.

You might object. Certainly the trajectory of scientific explanation provides proof of its future efficacy. But we have been at Science for a relatively short period, in historic terms, four centuries, maybe five. And just as the apparent lack of miracles for five centuries provides, in my judgment, no firm foundation for declaring Religion irrelevant, the success of Science for five centuries provides no proof, only a faith, that Science can expand its reach forever.

Am I stating Science will hit a limit? No. What I am saying is that as I, as we, search for understanding and truth, I will not, and we collectively can not, discard that Science could reach a limit.

The Science of Religion

Religion seeks to give insight to that which is beyond, beyond our physical senses and beyond our understanding. Religion provides illuminations about our afterlife, and our origins, and our purpose, and our destiny.

And in numerical and commitment terms, Religion has accomplished that with great success. Billions of people profess faith and belief in the dogma and revelations provided by Religion and the iconic figures of Religion, such as Christ, Mohammed, and Buddha.

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