An intrepid reader, Jonathan, had a great comment on my last post about that guy offering $10,000 to ‘prove’ a particular way of reading the creation narratives in Genesis. It’s important to point out that by ‘intrepid reader,’ I mean ‘one of my oldest friends from high school and college, who was also in my wedding.’ Calling Jonathan a ‘reader’ is like saying my mom is a huge fan of my music: it might be true, but it also masks reality.

That said, here is his comment (reposted without his permission):

I’ve thought a lot recently about this, and how hard it is to disabuse ourselves of post-enlightenment thinking. Science is so very good at what it does, that we seem incapable of seeing truth as anything other than empiricism. And really, that’s a shame. Because trying to reconcile empiricism is a losing battle (and frankly, a waste of time much better spent).

I thought this deserved a direct response because I think he is absolutely correct. The scientific method excels at what it does: studying repeatable events. I am living proof of the effectiveness of science, as without it, I would have died of leukemia in early to mid 2006 (dx’ed Oct 2005). But when we equate ‘truth’ and ‘science,’ we have a problem. Indiana Jones, in “The Last Crusade,” put this clearly: Science is the search for fact. If you want truth, go to the philosophy department.

Cover of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crus...

The reason why this confusion between fact and truth is problematic is that 99.9% of my existence and experience consists of non-repeatable events. If we limit truth to empiricism, as Jonathan warned, we unwittingly dismiss most of the human experience, and the things that make us human – the arts, aesthetics, relationships – get implicitly marginalized and dismissed as fluffy bits that really aren’t important.

Ironically, assuming that science is the fount of all truth ends up dehumanizing us.

I don’t know…what do you think?

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