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.
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?