Monday, February 2, 2015

Assumptions and Faith

Last week I read an article about Charles Townes’ death. You might not recognize the name, but he had an impact our our lives. In 1954, he and his students developed the "microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The maser preceded the laser, which changed our way of life from medicine to manufacturing - even to our selection of entertainment channels.

What I found most interesting in the article is something I've felt, but haven't heard a scientist say what Townes was quoted in 2005:
Many people don't realize that science basically involves assumptions and faith. But nothing is absolutely proved.
I believe those assumptions and faith are what divide the nation in a recent Pew Research Center report, Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society. To put it mildly (which we really don’t) our views diverge. Pew describes these as:
. . .  powerful crosscurrents that both recognize the achievements of scientists and expose stark fissures between scientists and citizens on a range of science, engineering and technology issues.
A large difference is shown in how scientists perceive the public’s knowledge about science. Eighty-four per cent of scientists consider our lack of knowledge to be a major problem, another 14% consider it a minor problem.
I did not find a question/response that showed the public’s view of scientists lack of knowledge about religion being a problem, but I consider that to be one. It is a difference based on whether faith is based on someone’s scientific, perhaps empirical, evidence and another’s personal, daily living, evidence.

We all have faith in something. It is good for us to think about where our faith is based. Wherever our assumptions originate, faith still is:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

No, I have no empirical evidence that God exists. No, there is no empirical evidence that God does not exist. But, I have faith that He does based on years of experience making decisions based on instructions in the Bible.

No, I do not have an experiment that a person without faith could complete to show evidence – it’s a very personal experience, a different step for everyone. According to scripture, there is one requirement:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

Back to Townes’ quote that science includes assumptions and faith, surely there’s a spot available in everyone for the faith to diligently seek Him. That is so much better than denying without reason – and better than saying we accept what we hear without understanding the faith that is required.

That said, is it fair to reject science without a fair hearing? Shouldn’t we learn enough to be knowledgeable when we refute a scientists’ statement? And, shouldn't we ask the same in return when they consider our faith?

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