I don’t Believe in God, I Believe in Science!

I believe in Science not God

In the greatly enjoyable 2006 comedy Nacho Libre, there is one scene where Esqueleto a small and quite skinny man finds himself in a wrestling ring forced to fight another much bigger and taller man, or be beaten up by him. Just before the events continue, Nacho and Esqueleto engage in the following dialogue:

Esqueleto: I can’t wrestle him.

Nacho: But you’re tall and fast like a gazelle, you can do it. Pray to the Lord for strength.

Esqueleto: I don’t believe in God, I believe in science. (1)

It is this last line by Esqueleto which is really at the heart of what I want to focus on in this article. At the foundation, much of the debate in today’s contemporary world about God and science stems from this very idea that it is ‘God vs Science’; the more science we learn the less we need God as an explanation.

Most people (believers in God or not) will most likely be familiar with the term ‘God of the gaps’. What people might not know however, is where this idea stems from. You would think it stemmed from some scientist in the past who thought about this God vs Science conundrum and then pushed the concept forward…but no, it actually originates from a 19th century Scottish evangelical theologian named Henry Drummond. When he coined the concept, it was not meant to be an argument against God since he himself believed in God. The whole point of him creating the term was so that people in general could be made aware of the apparent separation, and then not fall into the trap of actually using it as an argument against God! That’s right, the main purpose of the ‘God of the gaps’ invention was so that it would not be used as an argument against God. So how have we gotten to a point in this era where this is now one of the most common arguments against God, especially as employed by high ranking scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss?

Well this brings me to another historical event which helps demonstrate why this thought is so captivating, although completely useless when applied logically to any situation. There is an account told (possibly apocryphal) about the 18th century French mathematician and astronomer Laplace in which Laplace presented his work to Napoleon, who asked him where God fitted in. Laplace replied to Napoleon by saying “I had no need for that hypothesis”.

Laplace’s reply is the same type of a reply that many non-believers in God will give (although worded differently) when confronted about a question to do with God and science. Within this mind-set, God is seen as a ‘God of the gaps’ explanation so that the more we find out about the universe the less we need God as an explanation. According to this idea, in our “evolutionary”(2) past, humans couldn’t explain much about the world and so they had to invoke god like beings to explain away phenomena like thunder and lightning (the Greek gods). Once however, we developed good science and figured out how those phenomena worked…poof, those gods vanished. So it’s basically the same thing with the God of the Bible today, we now know so much about the universe that God is simply irrelevant.

This sounds like such a conclusive argument, so it’s no wonder so many people fall prey to it and maybe feel comforted by it. However, ultimately it is very weak argument when analysed properly, and in order to show why this is, I will use none other than Ford cars to elaborate. (Oxford Professor of mathematics John Lennox alludes to this example all the time to make this same point).

Ford Cars, Science and God?

Imagine you own a Ford car, and after a while of use, the engine breaks down so you take it to the mechanics to have it fixed. Whilst there, you ask the local mechanic how exactly the engine works. At this point the mechanic delves into a very detailed and technical answer about internal combustion, and the four-stroke combustion cycle, and the tiny space for small explosions known as the piston for propelling the car etc. After this satisfying explanation, you then think about it all and proceed to ask the mechanic, “So how did the car come to exist in the first place?” The mechanic then replies by saying “Ah now that would be the work and brains of Henry Ford the creator of Ford cars.” Notice something very important here. Merely explain how the car worked did nothing to get rid of Henry Ford who is the explanation (the personal reason) for why the car exists in the first place. It is very easy to see that these two concepts – henry ford (the agent), and the laws of internal combustion (the process) – are not at war, but rather are complementing. If someone told you to pick one answer out of the two as an explanation of how Ford cars came to be, you would rightly tell them that that is a Ludicrous choice to try and make, both explanations are needed in order to give a complete account of the existence of the Ford car. (3)

Hopefully you are already able to see how this relates to the idea of science and God. Science is a method for explaining how things work (the mechanical explanation of the car), however God is the personal explanation for why there is a universe to study in the first place (Henry Ford). God and science not only do not compete, but cannot compete because they are in completely different categories. In philosophy, this type of mislabelling is called a category mistake: putting God under the umbrella of a scientific theory that can be done away with once a better theory comes along.

Genesis starts with the words “In the Beginning God created the heaven and the earth” This is to say that (as John Lennox puts it) “God is not a ‘God of the gaps’, he is the God of the Whole show.”(3a) He created the bits we do understand as well as the bits we don’t understand. To try to apply the ‘God of the gaps’ logic to the God of the Bible is to show a complete lack of understanding as to who the Biblical God is, not to mention it doesn’t even begin to address the issue of God at all because by definition, the concept doesn’t apply to Him.

Science and Religion in Conflict?

My reasoning so far is not meant to be used as conclusive evidence to show that God must exist. The point of this article is to expose the fallaciousness of the entire ‘God of the gaps’ argument against the existence of God. If we want to rightly source evidence for God’s existence, we can put forward the very same question that 17th century German philosopher Leibniz put forward when he asked the famous question, why is there something rather than nothing?

On an interesting final note, it is worth pointing out that another reason (amongst many more) why people seem to cling onto the notion of the ‘God of the gaps’ is because they think it supports the idea that science and religion have always been at war. Unfortunately, once again, this is simply not true. Almost all modern historians of science today now conclude that science and religion have never historically constantly been at war but rather that they have always complemented each other. Here are just a few quotes from professors and historians justifying this position.

 

  •  Historian of Science Edward Grant – speaking about the early Catholic Church:

What made it possible for Western civilization to develop science and the social sciences in a way that no other civilization had ever done before? The answer, I am convinced, lies in a pervasive and deep-seated spirit of inquiry that was a natural consequence of the emphasis on reason that begun in the Middle Ages(4)

  • Professor of Humanities Lawrence M. Principe:

The idea that scientific and religious camps have historically been separate and antagonistic is rejected by all modern historians of science(5)

  • Former Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University Peter Harrison:

Today, people are less confident that history moves through a series of set stages toward a single destination. Nor, despite its popular persistence, do most historians of science support the idea of an enduring conflict between science and religion…In fact, contrary to conflict, the historical norm has more often been one of mutual support between science and religion. In its formative years in the 17th century, modern science relied on religious legitimation. During the 18th and 19th centuries, natural theology helped to popularise science (6)

 

Referencing 

[1] IMDb. 2006. Nacho Libre. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457510/.

[2] I do not hold to the evolutionary account as being our true origins

[3] John C. Lennox. 2012. Not the God of the Gaps, But the Whole Show. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-god-particle-not-the-god-of-the-gaps-but-the-whole-show-80307/.

[3a] Ibid.,

[4] Woods Jr, T., 2012. How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. 1st ed. United States: Regnery History. [Edward Grant – p 66] 

[5] Lawrence M. Principe, Transcript book for lecture course Science and Religion (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company, 2006), p. 23.

[6] Peter Harrison. 2017. Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it. [ONLINE] Available at: https://aeon.co/amp/ideas/why-religion-is-not-going-away-and-science-will-not-destroy-it.

 

Is Science Based on Faith?

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When someone is trying to prove a point (usually to do with the physical world), they will often refer to science by saying something along the lines of “it’s been scientifically proven that X is true.” After this is said, supposedly the case is settled unless there is some sort of evidence to the contrary. This points to the fact that today in current culture science has been venerated, and for clear reasons too – technological advancements (phones, space rockets, computers) – biological advancements (health care, genetics), the list could go on and on.

Great as this may be (and I am a huge fan of science), my one fear is that this sort of progress has led to a very biased approach towards how we view science. Many people have lifted science above all other fields of discipline such as, history, philosophy, art, politics and so on. The most extreme version of this bias comes in the form of scientism – the view that science is the only way to know truth – now this worldview is easily defeated (the statement itself cannot be scientifically tested and so if it is true…it is false), however, that isn’t my main focus here. I really want to focus on the concept of science and faith.

For clarification, when I say faith, I don’t mean it in the sense of religious faith in a creator (there are at least four different definitions of the word faith), I mean faith in the sense of warranted faith, the type of faith that everybody on earth exhibits on a daily basis whether they are religious or not in order to get through life. For example, when you go to drink water from the tap or a bottle, you do not conduct science experiment upon science experiment to determine if the water is clean to drink. When you are sleeping at night, you do not barricade yourself in your room for fear that a family member or friend will walk in and suddenly pull a knife on you in order to do you damage. The list runs deep but when we really take time to view how we live life, we realise that we really do exhibit a lot of faith, and that is what gets us through. The main question again I want to address is this: Is science based on faith?

Now before we get into this, we need to define the word faith. The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines faith as:

Complete trust or confidence in someone or something 

In this sense, we don’t necessarily have to include anything specifically religious at this point, we are just talking about having confidence and trust in something, and anybody is capable of that.

So, is science based on faith? Well on the surface, it seems that the answer is a clear NO, of course it isn’t. Science works via observation, testing, repeating and confirming results, it is in the business of strictly empirical findings. This would seem to be true, and it is! However, the question that I’m asking is not about what science does, but rather what it is based on…or in other words, what makes science possible? I will just focus on one topic below in order to try and help answer the question…mathematics (there are many more paths we could go down).

Mathematics, science and faith?

Science, especially the discipline of physics is based upon mathematics. Mathematics underpins science and seems to uphold it (in a sense). The problem here is that, mathematics – as any scientists will tell you – is law like, so much so that it is essentially referred to as “laws of mathematics”. In order for scientists to be able to land people on the moon, and to be able to send satellites into orbit around the world they have to utilise these laws of mathematics. The huge underlying questions however are: what are the laws of mathematics? Where did they come from? And why are they so consistent? Notice that scientists didn’t create and do no not uphold these laws of mathematics. Einstein knew this very well when he made the statement saying: “How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality?”[1]

The problem is that science is supposed to work empirically, however, the laws of mathematics are immaterial. E=MC2 is not something physical you can touch, it is an immaterial mathematical equation which helps us to understand the nature of mass and energy. Hopefully you are starting to see the big picture here.

Fundamentally, there is a major disconnect between ‘doing science’, and ‘knowing why science works’. The ‘knowing why science works’ part is something that is believed primarily by faith when it comes to truths such as mathematical laws. In fact, this topic cuts so deeply into the world of science that it caused Nobel Prize winning mathematician Eugene Wigner to write an entire paper entitled The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences. The last quote at the end of the paper is probably one of the most striking, and it puts a finger on Wingers central thoughts on the whole topic. Winger says that:

The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.[2]

This to me is a bit like a statement of faith from Wigner, and this is not a bad thing! It is just simply an admittance that science does not contain all the answers, and furthermore, it is an admittance that science cannot even fundamentally account for why it works in the first place.

 

Science and Religion

With this now is mind, I think it is easier to show that the straight line that people tend to draw between science as being “empirical truth” and religion as being “based on pure faith” in not as easily marked as first thought. A few point to consider are that:

  • Faith is a concept that applies to everybody whether religious or not.
  • Science is based upon faith on mathematical laws (and we could extend this to faith in gravity, energy, and light as well since nobody in the world knows what any those things fundamentally are)
  • There are at least four definitions of the word faith (Warranted, blind, evidence based, irrational,) and so we must know which definition we are talking about when we speak about the word
  • Scientists have a fundamental faith in certain unexplainable phenomena just like religious people do. God’s existence cannot be explained by humans, but neither can the laws of mathematics, or gravity, or energy, both fields exhibit very large degree of trust…faith!

 

References:

[1] Max Jammer. 1921. Einstein and Religion, Princeton University Press,

[2] Eugene Wigner. 1960. THE UNREASONABLE EFFECTIVENSS OF MATHEMATICS IN THE NATURAL SCIENCES. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.maths.ed.ac.uk/~aar/papers/wigner.pdf.

Can Science Answer Everything? Science Vs. Religion

Math formula

Experiment [science] is the only means of knowledge at our disposal. Everything else is poetry, imagination” – Max Planck.

Many people today take the position that science can answer everything. This viewpoint (whether known or not) involves the affirmation of the idea that science can answer questions of origins, morality and human purpose as well as the workings of astrophysical bodies and the function of DNA within the cell nucleus. Whilst science is no doubt an amazing field of study, research and discovery, I fear that many individuals today have propelled this subject into a position of prominence in which it cannot itself bear the weight of without crumbling.

This ‘scientific’ view of life has a number of names: ‘scientific naturalism’, ‘metaphysical naturalism’[1] , or ‘scientism’. Oxford University Chemist Professor Peter Atkinson is an outspoken believer in this worldview. He asserts that:

Every real question, like, where did the universe come from, where is it going, and how is it getting there – there is nothing of that nature that science cannot illuminate”[2]

Is this position tenable however? It is one thing to make a claim, and another thing to actually demonstrate it to be true.

It seems to me that at the heart of this contention, the underlying issues come to light in the term and saying that we all know and/or hear about so frequently; namely being: science Vs religion or science Vs faith and the unending debate between the two fields. It is assumed by many that science deals with a certain set of questions pertaining to hard facts and real knowledge whilst religion only deals with questions pertaining to purpose, afterlife and morality, all things that are optionally believed but not true or useful for objectivity in real life. Stephen Jay Gould coined this division as ‘Non-Overlapping Magisteria’.[3]

There are multiple problems that follow on from scientific naturalism however, the most obvious of which being that there are many questions that science simply cannot answer. What tends to happen when a person (who holds to scientism) tries to answer a question outside of the realms of science, is that they step into the world of philosophy (usually without even realising). Once this happens, the individual who is trying to prove that their worldview is logically cogent has simultaneously refuted their own worldview, rendering their argument quite useless.

Is it really science vs religion?

Of course this is the idea that is portrayed nowadays, however history paints a completely different backstory story. First and foremost we should understand that every major field of science that we have today (from mathematics, to physics to chemistry etc. – what we call modern science) was started by a believer in God, and not just any God, specifically the God of the Bible. In his book ‘For the Glory of God’ Sociologist and Professor of the social sciences at Baylor University Rodney Stark states that:

Science was not the work of western secularist or even deists; it was entirely the work of devout believers in an active, conscious, creator God.[4]

Professor of History at Queens Mary University Thomas Dixson similarly remarks that:

It was never the intentions of the pioneers of modern science – men such as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, or Rene Descartes – to undermine religions belief. Far from it. They envisaged Nature as an orderly system of mechanical interactions governed by mathematical Laws. And they hoped that people would see in this new vision the strongest possible evidence of divine power and intelligence.[5]

Secondly, contrary to popular belief, for the most part of the last 2000 years, science and religion have not been at warIn fact this whole idea of ‘science vs religion’’ only originated in the 19th century, just some 2-300 years ago. Two well-known historians were the primary cause of this: Andrew Dickson White and John William Draper. Dickson and White were the two most influential promoters of the ‘conflict thesis’ (the idea that science and religion were conflicting) and they determined to set religion and science into two opposing paths.[6] In his book ‘A history of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom’, White used the metaphor of ‘warfare’ to describe the relation between science and religion.[7]

Ultimately, what we need to realise is that before this point, the average scientist (in the western world) was a Christian, and as we have seen above, it was due to their faith in God that they were able to do such good science, not the opposite. It was because of their belief in the truth of scripture that they determined to apply their knowledge to the physical world. This application is what enabled western world science to advance far beyond that of eastern science where they still held to philosophical and deistic claims about the world. The myth of ‘science vs religion’ is quite frankly unfounded within history and most historians of science of today do not hold to this view anymore. As Lawrence M. Principe Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University puts it:

The idea that scientific and religious camps have historically been separate and antagonistic is rejected by all modern historians of science.[8]

Questions that science cannot answer

Let’s now turn to the main investigation at hand; what are some of the questions that science cannot answer? We will just look at 8 questions of which science has no ultimate say.

  • Science cannot tell us whether or not God exists: This question is by definition, outside the realms of science (since science is to do with things you can observe, test repeat and confirm). This type of a question would fall under the domain of philosophy; within this field, we could come up with a more definite answer, but not in science. Of course, we can use science in order to provide evidence for or against God’s existence, however It cannot give the definitive yes or no answer.
  • Science cannot answer questions of history (objectively speaking): for example, how do we scientifically test who first president of the United States was? You can’t. We find this information out through historical records not scientific experimentation. This is not to say that we cannot infer past event using the scientific method (creationists and evolutionists both do infer past events alike based on an interpretation of the present facts at hand), however many questions such as whether holocaust really happen or not (I do believe it did happen) are not answered by scientifically testing people or buildings; we look to history for this.
  • Science cannot answer questions of origins, purpose and afterlife: How do you scientifically test for a purpose to life? How do you scientifically test if there is an afterlife? A scientific naturalist might say that we are just atoms and chemicals and the universe – which is made up of time space and matter – is all there is, and so there is no afterlife. The issue here is that that very worldview is a philosophy in itself, it is not a statement of truth or science (although it could be true). You could just as easily have a theist say that there is a God and therefore there is a metaphysical reality above the material world. Secondly the idea that the universe only contains time space and energy are a part of the very question at hand we are trying to determine. Scientific naturalism assumes that there is nothing metaphysical, and then goes onto say that there cannot be anything metaphysical because materialism is true. This would be a form of logical fallacy known as circular reasoning, or ‘begging the question’. The actual question isn’t answered because the materialist has assumed their worldview to be correct in order to answer a question that fits within their worldview.
  • The question of how we came to be on an organic and cosmic level are questions that science cannot fully answer. We can derive evidence of the answer from science but yet again, whether you believe in evolution or creation, both of these events were not observed by humans and so again fall outside of science into the realms of philosophy, theology and history.
  • Science cannot answer questions of morality: How do we determine what is right and wrong? Again, historically the fields of theology and philosophy have been at the forefront of this type of search, not science. The obvious question here becomes, how does science point us to a moral code/conduct? It seems to me that science can tell us how something worksBut it cannot tell us why we should carry out an action. For example, if someone is drowning in a lake, science explains to us how they will die within minutes if they are not saved; however, science cannot tell a passer-by why they should jump into the water in order to save the drowning personThat is a moral choice one is compelled to make apart from any knowledge of science.
  • Science cannot answer what the mind is: We know through scientific study and observation that humans have brains, and we can detect and study neurons are conducted through synaptic connections as we grow and develop. However, what is a thought? What is the mind? Scientists do not know exactly what these things are and how they interact with the brain for the simple fact that the mind and our thoughts are immaterial. For example, when you learn a new piece of information, your brain doesn’t suddenly gain ever so slightly in weight. It remains as it is, your entire life. This raises a fundamental question, where are our thoughts stored? Because of the nature of the mind, science cannot offer us an answer because science only deals with what is observable, testable, and repeatable. Of course, the field of neuroscience is a great area of research, and much has been uncovered about the human brain and how nervous system develops. But the point still stands that neuroscience won’t tell us what the mind or for that matter consciousness fundamentally is.
  • Science cannot answer why mathematical laws exist: Einstein marvelled at the appropriateness of mathematical laws in the universe when he said, “How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality?”[9] Einstein saw that there was a major disconnect between doing science and knowing why it works. What he realised was that mathematical laws seemed to be embedded in nature quite independent from what scientists could come up with in their own minds. He, as a scientist, could use mathematical laws, and express them in terms of mathematical equation and formulae, however he could not answer (through science) how they came to be, why they fit so well with his perceived knowledge within science, and how they allowed him to make correct predictions about the world and universe, they just seemed to be there ready to use. The laws of mathematics are immaterial, and yet they are foundational to science especially in the area of physics. What we uncover here is a huge amount of faith underpinning the very essence of science at its core. Scientists have no choice but to maintain that the laws of mathematics are real and will be upheld, without any scientific experimentation to back that claim up. For a theist this might not be such a problem since you would expect God, as a rational being, to create laws that are rational and logical in order for us to utilise. For an atheists however, this might pose a large dilemma; how does so much order come from chaos and blind chance? furthermore why are the laws so consistent? No matter which side you take, the bottom line is that science cannot tell us why these laws exist.
  • Science cannot answer how the scientific method itself came about: What is the scientific method? It is essentially a set of techniques applied to certain phenomena in order to research, and eventually gain new knowledge that was previously unknown. Anything done within the scientific method (observation, hypothesis, testing, repeating, confirmation) can be classed as science; anything outside of this would be classed as something else. The scientific method is said to have characterized science since the 17th century until today by a range of highly acclaimed scientists over the centuries.[10] However, the scientific method itself didn’t come about by the scientific method! It wasn’t an observable phenomenon found in nature tested on, repeated, refined and then eventually released as the latest discovery. It’s It is used in that exact way to characterise what it science, however it itself wasn’t discovered by that same method.
  • Science cannot answer why science works in the first place: The claim that science is the only way we can know anything has a fundamental problem. Bertrand Russell famous philosopher claimed that “Whatever knowledge is attainable must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, man cannot know.”[11] Here is the underlying problem: Russell has made a bold claim about science, however the very statement of speech he has made wasn’t discovered or tested by science/the scientific method, and so is his claim true? In other words, if his claim is true… it is false. It’s a self-refuting worldview right off the bat. There is an even deeper issue here at play however, and that is this (in the word of Professor John Lennox): “at the heart of all science, every scientist no matter who they are or when they have lived, has had a fundamental belief – faith – that the universe is accessible at least in part to the human mind. We call that the rational intelligibility of the universe”.[12] The rational intelligibility of the universe is basically the underlying fact that the human mind has the ability to comprehend the universe (at least in part). This is foundational to science, after all animals are not able to comprehend the universe in the same way we can, and because of this they are extremely limited in their overall perception of the world and what they can do within it compared on a whole with human beings. The rational ineligibility of the universe is taken for granted, not just by scientists, but by everybody, yet it is not a concept that science has an answer to.

There are many more questions like these that we could pose, such as why did music develop? Why do we only seem to move in one direction of time? Is the universe infinite? Why is over 80% of the world religious? Hopefully however this article at least gives an outline of the basic assumptions that every scientist takes for granted (when we look at the basic definition of science and what it can actually account for). My interests lie in philosophy, science and religion and so my questions were thought up along those lines of enquiry, but it would be an fascinating field of research to find out just how many questions in total science cannot answer! Maybe it’s possible that nobody in the world can answer a question like this.

Referencing/citation:

[1] Dr. Denis Alexander () Can Science Explain Everything?, Available at: https://www.bethinking.org/does-science-disprove-god/can-science-explain-everything

[2] P. W. Atkins (2011) On being: a scientist’s exploration of the great questions of existence, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[3] Stephen Jay Gould, “Nonoverlapping Magisteria”, Natural History 106 (March 1997): 16-22

[4] Stark, R., For the Glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts and the end of slavery, Princeton University Press, 2003

[5] Dixon, Thomas (2008) Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction, : Oxford University Press. [P46-47]

[6]Frederick M. Seiler (2008) Science, Religion, and the Rise and Fall of the “Conflict Thesis”, Available at: http://fredseiler.com/essays/ConflictThesis.htm

[7] Dixon White (1896) History of the Warfare of science with theology in Christendom, : D. Appleton & Company

[8]Lawrence M. Principe, Transcript book for lecture course Science and Religion (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company, 2006), [p. 23]

[9] Albert Einstein (1879 – 1995)

[10] Scientific Method , Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/scientific_method

[11] Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), Religion and Science, OUP, p. 243, 1961

[12] John Lennox () Faith and Science – Atheism vs Theism , Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bjm4zJKVOE&index=13&list=PLmDyNeFa7FOsSPJ2sPYfDFFriXyeVmBJn&t=325s

Is the Scientific Method in the Bible?

The Scientific method

What exactly is the scientific method? This is quite possibly the question you may be pondering over right now as you read the title. In order to answer this question, let us first look at what the word science means. Science comes from the Latin word scientia, which means knowledge. The word science just simply means knowledge.
The modern dictionary definition of the word science you will find today defines science as:

A branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws

This then leads us to the scientific method. The scientific method is essentially what scientists use in order to do science; this method qualifies what is science and what isn’t. The oxford dictionary definition the scientific method as:

A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses

So where did the scientific method come from? To be precise, the definition above does not state that the scientific method came about in the 17th century; it just says that it has characterized natural science since the 17th century. There isn’t a set time where any one man invented the entire method. Over time esteemed names such as Newton, Galileo and Francis Bacon have contributed to what we now hold to be the scientific method.

There isn’t any set time where one man invented the method, however in the Bible, what we surprisingly (or should I say unsurprisingly) see is that the entire scientific method that we recognize and use today is pretty much summed up and displayed in action with God and Satan right at the heart of the experiment in the Book of Job. To add the icing on the cake, the book of Job that we see this take place in, happens to be one of the earliest books in the Bible according to dating (even though it is hard to pinpoint an exact date). Many scholars date the Book of Job to as early as 1700-1900BCE, around the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), in others words roughly 4000 years ago, way before the Roman or Greek Era.

Where do we see the Scientific Method in the Book of Job?

We see this method take place straight away in Job chapter 1 and 2. God lays out the plan in the order of: hypothesis, theory, testing (repeating), and confirmed result.

Hypothesis – Job 1: 6 – 12:

Satan comes into heaven. God starts the conversation by asking Satan what he has been doing. Satan says that he has been all across the earth. God then asks Satan if he has considered the righteous and wealthy man Job (even though he already knows the answer since he knows everything). Satan then responds by saying, he has seen him but that Job only worships God because he has given him riches and wealth, if he were to lose all of his riches, he would curse God and stop loving him. God (knowing Jobs heart and extremely strong faith in him) then says to Satan that he can test out his hypothesis on Job by taking away all his riches and his family, but not to lay a finger on his body. Satan agrees and now his experiment begins.

Theory and repetition of theory – Job 1:13 – 22 till Job 2: 1 – 10 :

Satan Goes down and ruins everything that Job has attained, taking away of all his wealth and fortune firstly, and then soon after, killing all his sons and daughters off. At the end of all this, Job, childless and penniless makes this amazing remark, (Job 1:21) “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job still loves God and doesn’t blame him for anything!

Satan angrily goes back to God and basically asks if he can repeat his experiment but this time by taking it up a notch. Satan now asks if he can harm Job’s actual body, to which God says yes he can harm his body but he cannot kill him. So Satan leaps joyfully back down to earth, and causes all kinds of illnesses within Job’s body, the most notable one being boils and saws all of his body. Satan is convinced that Job will deny God, thus making his hypothesis a good theory and eventually a confirmed result.

Unfortunately for Satan things do not go according to plan. In Job 2:9, Jobs wife comes up to him and tells him to curse God and die because the struggle is and has been too much to bear. Job yet again replies with this astounding message, (Job 2:10) “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Throughout all this, Job stays true and loyal to God, brushing of his wife’s remarks, and utterly destroying Satan’s plans without even knowing it!

Confirmed result:

We have already seen the results of the original hypothesis, but just to reiterate, in Job 1:21 and Job 2:10 we see that Job acts contrary to what Satan wants and hypotheses. To confirm Job’s responses in chapters 1 and 2, by the end of the entire book, Job still trust’s God, and all that he has lost is returned to him in much larger multitude than he ever had before by God!

In all this we can clearly see the scientific method laid out completely, from Satan’s original hypothesis, to the theory (a hypothesis tested with some solid evidence to back it up), and then the repeated testing in which he and God are able to eventually finalize the results. This is exactly the method that scientist use this very day in order to work and discover truths about the world, and as we have just seen, God himself was using this 4000 years before anyone, basically instructing us on how it should be done.

It’s a shame that in today’s society, the Bible isn’t credited with being the source of the scientific method simply because we are in an era where God and his Word have supposedly been falsified and shown to be untrue. What’s funny however is that the very method people try to use to disprove the Bible is the very method that validates the Bible. We often hear that science disproves the Bible and yet these same scientists use the scientific method practically everyday in their research completely oblivious to the fact that they are essentially stealing from the Bible in order to argue against it. What a strange world we live in, but thank God for the scientific method!

Final Note on Morality and Theology of the Book

In terms of the moral and theological aspect of this book of Job, there are answers to all of the questions posed in this book, however I have not tackled those questions purposely in this article as the main aim here is to display to you the roots of the scientific method only.