Science and its dependency on Faith

“Science is agnosticism”, proclaimed Thomas Huxley. It is a richly ambiguous remark. The word ‘agnosticism’, we must remember, has no inherent reference to the Deity. It fundamentally refers to a person’s state of ‘not knowing’ or even ‘knowing nothing’. In this sense, Huxley’s statement is false. Science does, indeed, provide us with real knowledge. In another sense of the term, agnosticism is traditionally linked with an absence of knowledge concerning the existence of God. But even in this sense, the statement is equally untenable because the knowledge gained through science, far from drawing a blank with regard to the reality of God, actually furnishes us with an intellectual bridge to His existence.

Reason, including scientific reason, moves easily and naturally from effect to Cause, discovering in the natural order implications for the existence of a higher order. Christians, surely, should have no fear that reason and science lead to an agnosticism of God. As St. Paul has written, “Test all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1Th 5.21). For Paul, God and man, faith and reason, life and love, are marvellously unified in Christ: Christ dwells in the intellect by faith, in the heart and affections by charity, and in the soul by grace.

Science depends on faith far more than is generally assumed. The scientist must make an initial act of faith that the world to which he applies reason is one whose laws are both intelligible and consistent. He must believe, or else he would lose heart and fear that the laws of the universe are like the croquet game in Alice in Wonderland, where the rules of the game change from moment to moment by the arbitrary decree of the Queen.

For this reason, Norbert Wiener (Father of Cybernetics), who received a Harvard Ph.D in mathematics at 18, and later wrote a book, God and Golem Inc., which won the National Book Award in 1964, asserts that “Science is impossible without faith”.

Source: Don DeMarco (1998) Science and Faith, Proceedings from the 21th Annual Convention of The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars


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