B: What exactly is “fact?” Another word for truth, of course. And science, as it is currently constituted, will never be a source of universal truth. All it can give us is evidence. Because with every conclusion that science makes, one can ask the question, “does the conclusion hold at all times, places, and situations?” And science simply cannot answer that question, since it cannot account for all times (including the future and the past), places (which include the apparently infinite vastness of space), or situations (the nature of all such we have no way of possibly knowing beforehand). In fact, science cannot actually prove anything; it’s not built so much on a structure of proofs, only heaps of evidences and assumptions. I mean, there’s plenty of logical reasoning involved in science, and some proofs based on both logic and the given assumptions, yes. But let’s take mathematics in comparison. One can’t make a jump from one assertion to another without absolute proof in mathematics, regardless of however much “evidence” he has. If mathematics were considered a branch of science, then it would be the branch of science that is built on absolute proofs. But even the assertions of mathematics depend on axioms and definitions, all of which were man-made. If you really want universal truth, then as we established before, your source can only be God, and He’s the only ultimate source there’ll ever be.
Let’s take, for an
Example, Isaac Newton’s laws of physics and universal motion. They did a splendid job of describing the universe back in the day. And by “the day,” I mean the period of two hundred or so years from their publication (in the 17th century) to the 19th century, at the latter end of which along comes this guy named Einstein who challenged that perhaps in some situations Newton’s laws do not actually apply. He backed this with a bunch of theory which is called the Theory of Relativity, and what a grand theory it is. There’s been a bunch of evidence established backing this theory.
But hold it: what about Newton’s laws? Weren’t they already pre-established “facts?” It sure seemed like there were truckloads of evidence to support them. But suddenly, because of this upstart Einstein, we realize they weren’t “facts” at all: they were just a way of modeling the universe based on evidences. There was never any reasonable way for Newton to know that in some extreme circumstances, his laws would not apply. And in fact the same thing applies to Einstein’s replacement theory: there very well could be another situation of which we are unaware, wherein his theory does not apply either, and a new theory or set of laws will be needed to explain the science involved.
A: OK, so science isn’t based on fact, but evidence. Big schmeal. Why is it so important for this little detail to be extinguished?
B: Because there may be, and I imagine that there are, a great deal of people who think that science is based on fact, and it is because of this that science is often elevated to be the singular authority on universal truth, and yet it could never actually be the source of any of it. And this is one reason people have difficulty reconciling science and religion.
A: And how do you reconcile science and religion?
B: Easy: if ever they appear to be in conflict, there apparently is something left unexplained, whether on the science side or on the religion side (or even, I might say perhaps usually, both), and we have yet more knowledge to obtain. Therefore, the “conflict” is simply an opportunity for more knowledge. If we are truly interested in pursuing truth, or if we truly have an “open mind,” we might consider pursuing the further explanations on both the religious and scientific sides of the issue.
Anyway, my point is, that science can never be a source of eternal truth. Thus we might classify it as a kind of “temporary” truth. There are other kinds of temporary truths, as you might imagine. We can talk about those too, if you like. But next time. Right now I’m just plain tired.
B: Sure there are. For instance, science accepts truth only through the Scientific Method.
A: Well, what other way could there be to find truth, anyway?
B: Through the Spirit, for one, which we’ll discuss later.