Science and God: The Search for Truth

            There is a practical reality that is popularly acknowledged within our modern culture that knowledge has become so vast that no one person can become a true expert in more than one or two fields.

            Specialization is a practical limitation realistically confronting every college student in choosing a major course of study.  The medical student at some point must decide upon a particular field of medicine to specialize in.  The gifted athlete in high school can excel in three or four sports, but if they eventually want to become a professional athlete as a career, they must choose a specific sport to focus on.

            There are a host of other go/no-go decisions in modern life today that were not as extensive a few centuries ago, when options were narrower in scope and fewer in number.

            But the stereotypical “Renaissance Man” exemplified by Leonardo DiVinci who could reach the top in several fields of knowledge…as now being beyond reach in our modern times…in my opinion is a proverbial half-truth.

            If exaggerated, this concept can create a polarized, black-and-white dichotomy between expert and layman…between the haves and have-nots in terms of higher education.

            If carried too far, this concept can create an artificial level of authority surrounding a group of facts that is exclusive.  This exclusivity around expertise is in actuality a fiction.

            If I am going to have open heart surgery, I certainly want a world-class heart surgeon performing the operation.

            But this does not preclude me from gaining some intermediate level of “expertise” through research on the Internet, discussions with my family doctor and with the heart surgeon, and discussions with friends and family members familiar with the subject through their own medical experiences.

            The information needed to make an informed decision as to which surgeon to choose based upon their specific medical approach to heart surgery and their reputation, resides at the popular level accessible to non-expert laymen.

            The vast quantity and breadth of knowledge acquired in so many varied fields today can foster the appearance of an unbridgeable “Renaissance Man” gap creating the expert and layman in terms of specialization.

            But the steady march forward of progress has also produced the Internet that makes access to information so broadly available as to close this gap of polarized extremes to within reasonable proportions.

            In several places in this book, I described the universal imperative that even the most technical concepts in science must be reduced to skeletal explanatory frameworks connecting the dots of evidentiary data…in order to provide hypothetically meaningful storylines.

            Raw facts are not enough.  Even the most technically complex facts in science when grouped within a research program, tell a story.

            Every scientist applying for a research grant of funds must arrange the hypothetical facts to be investigated into a preliminary storyline that has persuasive appeal and meaning…to the panel of people approving or rejecting the application for the research grant.

            This is an inescapable reality of the human psyche that connects the insatiable curiosity of our minds with both the orderliness and intelligibility of the phenomena in the natural world…always applying the solvent of organized meaning to unravel complexity.

            This renders existing facts amenable first to discovery, then to story-telling.  Our intellectual and moral capacity through human nature arranges these facts into meaningful descriptions of reality.

            World-class scientists must “dumb-down” their findings to the point of being communicable through the language of words and numbers in order to be understandable to other fellow scientists and to the general public.

            This incredibly reduces all of human scientific investigation into skeletal explanatory frameworks.

            This is what we find on the Internet in the form of 10-minute presentations, 60-minute speeches to various audiences, 90-minute panel discussions with follow-up questions from the audience, and 90-minute debates between world-class experts.

            This modern development of the Internet makes accessible to the general public the reduction of book-length topics condensed down to the key bullet points that can be covered in a short-length lecture.

            This highlights a fallacy that is immensely profound in the human search for truth.

            This fallacy is that there is an unbridgeable gap between expert and layman based upon the idea that information can be too technical and too vast for anyone other than specialized elites.

            A fundamental concept in the Bible is that God…the ultimate expert…is capable of composing life-scripts for people that will download some portion of His divine nature and knowledge actualized through guided experience.

            These guided life-scripts are exhibited in the biblical narrative stories of faith…the penultimate examples of skeletal explanatory frameworks that reduce divine expertise into experiential lessons-learned accessible to non-divine human beings.

            This concept has a fascinating correspondence to the orderliness and intelligibility of the phenomena in the natural world, logically inferring that the technical complexity therein is also reducible to being understandable to humans through the storyline frameworks of language.

            The language of words and numbers inherent in thoughts removes the barrier between expert and layman…even when it comes to God the Creator of the organized complexity we discover in the physical universe.   

            Skeletal explanatory frameworks are accessible to layman non-experts, simply by virtue of their technical complexity being translated into the story-telling language of understandable words and numbers. 

            This is what we find today on the Internet.

After-the-fact hindsight helps

            Explanatory storylines also become popularly accessible through the benefit of hindsight over time that makes revolutionary, cutting-edge scientific discoveries in the past understandable today, that were unheard of five or ten years prior to their historical discovery.

            For example, I cannot capably give a one-hour lecture to college physics students on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity first proposed in 1916, but after reading a book or two on the subject or watching a 30-minute podcast on You Tube, I know more about the general concept of the relativity of time-travel than someone in 1910, for example. 

            Although I am not an astrophysicist, I know more about the Big Bang discovered by Edwin Hubble in 1929, than someone living in 1920.

            Although I am not a geneticist or microbiologist, I know more about the general outlines of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells, discovered by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953, than someone living in 1945.

            Although I am not a PhD professor of biological evolution at a university, I know more about the pros and cons of macroevolution than a person living in 1850.

            In this book I am making generalized observations and conclusions that fall within the purview of skeletal explanatory frameworks…that given some degree of research at the popular level can reasonably inform our choice of worldview ideologies for living.

Discernment and critical-thinking are needed in the modern marketplace of ideas

            In today’s world, the essential human attributes are the exercise of discernment and critical-thinking, and not the accumulation of more data that widens the artificial perception of the gap between expert and layman.

            In my opinion, we have enough evidence to make an informed decision regarding the purpose and meaning of life.

            This gets down to the essence of pondering our creation, a question that cannot be relegated to the authority of human scientists to decide for us.

            One of the key points here is that both science and God-composed journey of faith life-scripts in the Bible are about discernment.

            Using an analogy given in an upcoming essay, a defense attorney and a prosecutor can argue both sides of the same identical facts in a criminal case.

            The search for the single point of truth starts with a continuum line having several options that can be “spun” into the different scenarios of guilt or innocence.  At the completion of the courtroom trial the case is then given to the jury to decide.

            This is an essence of reality.  Truth can be downgraded…corrupted…into falsehoods.

            Scientific materialists through their worldview ideology chop-off a large segment of the continuum line of options before the “both sides” of the argument can even begin.

            The galactic-scale irony in our modern times is that the empiricism of the fact-based evidence that scientists pursue, is the very thing that the God of the Bible deliberately intended by making the natural world orderly and intelligible.

            But the God of the Bible also gifted humans with the intellectual and moral capacity to correspond to this intelligibility.

            This is a reality that should go a long way towards highlighting the existence of purpose in human life.

            The realistic combination of mass/energy and agency provides the fullest spectrum for exploration in search of the various points of truth…in science and in the broad array of moral concepts.

            Truth is discerned through experience…in scientific investigation and in a God-composed journey of faith life-script.

            As a Christian, I can have both. 

            In fact, I must have both in operation to actualize an acceptable level of “sanity” in supervising multiple-unit housing construction jobsites…my chosen career…in the effort to minimize the daily routine of “putting-out fires” in the never-ending reactive mode of problem-solving.

            Debugging housing construction is all about pinpointing the one correct point on the continuum line of possible options.  It is about discovering through the lessons-learned of experience and observation the one, true, optimum design and construction for a particular activity, eliminating other possibilities that result in problems and mistakes.

            Whether it is doing the basic field research to discover and document mistakes in housing construction, or learning by the mistakes I make as a redeemed yet imperfect person inhabiting an “earthen vessel” as described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:7…both journeys require humility.

            The overall journey requires the initial recognition and acknowledgment of the humility of knowing I am imperfect in both of these realms of discovery…the technical and the moral.

From the book Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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