Tough Questions Answered

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Can Science Answer the Most Important Questions of Life?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Have you ever noticed that the most important questions in life cannot be conclusively answered by the scientific method of empirical observation and experimentation?

We can use science to study the weather, to create wireless communication, to study the respiratory systems of whales, to better see the stars, to learn about soil erosion, to build skyscrapers, and to fly aircraft.

All of these subjects yield themselves to scientific investigation such that mankind can eventually come to know these areas in extraordinary detail and precision.  We just continue collecting data, analyzing data, and testing hypotheses – over and over again until we finally understand.

These subjects are all wonderful, in and of themselves, but they aren’t what’s truly important.  What about God, love, friendship, morality, heaven and hell, human consciousness, the meaning of life, the origin of the universe?  These are the questions that strike us in the middle of the night when a loved one is in the ICU at the hospital, or when we witness the birth of a child, or when we suffer financial ruin, or when we contemplate marrying the person we love, or when we just have some peace and quiet and can immerse ourselves in deep thought.

None of these questions ultimately lend themselves to the scientific method, but they are the most important questions.

My family loves the silly movie Nacho Libre.  In the movie, one of the characters is asked if he believes in God, and he answers, “I don’t believe in God.  I believe in science.”

It is fitting that the movie is a comedy because this response is truly comical.  The person who believes in only science is fundamentally punting on all the major questions of life.  They are saying, in effect, “We are going to limit ourselves to the lesser things of life, the things we can know with a high degree of scientific certainty.”

It’s comical, but it’s also sad.  What impoverished existence – cutting off oneself from the only things that ultimately matter.


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Comments

  • Dick Carlton

    Yes it is sad that some people say there is no God when they are only lieing because in there heart ( the center of there being ) they know God because He has witnessed to them, says Rom. 1:21 and Eph. 4:17-19

    God bless you as you fight the good fight.

    D. Carlton

  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    “These subjects are all wonderful, in and of themselves, but they aren’t what’s truly important. What about God, love, friendship, morality, heaven and hell, human consciousness, the meaning of life, the origin of the universe?”

    First of all, I find (most) of these things just as important as you do. Love, friendship, morality, human consciousness, the meaning of life, and the origin of the universe are all things that I contemplate and examine everyday, and have spent a great deal of time and effort investigating.

    “None of these questions ultimately lend themselves to the scientific method, but they are the most important questions.”

    I disagree with you, because science is working on the origin of the universe, science can explain the social workings of friendship and love, and psychology helps us understand the human consciousness. Just because there remain unanswered questions does not mean they are unanswerable. When you demand an answer to a question right now, you will often get an answer at the sacrifice of truth. Not all these questions are so easy to answer, but it is easy to accept the answers that religion gives you, because your hunger for knowledge is satisfied, your curiosity is satiated. However, accepting these answers with no evidence supporting them is not a valid reason to believe in a god. I freely admit that science cannot answer all the questions you or I might have, but I for one am not willing to accept unsupported answers in the meantime.

    “What impoverished existence – cutting off oneself from the only things that ultimately matter.”

    While I thank you for your concern, I would assert that there is nothing “impoverished” about my existence (except for being a poor college student). I do not cut myself off from friendship or love, I seek to understand the human mind, and I investigate the origins of the universe, just as you do. The difference is, I will not accept a claim as true without suffienct, demonstrable evidence of that claims truth, whereas religious believers will accept things “on faith”, with no real reason.

  • http://www.secularthinker.com The Secular Thinker

    I say that there is not enough evidence or reason to believe in any god, so am I a liar? I assume you probably won’t believe me when I say it, but I actually do not “know God”. I would additionally argue that my heart does not know anything, as it has no connection to my conscious mind, other than providing my brain with the blood it needs to function. If “He has witnessed to” me, I would very much like to see him, or some proof of him. But until then, I see no valid reason to believe that anything like “Him” exists.

  • Bill Pratt

    ST,
    Science cannot, in principle, get at the origin of the universe because science relies on the laws of physics to observe anything. But the laws of physics were not in operation before the universe began. This is a metaphysical question that cannot be answered by science.

    As for science explaining friendship, love, and human consciousness, all that science can do is tell us the physical processes that go on when a human being reports these experiences. Surely a reduction of love to chemical equations is wildly incomplete.

    If you ever get married, make sure you tell your wife that the only reason you love her is all the chemical processes that go on in your brain. Tell your friends that the only reason you are friends with them is because of the laws of physics and chemistry.

    Do you see how these things cannot be reduced to scientific questions? Science can tell us some interesting things about the physical properties of our bodies, but if you believe that science can tell us everything, then you have reduced man to a meat machine.

  • Andrew

    That’s why science is fundamentally opposed to religion. Science answers the USEFUL questions, while religion answers the ones that simply reflect upon misconstructions of metaphysical “truths” that have no basis in reality. No… science can’t answer “Who is god?” or “Is there a god?” because it answers questions that mean something and are important. The god debate is pseudo-important because at the end of the day the “believers” are flying under a banner which admits they have no evidence and that says you should just take their word for it: Faith. By far the most fraudulent virtue.

    You have also assumed there is a universal agreement on what questions are “really important.” Sorry, but from my perspectives, less than 10% of your questions are actually “important” questions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tommarroww Joshua Dale

    Nah man, He’s spoken to you; you simply perceived it as thunder.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tommarroww Joshua Dale

    Fundamentally, science is also based on faith. Until science can answer the question of the origin of the universe and provide substantial evidence, it’s basis is just as fraudulent as it claims the Bible to be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Ryan/511764596 Andrew Ryan

    Non sequitur. If you believe science to be fraudulent, stop taking medicine, stop using a computer. Either science works or you’re hallucinating this very conversation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Ryan/511764596 Andrew Ryan

    He didn’t do a very good good of talking to him then, did he? He might want to try using English…

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    You asked on another post about which atheists are claiming that the questions religion answers are unimportant. Andrew’s comments above fit the bill nicely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Ryan/511764596 Andrew Ryan

    Touche!

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