Science or Scientism

Pastor James
February 29, 2024

Science is one thing. Scientism is another.

Science is the study of the physical world. Through observation, hypothesis, prediction, and experiment, it seeks to discover how the material world works and applies the findings to practical use. Science is great! Our life without it seems unimaginable. There's hardly anything we do, which doesn't involve the benefits of science.

Scientism, on the other hand, is a belief system. It believes in science as the almighty power to solve all of life's problems--from ending world hunger to curing all diseases--and to answer all life's questions, including the meaning and purpose of our lives. It believes science to be the only way of arriving at any true knowledge--including social and moral. Scientism brings science out of its proper domain and allows it to issue definitive pronouncements about everything.

Not all scientists believe in scientism. Some are quite concerned. One scientist said, "All too many of my contemporaries in science have accepted without question the hype that suggests that an advanced degree in some area of natural science confers the ability to pontificate wisely on any and all subjects" (Austin L. Hughes).

Science can tell us how this universe works, but it cannot tell us how it came into being, let alone why it exists. Science is a big part of our life, but we cannot deny that science deals only with physical matters and the physical laws that govern them. It doesn't encompass every aspect of our wonderfully multi-dimensional and multi-faceted life. Wouldn't you agree our life is much more than the molecules that make up our body and their physical properties and motions?

Science has nothing to say about the existence of God; scientism will say that God doesn't exist and that science proves it. Is it "scientific" to make any statement about God's existence? Is something automatically "scientific" because a scientist said it? Can science make any value or moral judgment?

Moreover, can science prove that this physical world is all there is to reality? If there is a supernatural realm, and if the supernatural world should intrude into this physical universe--e.g., by way of miracles--it would be beyond science’s explanatory powers. Should there be a miracle, scientism would deny it or try to explain it scientifically. If it can’t, it will still not view it as a miracle; it will just put it aside till later, believing that science will one day be able to explain it.

There is something other-worldly about us. Even though we are made of lifeless particles, we live, think, feel, and imagine. We're passionate about love and justice, right and wrong--even to the point of sacrificing our lives--in this amoral, non-living, unconscious universe. We have an inkling that we are made for a world beyond this physical universe. We are supra-natural beings if you will.

The greatest proof of that inkling is Jesus' resurrection. It shows that this physical universe is not all there is to reality. For resurrection is not of this world of change and decay. Jesus' resurrection shows that death is not the end of all. There's a real supernatural world, to which our very being points because we are not entirely of this world.

Can science definitively say Jesus' resurrection did not take place because it defies the laws of nature? But the very point of Jesus' resurrection is that it is an absolutely unique event in history, supernatural in character. How can it be otherwise if it is meant to overcome the limitations of this world of change and decay and usher in the kingdom of heaven and eternal life? If you believe in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again from the dead for sinners, you will have eternal life with God forever in a world that will never perish! We invite you to put your faith in God, who made this world and sent Jesus Christ to redeem it and glorify it far beyond our imagination.