“It is more reasonable to believe only in what I can see. Therefore I only believe physical things exist, not souls, values, God, or anything else immaterial.” This is a third assumption undergirding the “Science or Faith” narrative that is so prevalent in our time. However, as was true for the first two assumptions, this third assumption has a number of fatal flaws, and therefore should be rejected. I have addressed each of these in detail previously, and so in this blog, I will only touch on three responses and link to the fuller explanations.
Response 1: This Assumption is Only True if it is False!
This objection fails logically before it even gets off the ground. If it is true, it must be false (it is logically “self-defeating”). If it is truly more reasonable only to believe what is physical, then why believe “I only believe what is physical”? That belief itself is not physical. So by believing it is true, one is already assuming it is false. Only by it being false can it be true. I discuss this in more detail here.
Response 2: This Absolutizes Science, Which is Irrational
A related reason this assumption fails is that it implicitly assumes scientism. Scientism is the absolutizing of science. It takes something good (science—the way we build understanding of the physical world and its processes) and makes it absolute (the way we develop knowledge of everything). Scientism says that science is either the only way to know something, or at least the best way to know something.
Much like the story about the emperor’s new clothes, once we challenge this belief it becomes obvious that it is false. I’ve unpacked these reasons in more detail here.
Response 3: There Are Good Reasons to Believe Many Unseen Things Exist
A third reason to reject the assumption that “It is more reasonable to believe only in what I can see” is that there are the many good reasons to believe in things that we cannot see. There are good reasons to believe universals such as natures and numbers exist (I say more about this here). There area also good reasons to believe moral values exist (see here and here for more) and that souls exist (see here for more). Lastly, there are good reasons to believe God exists (I discuss this in further detail here and here.)
Upon closer reflection, this third assumption underlying the “science vs. faith” narrative turns out to be as false as the other two assumptions we have considered. It is just not true to assert that “it is more reasonable to believe only in what I can see. Therefore, I only believe physical things exist, not souls, values, God, or anything else immaterial.”
Without these three supporting assumptions, there are no good reasons to believe one must choose between science and faith. Properly understood, “science” is a belief in physical or material realities based on adequate evidence. Similarly, “faith” is a belief in immaterial realities based on adequate evidence. As a result, one can embrace both science and faith as valuable tools in our ongoing search for truth and knowledge of what is real—in both the material and immaterial realms. Not having to be forced to choose between science and faith should be good news for us all!
Until next week, grace and peace.