A Question to Ponder: Should Science Discovery Alter Faith?

If we presume faith, as part of discovering truth, is adjusting our perception of ourselves and our setting to how things actually are, then shouldn’t science be used to assist us in this quest? For example discoveries about behaviour and its causes might shed light on what was considered in the past to be called Sin, discoveries about the natural world and the universe might shed light on what it means to talk of creation and discoveries about the causes of disease and the healing process might shed light on sensible ways of using intercessory prayer.
If faith provides motivation for dealing with problems, might science not also assist us in meeting those problems. eg feeding the hungry with better crops, healing the one we pray for with medical discovery. If for example we pray for one who is sick with cancer and we know that conventional treatment has a better success rate than the success rate of prayer for physical healing, should our faith lead us to give practical support for medical science?
Your thoughts?

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6 Responses to A Question to Ponder: Should Science Discovery Alter Faith?

  1. Charles says:

    As a non believer ‘faith’ has no meaning for me. As I understand the general meaning of the word,it is the complete trust or confidence in someone usually God, and the doctrines of a religion based on spiritual beliefs rather than PROOF.As a follower of science it is only scientific fact that determines an outcome,You need nothing else.

  2. peddiebill says:

    Well Charles that might be bad science as well as representing an misunderstanding of religious faith.
    In science our aim is to get a steadily clearer idea of reality. To accomplish this we set up best guesses ( which are our hypotheses). The guesses we trust enough (ie have enough faith in) to try we test but what we discover in this test is not what you claim is scientific fact. In practice what usually happens is that we have now got observations which we didnt have before – therefore a clearer idea about reality. That is the real benefit of testing the hypothesis. ie it gives us new and informative ways of seeing things in new ways and making observations we didnt have before. However the theories in which we had faith are themselves transitory.
    Hence the Greek idea of heavy things falling faster gives way to Newtonian understandings of gravity which in turn give way to Relativistic understandings of motion – and although we now call what we understand a theory of gravitation, in reality we know squat about gravity or why it occurs.
    Faith in religious ideas follows a roughly similiar path. Immature ideas about what is meant by creation morph from a Genesis type myth to an understanding of mysterious principles to do with time and matter and space being interconnected and the God type notion growing exponentially with understandings from science. However my question implies that faith would develop faster if we were more analytic and even more experimental in finding what works. Hence my suggestion we use science to test how prayer affects healing. I personally do not see science replacing religious faith just yet because the two sets of study often work in different areas. eg Jesus talks about the need for compassion. What science fact says this is silly?

  3. Andrew G says:

    “Should science discovery alter faith?”

    Well, it has in the past.
    And, it continues to in the present.

    If faith was seen more as letting go of idols rather than cementing the idols in place (learning from the unknown rather than telling the unknown what to be like) science and religion wouldn’t have any problem with each other.

    Just a thought…

    • peddiebill says:

      I am wondering if the different versions of faith have become mixed up.
      Some have versions of faith which are pleasantly open-minded and open to revision based on evidence from a variety of sources eg science, archeology, historical discovery, linguistics etc – whereas others are closed-minded and see themselves at war with any uncertainties introduced as a result of science discovery. Maybe it is a further manifestation of what Alvin Toffler used to call future shock – with the attendant worries about new ways of thinking – which appears to strike atheists as well as fundamentalists.

      • Andrew G says:

        Definitely mixed up. And it definitely affects all parties in the conversation. Good point, Bill.

        But I think that’s due to the plural nature of how we attach/create/find meaning in things. Any new information carries both threat and promise. It’s a little lopsided and unfair to say that only one specific “true faith”, whatever that is, embraces new information “properly”.

      • peddiebill says:

        The more I learn, the less I realise I know – and I would be most hesitant to suggest there is a true faith. (In fact on this site is a post entitled: So you think you have the one true faith?)Yet as with science there may be a method of discovery which shapes understanding in a more helpful way than at least some of the alternatives.
        In science each time we set up an experiment to test a theory (or current belief) we must have sufficient faith in the theory to believe it to be worth testing. However there is still the requirement that if the experiment shows a serious flaw in the intitial understanding we absolutely MUST be prepared to give some ground on our original
        belief. This is why I personally no longer accept Biblical inerrancy.

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