"When it comes to facts and explanations of facts, science is the only game in town"
Is this true?
In this episode, host Robert Martin speaks with Rev. Dr. Chris Mulherin (Executive officer of ISCAST) about science, Christianity and how we work out what is true in the world.
Are there limits to science and the scientific method? How do we gain reliable information about the world? Should we live by evidence? We also reflect on a Bible passage and think about one of Jesus' disciple's 'demand' for evidence.
Professor Richard Dawkins was invited to the recording, but he was unable to attend because of health reasons. Hear what Chris would say to Professor Dawkins if they ever had a private word, as we ask him some bigger questions.
Rev. Dr. Chris Mulherin is executive officer of ISCAST - an organisation for Christians in Science and also has a PhD exploring the relationship between science and religion.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
What made you interested in the relationship between science and Christianity?
Interested enough to do a PhD and devote years of your life to it?
Now one of the key promoters of science in the world is atheist Richard Dawkins who claims that science and religion are locked in a mortal conflict. It’s been 10 years since the publication of his best selling book The God Delusion, which has sold over 3 million copies. What did you make of the book?
I’m going to test you on how well you know, ‘the God Delusion’.
The issue - poverty of scientism
So is science the only game in town when it comes to facts and explanations of facts?
What is science?
What other games in town are there when it comes to facts and explanations of facts? Are they legitimate?
Given that knowledge is fallible, does this mean we can’t know anything?
In A Devil’s Chaplain Richard Dawkins explains to his daughter how we gain true knowledge of the world and he describes the scientific method. He says,
Scientists - the specialists in discovering what is true about the world and the universe - work like detectives. They make a guess, called a hypothesis, about what might be true. They then say to themselves: If that were really true, we ought to see so-and-so. This is called a prediction.
Dawkins then outlines how we go on to test predictions and the result of this is ‘evidence’ and evidence is a good reason for believing something. Isn’t the scientific method is a good and reliable way of knowing about the world?
How can we then gain reliable information about the world?
What constitutes good evidence?
Can we live by evidence?
Do you think that people really live by ‘science alone’?
We’re interested to hear about why you believe the Scriptures are worth following. Chris, what convinced you to become a Christian believer?
The Bible acknowledges evidence - John 20
The part of the Bible we’re looking at today is found in The Gospel According to John, one of the four biographies of Jesus that we have. The section we look at today we encounter one of Jesus’ disciples Thomas who was skeptical of the claims of his friends that Jesus had been raised from the dead and they had ‘seen the Lord’. His skepticism is understandable isn’t it?
Thomas demands evidence that Jesus was raised when he says, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ Could you say that Thomas’ demand for this type of evidence scientific? Is this a reasonable level of evidence to demand?
Then a week later Thomas was with the disciples and Jesus appears and says in verse 27 to Thomas,
‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’
Is this good evidence to believe?
It convinces Thomas so that he says, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Do you think this evidence will convince every skeptic?
Now we can’t physically put our hands in Jesus’ side, what do you make of the next statement Jesus makes in verse 29,
‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’?
The Big Question
Chris, we did invite Richard Dawkins to join us here today, but he’s unable to make it because of health reasons. What word do you have for Professor Dawkins. Can we live by science alone?