Faith in Science

I have just finished reading Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I’m not sure I ‘get’ all of it and I need to read it a second time at some later stage. However, this quote caught my attention:

The man who embraces a new paradigm at an early stage must often do so in defiance of the evidence provided by problem-solving*. He must, that is, have faith that the new paradigm will succeed with the many large problems that confront it, knowing only that the older paradigm has failed with a few. A decision of that kind can only be made on faith.
(U. of Chicago Press, 3rd Ed., 1996, p.158)

Now, in the light of current discussion on the merits of Intelligent Design, it is tempting to try to make a lot of hay with this statement, but I must resist (if for no other reason than that I need to understand Kuhn better). Nevertheless, Kuhn hits on something which seems to me to be particularly important for the scientist to consider: faith (of a kind) is vital to making significant scientific progress. It seems to me that any scientist who genuinely believes that science is ‘only based on data’ is unlikely to be a scientist who will make an important impact in his field.

* ‘Problem-solving’ is what Kuhn regards as ‘normal science’ – the process of conducting science within an established paradigm to explore where the paradigm seems to fail.

Faith in Science

Trinitarian Resurrection

Even though Christmas is coming and it is a time where most reflect on the incarnation of Christ, for some reason I have been thinking about his resurrection.

Once I had a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness about the resurrection of Christ. She asked me, “Who raised him from the dead?” I started by saying, “Well, the Father…”, and I was intending to go on and say, “…the Son, and the Spirit” followed by some verses, but did not get that far because at that point she said, “Aha! See! How can Jesus be God, then?”

Well, let me give you some verses:

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead (Galatians 1:1)

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (John 10:17,18)

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)

Amazing! The resurrection was a thoroughly Trinitarian event – Father, Son and Spirit acting in perfect harmony to bring life to Jesus’ dead body.

Honestly, this woman had not noticed these verses before.

Trinitarian Resurrection

Book on the Trinity

The Three Are One
by Stuart Olyott (Evangelical Press, 1979) 128pp.

I have heard it said that all Sunday School illustrations of the Trinity are heretical. Who hasn’t, at some point, tried to illustrate this great doctrine by reference to H2O: three states (ice, water, steam) yet one kind of “stuff”? However, it does not illustrate the Trinity so much as the heresy of modalism. Poor unsuspecting Sunday School teacher!

Let’s face it: understanding the Trinity is hard. God is not like us. We have no really good everyday analogies to work with to do justice to God’s being. And I know loads of people who simply give up and don’t even know what the Bible says about this any more!

However, help is at hand. I read this little book this morning. Though it is 128pp officially, it is only 94pp of reading, and all of it simply presented. It makes the case for the oneness of God, the deity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, what the relationship is between these three Persons, errors that can be fallen into, and finally, what this means for us as Christians.

A great primer for a great doctrine, well worth having on your shelf and on your church’s bookstall.

(I hope one can still get it. Amazon lists it but does not sell it. I got a batch from ICM Books.)

Book on the Trinity

Beware the Centre


Like most people we are always getting junk through the mail advertising shops, products, financial “solutions” etc etc. The ones that make me groan inwardly are those establishments that call themselves something like Land of Da-di-da or Dum-di-dum World. I guess they want us to believe these are places full of wonders untold, and entering it is like walking into Lewis’s Wardrobe. The trouble is when you get there, you find it’s … well … a shop. They have stuff. You have money. They want your money. Do you want their stuff? Nothing wondrous here.

Even bigger groans are stimulated over places which call themselves something like The Diddley-dee Centre. This conveys the idea that ultimately all roads lead to this place. There may be other places but this … this is the place – the Centre. Trouble is, when you get there, it’s … like … a shop. And not very big. They have stuff, you have… etc.

So, I’m a cynical old so and so. If I see a “centre” I expect to be disappointed.

Why am I telling you this? Well, you may have heard of the The British Centre for Science Education. Some key figures have been writing letters to the national papers over the last few weeks. But sounds great place though, doesn’t it? A centre for science education – in Britain! Sounds like a place that lots of well qualified scientists and educators speak to one another with scholarly moderation, examine the facts, conduct careful research, proposing rational approaches to educating our children in the issues of science, especially as it relates to issues of faith and culture. Let’s go!

Well, hold on a minute! (It is a “centre” after all – Antennae Up!) Yes, it is disappointing. My mate David has been examining the claims and approaches of the BCSE over the last few weeks and has found that none of these things above are true. Look, for example, at his critique today of the standards of their own research.

If you have an interest in the ID/evolution debate here in the UK, David’s site is well worth spending time in. Not only does he challenge the assertions of the BCSE (for that seems to be all BCSE produces), but, more broadly, his site is an excellent example of care, logical reasoning, attention to sources, humility (he has and will retract and correct inaccuracies), in dealing with fundamentalist evolutionists who seem to have forgotten how to reason and so cannot see the logical conclusions of their own position.

Beware the Centre