My dad, a scientist, once said, “I don’t need faith, I’ve got knowledge!” I think it was a response to my asking him to have a little faith in me. It was, however, his scientist-mindset that defined and justified–to him–his attitude.
Scientists seek knowledge, or as close as they can get to something they can claim as ‘knowing.’ At the same time, true scientists know they never know enough to say more than, “It looks like this is true with the information we have and the tests we can make.” True science accepts its own limitations and ignorance, and is always about questioning what is ‘known.’
Many things have been challenged and tested enough that they are accepted as facts, though scientists still use the word ‘theory’ when labeling them, always leaving room for new information to change the established understanding. It is a different use of the word from the layman’s concept of ‘theory’ meaning ‘an unproven notion.’ Hence a lot of the confusion over the Theory of Evolution.
So far, no one has been able to present real evidence that evolution is not a fundamental dynamic of life’s functioning. Arguments, sure, and alternate hypotheses–which is the correct scientific term for untested theories–but nothing that stands up to Reality’s tests. In this debate, it isn’t science vs faith, but science on one hand, philosophy on the other.
In fact, my dad didn’t have as much knowledge, or even sufficient knowledge of me, either, as he asserted. Sure, he knew about things I didn’t know, had experiences of life I had not had, but he had not had my experiences, and truth be told, I knew even then a few things he didn’t. In any case, that day he was being clever, not smart, not kind, and his intent was not truth, but shutting me down.
One flaw scientists can fall into is the attitude that even in areas not yet explored, because they are scientists, they are ‘righter’ than anyone else.
People who deride faith are doing the same thing. But the truth is, as much as we can actually know very little, and nothing absolutely in this complex universe, and given our limited human minds, none of us live without faith in something. Some of us believe there is a God; Some of us believe there is no God. But it is still all belief.
I have faith in the essential goodness of human nature, though every day, every minute, someone in this world is doing their level best to prove me wrong. I have faith that there is something greater than myself–greater than human beings, all with supreme awareness, though how I define ‘God’ is not at all what most people mean by ‘God.’ My faith in God’s existence is not faith in any religion or dogma, but in my own experience and pursuit of information. I have faith that many things not now provable or detectable by science will, someday, be detected and tested and explained by scientific method.
“Because God Wants It That Way” is not a statement of faith, it’s a cop-out that settles a matter without any kind of evidence, reasoning, or logic. It’s a conversation-stopper. It is the sound of ears and minds slamming shut, of ignorance claiming victory, of disinterest in learning how the world really is, of disinclination to challenge their truth against Reality.
Every time we say, “I believe…” we make a statement of faith. Since practically everything we claim to know is actually belief, that makes us all people of faith. Even my dad.