The recent Earth Day marches for “science” has had me on a science vs. religion train of thought. Don’t misunderstand me. I like science. It was one of my favorite subjects in school. I have been an amateur astronomer in the past. I love studying and learning about nature. I draw the line at letting science supplant God as the center of my faith.
True science and true religion are one. However, science takes time to reveal truth and God takes his time revealing it. We don’t have all the data we’d like to have. We walk by faith.
Science exercise faith. There was an article a few years back where a scientist predicted we would definitely find life in the universe in the next 20 years. That’s a statement of faith. Faith is a belief backed by actions. We spent a lot of money exploring space, looking for life. We have scientists dedicating years of their time looking for signs of life elsewhere–even though we currently have no evidence that life exists elsewhere. We hope there is life out there. We expect to find life out there. The only life we know of is here. What evidence pushes us onward to the tune of spending millions of dollars? None. Looking for extraterrestrial life is an act of faith.
I like the idea of scientists admitting they act on faith and then including God in their efforts. Faith in God holds them accountable to something greater than the people who fund them. It promotes honesty and integrity. A scientist who doesn’t have faith in God will often sell his soul to the highest bidder. It’s like those “scientists” for years who told us that smoking tobacco was harmless. I collect old World War II recordings. The commercials in these shows were embedded into the program scripts in many cases. In one of them, Bing Crosby does a commercial for Chesterfield cigarettes that says they make your breath fresh and that they’re healthy for you. Seriously! You can buy anything in this world for money, including scientists.
There was an article today in the San Diego Union-Tribune stating that higher sodium intake is associated with LOWER blood pressure. For years now, we have been told the opposite. Lots of people have high blood pressure and lots of them live on sodium-restricted diets. Both of these opposing conclusions were arrived at by scientists.
For years, cholesterol was the bad guy. Now it’s less of an issue. Then today, there’s an article in the UK’s Express that reports there is “no association between saturated fat and heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or death.” It’s from one extreme to the other.
There were diets that told us to cut carbohydrates. Then studies showed that low-carb diets were dangerous, especially for children. I could go on an on with the “science” that supported various diet fads” HCG Diet, Paleo Diet, Atkins Diet, Zone Diet, Master Cleanse, South Beach Diet, etc.
Meanwhile, latter day saints have observed a principle called the “Word of Wisdom” for nearly two centuries. This is a health regimen that was given by revelation to a prophet of God. It cautions against using alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. It promotes eating meat sparingly, eating whole grains, and fruit. It promotes an attitude of moderation in all things. Not surprisingly, Mormons have often been used as a control group in medical studies. Just find any academic database of medical studies and type in “latter-day saint” or “Mormon” and you’ll find studies that do this. Why scientists like Mormons as a control group? Overall, there is a uniform healthiness among us and a general conformity to standards of behavior that are informed by our beliefs. Mormons are healthier, live longer, have more children, and are active well into their latter years compared to other populations. We’re a baseline on what life well-lived could be like.
Our health code comes from our religion, not from science.
Again, I’m not discouraging science. Science is important, but scientists are unwise if they represent their system as the only valid way to arrive at truth. Scientists change their minds. They are affected by fads and funding.
The scientific experts of Ignaz Semmelweis’ time drummed him out of the medical profession because he advocated washing hands before examining patients. Doctors in his day used to carve up cadavers to teach students anatomy and then go examine live patients without washing up in between. Patients died of infection. Semmelweis noted that mothers who gave birth assisted by midwives had lower rates of infection and lower infant mortality compared to doctors. The difference, the midwives never touched cadavers. Semmelweis postulated that some unseen particles were being transferred from cadavers to live patients by the doctors. Semmelweis was drummed out of the medical profession, even though he showed that handwashing with a chlorine solution reduced infection rates. Why was he rejected by the medical profession? He dared to blame the doctors for the cause of infection.
Nikolai Tesla had ideas about using “free energy.” He had tested ways of transmitting electrical current through the earth and making it available to everyone. Because his method could not be metered (and thus no company could regulate its distribution and profit from it), corporatists went with Edison’s concepts. When Tesla died, the government seized his work and locked it away. In this case, the most beneficial science was stonewalled in favor of the science that could be used to generate more wealth for the tycoons who controlled the emerging energy sector.
Globalists today are using “climate change” to drive legislation that will literally tax the air you breathe (actually, only the part you exhale). We know that leading scientists in the global warming research faked data. Emails were leaked from East Anglia University scientists in Britain, showing that data that didn’t fit the models was intentionally suppressed. Al Gore’s data has been shown to be wrong. We have evidence of global warming taking place on other planets where we have spacecraft monitoring temperatures. We have data that shows a cooling trend for the past decade, not warming. However, the politics of control and profit are more powerful that most scientists’ integrity.
This would change if scientists believe that there’s a God in heaven who will judge them for their works. The notion of hellfire, even metaphorical, is a strong incentive to be honest and tell the truth. Knowing that an all-seeing God will judge each of us should make us tremble deep down inside. We can’t hide anything from him. He rewards honesty. He forgives sin if we repent. He sends the unrepentant into hell until they repent.
Scientific data doesn’t just evolve naturally. It often swings from one extreme to the other, like the medical findings mentioned above. Pride, ego, and personality comes into play. The debate over whether Pluto is a planet comes down to two rival scientists who are locked in a personal battle against each other. I wrote about this in my blog post, “Truth, Science, and Human Nature.” It’s worth a read. How many other scientific debates are driven by ego, pride, money, or desire for renown?
Last year, a leaked NASA paper showed that scientists are stymied by a new form of rocket propulsion called the EM drive. Despite clear evidence that the engine does what its inventor claims, scientists are resistant to it. Why? Because it defies the laws of physics as we understand them today. Rather than admit that our understanding of physics is demonstrably wrong (because the engine works!), scientists won’t admit that it works until they can rewrite the physics behind it. With this engine, we could build a spaceship that could get to Mars in two weeks, instead of the months it takes to get there now. Like Tesla, the inventor is not going to make any progress until a wealthy corporate benefactor finds a way to profit from owning or controlling it.
The guy who invented the Segway transport, Dean Kamen, holds patents for 440 inventions. Among them was a small device that could have revolutionized the Third World and saved thousands, maybe even millions of lives over time. I saw him demo the device on a TV show. The model was small enough to carry around, but the production model is about the size of a refrigerator. It has a small combustion chamber where a person could burn a small amount of combustible material like dry sticks. The heat produced creates a temperature variation that drives a small pump. It runs a process called vapor compression. The pump can filter approximately 250,000 liters of water a year, making it drinkable. It works with any water source, including sewage. It also produced enough electrical power to electrify a village.
Why hasn’t this invention gone mainstream all over Africa and Asia? It would weaken the death-grip of strongmen and warlords over a population. It decentralizes control. It would make villages independent of large power and utility companies. Right now, the best shot at it going into areas that need it most are being exploited by Coke, the soft-drink maker.
Science is limited by its funding sources. Scientists are beholden to those who pay their grants and employ them. An oil company scientist would find himself on the street if he found a new source of energy that made oil obsolete. A doctor who found a way to treat cancer effectively and cheaply might find his funding withdrawn because of pressure from Big Pharma. Chemotherapy is expensive for patients and profitable for the companies that make the drugs.
Science is constantly updating its knowledge base, but technologies that have military applications might never see the light of day. When you get computer chips on the market nowadays, you can be sure that the military is using something that is a couple generations ahead of what is currently available. What kinds of beneficial technologies are denied the world because there might be a way for an enemy to use it against us?
The scientifically-oriented like to point out the story of Galileo and the Catholic Church’s efforts to intimidate and suppress his findings. I would point out that Roman Catholicism was a product of the Great Apostasy. It was a religion that denied ongoing revelation from God. What you essentially had was a false science that aligned itself politically against a competing science. The same can be said of the advocates of Creationism today. They come from a religious system that denies that God can reveal new truth and they limit themselves to interpreting an ancient collection of texts.
Latter-day saints believe in a living, speaking God who reveals his will to humanity in the current age as well as ancient times. Interestingly, since the First Vision in 1820, just look at the innovation and progress that has been poured out into the world, particularly in fields of transportation and communications. The fields that most especially benefit the spreading of the restored gospel message have experienced stunning advances. Mormons have been involved with many of these innovations.
For now, I find comfort in knowing that the Lord has an open agenda with humanity. He reveals what we need and he can inspire scientific discovery for our benefit. Truth is independent in the sphere in which God has placed it to act, the D&C tells us. It finds its way out eventually. It wants to be known. The wicked can only suppress it so long.
While I am interested in science, I place my faith in God. I’m far from the model believer, but I know in whom I place my trust. The Lord’s track record predictably perfect. Science can be dubious at times. Balanced together, faith and science work well for humanity.