John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris: Scientists Must Recognize the Limits of Science

C. S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters” has a lot of amazing insights on the working of our enemy, but one of my favorites occurs when the demon undersecretary advises his nephew: “Above all, do not attempt to use science…as a defence against Christianity. [It] will positively encourage [your patient] to think about realities he can’t touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists.”

Of course, what Uncle Screwtape calls “sad cases” are wins for Christianity! One such case is Dartmouth theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser, who was recently profiled by Scientific American. Gleiser is known for studying the properties of the early universe, the behavior of fundamental particles, and the origin of life—in other words, he’s studying those realities we can’t touch or see that Screwtape mentioned.

To be clear, Gleiser calls himself an agnostic, not a Christian. Still, he’s the latest recipient of the Templeton Prize—awarded to individuals who have made “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” The reason is simple: Gleiser, unlike many science popularizers in our day, boldly admits that science has its limits and urges his fellow scientists to respect those limits.

There’s a metaphor he uses to illustrate this, which he calls the Island of Knowledge. It’s also the title of a book he’s written. He urges us all to imagine all the discoveries of science as a small island, surrounded by an ocean of the unknown. “The paradox of knowledge,” he observes, “is that as it expands and the boundary between the known and the unknown changes, you inevitably start to ask questions that you couldn’t even ask before.”

In other words, science is so limited that not only are there many things we don’t know, we don’t even know how much we don’t know! Thus, the very best scientists are humble—recognizing the limits of their discipline and understanding that science cannot offer answers about ultimate meaning, purpose, or moral truth.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris