/ Mark Loughridge

The Limits of Science

Recently I was reading a book by astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss entitled “A Universe from Nothing”. Krauss is an atheist and isn’t shy about the fact—firmly convinced that matter is all there is. And in the process of seeking to convince us that the universe can and must create itself out of nothing, he says a couple of things which highlight the fact that science has limits when it comes to explaining.

First of all Krauss makes this incredible claim: “Surely ‘nothing’ is every bit as physical as ‘something’, especially if it is to be defined as the ‘absence of something’.”

In an effort to explain how the universe could come from nothing Krauss ends up redefining what the word ‘nothing’ means.

I wonder if he treats his bank account the same way? “Surely Mr Bank Manager, you would have to agree that the ‘nothing’ in my bank account is every bit as physical as the ‘something’ that used to be in it, and that being the case can I use nothing as collateral for a new house?”

He mocks philosophers and theologians for their rigid insistence that nothing must be absolutely nothing, because this is the only way around the colossal questions which even atheist philosophers are asking about how something came from nothing.

As Krauss goes on, he hails the success of science with these words: “Science has been effective at furthering our understanding of nature because the scientific ethos is based on three key principles: (1) follow the evidence wherever it leads; (2) if one has a theory, one needs to be willing to try to prove it wrong as much as one tries to prove that it is right; (3) the ultimate arbiter of truth is experiment.”

If all he was referring to was nature this would be right, but Krauss is arguing that nature is all that there is. He sees science as the tool to understand all reality. So while these principles sound impressive each is ruined by a flaw. The flaw stems from the limitations of science. If “the ultimate arbiter of truth is experiment” that assumes that all truth can be experimented on.

There are many things that are true which cannot be arbitrated by experiment. Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, but how do you prove it experimentally? Historical truth is outside the realms of scientific experiment. What this means is that historical proof, for example, gets sidelined by this view that science is the ultimate explanation of reality.

So in “following the evidence wherever it leads” Krauss will ignore the evidence of history for Jesus, and all the other events of the Bible. They cannot be brought into play because they can’t be experimented on, therefore they don’t qualify as truth. That’s hardly “willing to prove yourself wrong”.

Science is superb, but science doesn’t examine or describe all of reality. That is its limitation. To deny God because of science is like denying the existence of a photographer because we understand how a digital camera works.

Mark Loughridge

Mark Loughridge

Mark pastors 2 churches in the Republic of Ireland. He is married with three daughters. Before entering the ministry he studied architecture. He enjoys open water swimming, design, and watching rugby.

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