The Farnsworth Problem

There’s no scientific consensus that life is important. – Professor Farnsworth

In last week’s Science & Faith lesson, I showed a clip from Futurama. The video is succinctly summarized in the statement above, and it is this idea that brings me to one of the greatest issues we face when we engage in the whole “science vs. faith” discussion.

Science does not, and cannot, determine the meaning of our life.

Now, there are good scientists out there who understand this, and routinely engage with various worldviews to figure out what life is really “all about.” And there are scientists out there who are very good at what they do, but lose sight of purpose when they try to draw meaning from their research. There is a third category I want to discuss, and I think it is far more detrimental. You see, there are Christians out there who demand that science determine meaning, and therefore refute science when it can’t. In essence, this last group requires science to tell us how things work, and at the same time why that gives meaning to the working. But science isn’t a worldview, it’s a discipline of study and research. Once a scientist explains the how, their job is essentially done. The why? That falls to the realm of faith.

The danger we often find ourselves in is this: we hold science to a standard that only belongs to the realm of faith. This is one reason why so many young people leave the church (and you can read more about this here). We have to learn how to interact with science, without holding it to the same standard as revelation.

I think this is such a critical component of studying anything that falls outside the realm of “the Bible.” If we believe that the Bible is a special insight into who God is, then can we really expect anything else to come close to that? I don’t think we should, even if we could.

I welcome thoughts.


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