Should it be called 'Science'? Or should it be called 'reality'?

Nice review! (I’m late to the party here and trying to catch up.)

Early on, @Jay313 draws on an observation from Kinnaman’s book as he notes that…

Younger people have been leaving the faith in increasing numbers for decades, and one of the main reasons is the perceived anti-science mindset of the church.

I’ve been musing about using a better communication strategy in which (I think) it might be best to stop even referring to this alleged opposition as such (between these two parties: church and science under those respective labels) for the reason that, even repetition - even if to debunk, is of marginal value and may even be helping sustain the life of that particular trope.

I wonder if more couldn’t be gained (on the pew side) by highlighting the opposition of so much of the church to the testimony of reality. Science at its best, draws its strength from its dogged rootedness in that reality. Instead of thinking of science as the “sole representative” of said reality (which we unwittingly do by inserting it as the stand-in label for all such reality-based truth pursuit), it might be helpful to point people themselves back to that same strength without necessarily invoking the (as-now-perceived-by-some) partisan label of ‘science’.

All of us, whether we call it ‘science’ or not, are challenged by any good education - secular, catechistic, or otherwise, to have understandings that helps us account for as much observed reality as accurately as possible. Sure, changing labels doesn’t magically solve any problems. We still have so-called “alternate realities” or people disputing even which observed realities are real. But at least there is still the common ground of all sides wanting to be seen as having ‘reality’ on their side, whereas for some, the label of “science” has now been tainted and painted with partisan conspiracy light.

I suggest that it may be a more pointed and effective challenge to replace our charge that “the young are leaving due to anti-science mindset of the church” instead with: “the church’s careless handling of matters of truth” or “the church’s failure to learn from or be corrected by the testimonies of rocks, trees, of reality itself.” It’s a failure to see God’s work as being every bit as true as God’s word. Once evangelicals have sold away the former, they’ve already given away any hope of faithfully handling the latter.


It’s a failure to see God’s work as being every bit as true as God’s word . Once evangelicals have sold away the former, they’ve already given away any hope of faithfully handling the latter.

@Mervin_Bitikofer , I think you have just started a new thread here. There is much to discuss.
I’m very concerned about the extreme direction(s) the so-called “right handling of the word” has taken.


Advice taken! I was worried about it being tangential. Though what I failed to remark on there was that I think Haarsma’s book (based on my reading of Jay’s review of it) would itself be an excellent antidote for all the new new “fact-free” tribes and tribal tendencies.

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Me too.

One of the objections that I can already hear being raised to the assertion:

would be … why not the other way around? I.e. - switching around ‘works’ and ‘word’ - as in that those who have given up accurate understandings of the Bible - why shouldn’t that be considered an insurmountable barrier against any right understanding of everything else?

And the answer to this, I suggest is that our own witness of reality tells us that there are many who have little to no acquaintance with Christian scriptures, who nonetheless can and do produce information and wisdom of truth and value. And as Christians who do draw from the scriptures, we read of many who draw (and even presume of their hearers) common knowledge of shared understandings of the time about reality. Jesus draws on those things in his parables too. And in Romans chapter 1 we are led to believe that the testimony of reality is not be be neglected; in fact - we’re even held responsible for it.

So while I wouldn’t turn it into some contest: which one should be granted authority over the other (a triggering way that this question so often is presented), it is rather that in our human experience of learning anything about reality at all, one of these (our newly minted contact with reality as infants) definitely precedes the other. That doesn’t make the other unimportant. Just as we probably shouldn’t say that arithmetic is more important that calculus just because it must come first. But any math teacher will rightly bristle at the suggestion that those two subjects are in competition with each other for authority. Just because you can’t get to calculus without knowing something of arithmetic first, doesn’t make it into some sort of zero-sum contest for authority. It just means they’re both pretty important for someone who wants to major in math.


Yes. By the very people who warned us growing up about the pernicious dangers of postmodernism and its idea that you could pick your own truth. Now we have Christians defending alternative facts better than any hardcore postmodern.


Not too long ago, on a whim, I posted in another forum for the philosophy of science, the problem science has in determining whether reality is beginning or progressing at the perceived limits of observational verification.

The response was pretty good.

And based on my cursory reading, I have a hunch it’s closely related to the problem of conscious choices and freely determined events.

But where did the title of this thread come from?

Sounds like naturalism.

The thing about talking about “science” is that different people have widely divergent (and often incorrect) ideas about what the word even refers to. (It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear people saying that if something doesn’t allow for multiple different opinions, then it isn’t science.) On the other hand, terms such as facts, objective reality, measurement and evidence are much clearer and much more unambiguous.

Even then, I still find that there are points that I have to hammer home. I have to point out that facts are not opinions, that there are not always two sides to every story, that there is such a thing as objective reality, and that some questions have one right answer and an infinite number of wrong answers, and that the right answer is the same for everyone regardless of worldview. I have to fend off hand-waves that “facts change” or that “people thought that the earth was flat once” or appeals to Galileo. I have to make this point:

And don’t get me started on people who insist that I’m taking the Bible’s demands for accurate and honest weights and measures out of context by applying them to science…


In the UK the young don’t leave church because it fails to be true to the measured first level of reality aka high school science. They leave because it fails to be engaging. It cannot compete. How could it? Many of those who stop attending retain folk religion and acquire more. Why would they want to attend a concert interrupted by a lecture?


That is just totally bizarre. That could only be claimed by someone who never took a science class… (and got a grade in it I suppose). Any science class I ever heard of was about getting the right answer. The above sounds more like philosophy.


love the picture. Now redraw this with a shadow generated from a point source close to the cylinder. should give you an interesting projection.

What’s interesting about total darkness?

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Not sure I understand much of what you wrote. It sounds philosophically edgy.

I made it up (spinning it off from the Book review thread, since it was tangential to that topic). Don’t read too much into the title - it was just reflective of the thought I put out here.

Hear, hear! (and I love that illustration - you’ve shared it before, but I’m glad you put it here again.) The one thing I might add (and the illustration depicts this well), is that even among the multitude of objectively wrong answers, there are still multiple valid (true) perspectives to be had, and a significant part of our partisan tussle is which of those truths should we be attending to? (e.g. should we be attending to the truth that isolation slows down the spread of a virus variant? Or should we be attending to the truth that isolation has economic, social, and educational costs?) Those are valid perspectives that we can pick and choose among according to our own experiences and needs.

Interesting way to put that thought - I like it.


Martin, I would state my observation similarly, but likely intend a somewhat different meaning. If you don’t mind, what do you mean by “folk religion”? Thanks

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It seems to come most frequently from climate change deniers.

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Climate deniers are definitely part of the group. Can we also consider other folks I know (am related to), who have been saying the same things about everything related to covid, alternative medicine, and vaccinations? And then also alternative energy sources, environmentalism, … (and as the old K-Tel Record commercials used to say:) “and much, much more!”

I believe the motivation behind this demand for multiple different opinions is a desire to have THEIR pet opinion included as a valid option. They will grudgingly allow you your (consensus-science-supported) “opinion”, as long your holding it does not interfere with the exercise of actions based on their beliefs.

@mitchellmckain, this is not a question of philosophy, but rather psychology, and more widely of sociology. This has to do with being right on one’s own terms. We could also throw in analysis of power relationships and Two Kingdoms Theology.

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The informal stuff that goes along with the creeds, doctrinal statements, catechisms, ritual, history, theology; cultural, superstitious accretions, the stuff that’s left when you stop going, reading.

Boy, I am glad I pick just this day t come back to the forum! (Hi @Mervin_Bitikofer ! Long time no see!)

My soap box has been our totally deficient doctrine of General Revelation. Our rational giftedness to see and process our Elohim God-created Cosmos is basic to understanding the world we live in. Without embracing Rational Science Christianity becomes mythology as it is entirely spiritualized, with is what the Evangelicals are doing! And boy, and I a died in the wool, but converted Evangleical! What about this is so hard to understand?

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Welcome back then! Plenty of soap boxes to go around. Will have to meditate on your thoughts a bit. Gotta go for now.

There shouldn’t be anything edgy or controversial about conscious choices and freely determined events :sunglasses:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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