A friend of mine, a philosophical materialist, was making fun of a weekend headline on the lines of "Pope says don't trust science." The headline disappeared, and it turns out that the Pope was saying that we should not let the success of science and materialism blind us to the truth of the gospel – or that's how I understood the newpaper accounts.
My friend asserts that the world is complete with science. But here are three places science itself acknoweldges it cannot go:
- Science can't see beneath the covers of the uncertainty principle. This is a scientific principle that says that there are pairs of things which can only be measured roughly – things like position and momentum, time and energy, etc. The details aren't important here, and they are certainly beyond me, but the point is: there are physical things that are fundamentally unmeasureable. Science discovered that itself.
- Science can't see what it can't measure. The neutrino is a particle that barely interacts with matter. Cosmologists posit "dark matter," a kind of matter that only interacts with other matter gravitationally. These are at the edge of measureability. But imagine matter that doesn't interact with ordinary matter at all. It might well exist, theories might even predict its existence, but without measureability, science can do nothing with it.
- Most important though is that science can make nothing of right and wrong. Science can measure one's adherence to one's ethical system, it might predict the likelihood of getting caught in graft or the deterring power of capital punishment, but it cannot say whether either graft or capital punishment are right or wrong. It's all opaque. Unlike what my friend believes, you can't derive an ethical system from science without starting out with preconceptions.
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor:20-25)
God shows us his subtlety, his wisdom and his power in the study of his creation through science. At the same time, he as crippled and confined it, I suppose so that we might not worship it or glorify ourselves through it. Those who believe that science and materialism are the end of all things deceive themselves. For all that is most important – our dealings with God and with men – we must go to the Bible.