Nearly a year ago, I came across a website called “The World Question Center.” The site posed the question to scientists around the world, “WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS TRUE EVEN THOUGH YOU CANNOT PROVE IT?” It’s a fascinating question, and I spent days reading through the many responses. Now, Harper Collins has apparently translated the site into a book of the same title. The question poses an interesting challenge in the age of science. For someone who lives by the “proven,” are there questions you still believe, even though you can’t prove it?
Today, we live not just in an age of “science,” but an age of “scientism.” By that I mean we’ve raised science to such a high level that issues of “belief” have been marginalized outside the public square. Science has now been deified. It has become the God of the 21st Century. Unless we can quantify it, or prove it without debate, we can’t discuss it, or at the very least, it can’t be taken seriously. Thus, subjects like religious belief – which of course can’t be “proven,” shouldn’t be considered serious intellectual subjects.
The ongoing debate between evolution and intelligent design is a perfect example. The idea that there are areas of evolution that might not make sense – or at the very least – we don’t understand, should make the exploration of other potential answers critical. But in an age of “scientism,” alternative possibilities can’t even be discussed. The chance of a supreme being triggering the big bang? Something greater than ourselves setting the universe in motion? Nope. Can’t talk about that. Science is supreme, and if we can’t prove it right now, we can’t discuss it publicly. That’s only for the private sphere.
Now, this book reveals, that even scientist have personal “beliefs,” “hunches,” and “intuitions.” We can’t prove everything, and therefore, we’re only closing the doors of possibility when we reject a discussion because we can’t verify it right now. We’ve simply got to get past the fear that there might be ways of knowing outside of what can be proven quantitatively. Otherwise, we’re cheating a generation of students.
What do those pushing scientism on us fear so much? If science is really the pursuit of Truth, then how can we continue to stifle inquiry into areas like intelligent design? If evolution is true (and I’m wide open to explore the possibilities) then it should be able to stand up to vigorous intellectual inquiry. If not, let’s the chips fall where they may.