Posted by: LucidMystery | March 24, 2009

The Scientific Method: A Dogma of Its Own

I hear about the scientific method a lot. Of course, in my line of work as a bio grad student, this makes perfect sense. Within academia, the scientific method is hailed as the only way to find real solutions to real questions. As an undergrad, it was beaten into my head with such force that I would never have forgotten it–even without continuing on. If science is a worldview, then the scientific method is it’s dogma.

For all its praise, though, I just want to say that science will never solve all of nature’s mysteries because the scientific method has one huge flaw. For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, this is a basic order of events that make up the scientific method:

1.) Make an observation

2.) Make a hypothesis based on said observation

3.) Formulate an experiment to test hypothesis

4.) Cycle through the process of refining the hypothesis and redesigning/repeating the experiment

5.) Draw conclusion based on evidence from the experiment

6.) Eventually dub the hypothesis a theory (actually quite a feat to reach this point; saying “just a theory” is not a good rebuttal for anything.)

The flaw in this is that the scientific method is based completely on our own intellect, and I’m not so foolhardy as to suggest that we humans have it figured out. Good grief, look at scientific journals from ten years ago, and we’re already light years away! Back when I was a freshmen, I wasn’t even allowed to look at literature more than two years old, and many biology textbooks today are out of date before they go to print! Since our knowledge is constantly changing, and the universe is–for lack of more impressive wording–unfathomably huge, I think we need to be very careful whenever we claim to have any/all of the answers. Unless we want to look as smart as the ancient Egyptians who claimed with assertion that the human brain served no function. (And don’t say we don’t make mistakes like that anymore! It was within the last decade that we realized that tonsils and the appendix actually do have purposes!)

If you’re reading this blog, and you don’t know me, you might think I hate science at this point. On the contrary, I love it! But to quote Adrienne Rich: “To love a human face was to discover the cracks of paint and varnish on the brow.” So science isn’t a person, but the gist of it is true. When you love almost anything (and I genuinely mean love, not starry-eyed infatuation), you get close enough to discover its flaws. Those who don’t see flaws in science are kidding themselves because, for some, the scientific method is all they have to ground them in reality.

You could probably try to make the same argument against me, though, saying that if I love God enough, I should see His flaws. You might also say that if I retort that God has no flaws, that I’m contradicting myself. Well, I’ll have to accept that as your rebuttal, but I don’t think God is flawed. I think He does things I don’t like and don’t understand. But He’s the one Constant. Science is different today than it was yesterday. People are discovering new species, understanding new processes, and updating old ideas all the time in science. I can’t put all my trust in something so temporal or something that is based on my own reasoning. I don’t understand all of God, and I never will! But I trust that fact more than the scientific method.

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Responses

  1. thank you for writing this! i love u! so many people fail to realize this.

    Like

  2. Thank you for putting into words what I have been unable to for so long. It is sad that so many within the scientific community today refuse to repect (or even fail to realize) the truths that you speak of. These truths need more voice, recognition and representation… now more than ever.

    Like


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