Science and Philosophy have their own standard: 100% Part 10 of Why Pray?
Science, philosophy and religion – different assessments
Science demands that studies be 100% replicable (capable of being replicated exactly). Philosophy can be harsh too, and it’s closer to our way of thinking.
The philosophers’ spoiler tool Reduction to the absurd (reduction to absurdity to find the contradiction), is itself absurd when applied to life and prayer. Real life is not 100% about anything. Life is messy and contains too many variables besides spiritual ones. Yet how many of us practice this thought in our daily lives? We find that our prayer has not worked, so we think that prayer is not working and that there is no God? Nothing, not even hard science, is without flaws, contradictions, and is not always reproducible.
Reality: Prayer does not always achieve the desired result. I keep telling people that life isn’t like that. Life is not lived at the extremes of 0 and 100. Some philosophers, statisticians and scientists like to point out poor results and say of themselves that science is reproducible with the same result every time, they forget the exceptions in their study. own work which they believe does not prove their theory incorrect. So anything that is not 100% is hokum. And if they can’t put it under a microscope and look at it, it doesn’t exist.
Here’s the scientific reality: science doesn’t know what more than 90% of the universe is made of. Scientists hypothesize that there is dark matter and dark energy, which is an exciting area of research. But so far there is no proof. But with all this uncertainty, scientists can still send spacecraft into space. Their formulas still work even if they have to use constants for the unknowns.
Science seeks what it wants to find
Without any proof, scientists have searched endlessly for the theoretical particle of the Higgs boson, AKA the “divine particle”. No experiment had observed the Higgs boson to confirm the theory, but they thought it must be there. A massive scalar boson with zero spin and no electric charge, the particle helps give mass to all elementary particles that have mass, like electrons and protons. It was elusive. But science seems to find what it is looking for, or to refute the theory. At CERN’s particle accelerator, they finally found the Higgs boson.
Faith also finds what she is looking for
In faith we also find what we are looking for, to prove or disprove our belief. I like to say from my studies of the teachings of Jesus that what he meant by “this is very true” was not that it was the truth of science or philosophy, but that you can count on what he said. It is reliable in life.
The essence of Jesus’ teachings is love. Almost everyone responds positively to love. There are a few who don’t: maybe psychopaths and narcissists. And people who learned in their childhood to be wary of others. So, are Jesus’ ways 100%? One hundred percent is not the right standard of living. It is like saying that automobiles are not 100% reliable because you could run over a nail and puncture a tire. This does not prevent people from relying on the automobile to get around. This does not prevent scientists from depending on automobiles to make them work.
Faith is trust in what we believe to be true, not science
Faith is trust in the invisible. “… The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11: 1, NAS). But it is not “blind”. Blind faith is not a term found in the Bible, it is a rather contemptuous term often used to denigrate religious people.
Faith is not built on fiction. Knowing the “truth” does not destroy faith. He purifies it.
Faith is learned trust. Our lived experience proves the truth. Judaism, Christianity and many other religions are propelled into people’s lives throughout history, not because they are practical myths used as crutches, not because people take a ‘leap of faith’. but because they are put to the test in people’s lives. and found to work. If they didn’t, they would soon go away like most myths. The ancients mostly stopped trying to appease the gods through human sacrifice because nothing changed when they sacrificed, people noted failure, thought sacrificing people was horrible and ceased.
People no longer worship the ancient Greek god Zeus and this pantheon. While still popular in mythology, actual worship ended around 1,600 years ago. Baal was worshiped by the Canaanites, and later by the Egyptians, but this ended around 1075 BCE. Religions that don’t work cease to be.
Evidence of the effects of prayer comes to us in our own lives. We keep what works. When looking for golden nuggets of wisdom, you are not throwing the gold with the dirty water. You keep the gold.
Comparing the Expectations of Science and Religion Adds Some Perspective
The question becomes: does prayer work in one form or another with statistically significant results and a reason for hope? We need hope. Sometimes we need a helping hand. Despite this there is always someone doing the opposite research and using the wrong methodologies to get the results they want, we can say yes because we prove it in our own lives. We usually don’t go to praying to the elderly who are dying in good health, but it does influence a lot of things. This is our lived experience. It’s part of our faith.
We need to keep in perspective what science is and what religion and faith are. They operate in two very different areas.
Pray and continue to communicate with God. That works.
Science has no clear idea of what constitutes over 90% of the universe, but demands 100% replication of religion. But science devotes an enormous amount of time and attention to discovering things that it supposes to be there, and then finds them. Yet some scientists ridicule religion.
Faith also finds what she is looking for, depending on what works.
Pray and continue to communicate with God. That works.
Next in the series
Prayer works. Part 11 of Why Pray?
Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world a better place.
Other Patheos Writers on Prayer