It is sometimes asserted that you must have faith to believe in science because we don’t have an answer for everything. Well, to an extent this is true. However, it is the best we have. Further, it is by far the best we have.
How do I know this? It’s based on the idea that trustworthiness of an argument comes from how deeply you can question the presuppositions before coming to an “I don’t know” answer. The trustworthiness of science in this regard is always many levels greater than religion. Let’s compare the two. Now, every assertion can have multiple questions, such as “Why is that,” or “How do you know that,” and so on. For the purpose of simplicity, I will only take one route to the foundational presuppositions of each assertion.
Assertion: “Water can be used as a fuel for a power source known as hydrogen power.”
Question: “How do you know this?”
Presupposition: “Because water contains two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and pure hydrogen can be used as a power source”
Q: “How do you know water has two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen?”
P: “Because the atomic theory has helped us come to this conclusion through many different forms of experimentation.”
Q: “How do you know experimentation will prove something?”
P: “Because this is what the scientific method states.”
Q: “How do you know the scientific method is effective?”
P: “Because it allows us to see repeatable results in experiments.”
Q: “How do you know that repeatable results is a good thing?”
P: “Because it allows us to see order in the universe so that we can understand it.”
Q: “How do you know that seeing order indicates anything?”
P: “Because discovering order allows us to make predictions. If something always happens, we can assume it will happen again and again so long as the variables are the same.”
Q: “How do you know that all experiments thus far have just by chance all worked out the way you expected?”
A: “We don’t know that.”
* I am not a scientist. There may actually be silly mistakes here, and I may have missed possible steps. My main point is to show that there are at least six levels of understanding that science has achieved in this particular case.
Assertion: “Jesus turned water into wine.”
Question: “How do you know that?”
Presupposition: “Because the Bible says so.”
Question: “How do you know that the Bible is correct?”
Presupposition: “Because God made it.
Question: “How do you know God made it?”
Answer: “We have faith that He made it.”
In this case, there are only two levels of presuppositions. The only evidence provided is the Bible. In the science example, the amount of evidence that has been provided for the six steps I mentioned is an enormously large amount. It entails all the evidence we have achieved since the beginnings of the scientific method along this particular question’s path.
Further, the depth of research required as one moves up this ladder of knowledge increases dramatically. It requires much more evidence to show that water is two parts hydrogen and one part water than it does to explain why repeatable results are useful.
Biblical study can never go beyond the God question, unfortunately because God is supposedly infinite. He is beyond inquiry. Therefore, the conversation always stops there. This is not an intellectual way to view the world.
The fact is, science is always pushing the boundaries of these levels, in both directions; while religion is stultified.
Of course, the more times you ask, “How do you know that?” kind of questions, as any parent of a 2-year old will know, to more abstract the answer becomes, to the point where it doesn’t really make sense to be asking the question anymore. This happens in the science example above.
I remember a great Louis C.K. skit on this, seen here, where his daughter keeps asking “Why?” and it humorously demonstrates the ridiculousness of this situation. It starts around the 7 minute mark.