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Published on March 07, 2022

Why Trust Science?

For centuries, science has increased our understanding of the world around us, yet for some, science feels untrustworthy.So how do we discern when science is credible?

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For centuries, science has increased our understanding of the world around us, yet for some, science feels untrustworthy.So how do we discern when science is credible?

For centuries, science has increased our understanding of the world around us, yet for some, science feels untrustworthy. But we can discern when science is credible by understanding when scientists are working within their field of expertise, checking their work with others, and whether a particular finding builds upon the confidence that comes from a multitude of data and a community of those searching for truth.


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Transcript

What does a scientist look like? What does a scientist do? Well, a scientist could look like this, or this, this, or this. And each scientist could do so many different things: like this, or this, or even…this. For centuries, science and scientists have increased our understanding of the world around us and our understanding of God’s creation. Yet for some, science feels untrustworthy. When scientists exhibit prejudice, behave unethically, or claim to disprove the existence of God, it can be tempting to then mistrust all science and scientists alike. So how do we discern when science is credible? One way is to consider a scientist’s area of training and expertise. Is a marine biologist making claims about coral reefs, or attempting to explain the philosophy of human suffering? Every scientist has a specific field of study, one to which they’ve dedicated years of investigation and analysis. So when a scientist publishes findings in their own field, it carries a lot of credibility. But if, say, a botanist claims all religion is harmful…they are speaking outside of their area of expertise, and accordingly outside of the credibility of science. Additionally scientists, like anyone else, can be too committed to their favorite idea, however, when many scientists test and review each other’s work, errors are often found and corrected, making the findings more reliable. Consensus isn’t foolproof, but the inclusion of multiple and varied perspectives decreases the likelihood that any one individual’s viewpoint might bias the results. Which gets to the heart of what motivates many scientists the most, and is encouraging for people of faith: scientists want to know what’s true. In this pursuit of truth, there are things about which science is confident and then other things—like new treatments for cancer, the intricate workings of the human brain, or the life forms in the deep ocean—for which our scientific understanding is still developing. In areas like these, science will in fact be wrong sometimes. This isn’t a sign of untrustworthiness so much as a reminder that we must remain open as scientists continue to learn and discover more. What, then, does science give us? Through the work of scientists studying what God has made, speaking from within their unique expertise, and checking their work with others, we are able to understand the world around us, and in the understanding we are able to expand our sense of wonder at all God has made.