The Scientific Method and Heavenly Revelation…

skull

I noticed and read a story yesterday morning regarding the recent discovery of a skull that dates back about 1.8 million years. It is a pretty interesting find, and more than that, it may change the view we have of Homo-erectus and related “cousins”. I love reading about scientific successes, and this is a good one. But a sentence at the bottom of the story caught my attention and brought me back to a theme I’ve been mulling over for the last few months. Here’s the sentence from Prof. Lee Berger (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg):

Any time a scientist says ‘we’ve got this figured out’ they are probably wrong. It’s not the end of the story.

I appreciate the reality of this quote. If one were to rely completely on what science deems “truth”, we would eventually be, well, “probably wrong”. Now, this is not an anti-science post at all. Again, I love science. I love scientific research. In fact, I’m often inspired by research that sheds light on another aspect of the universe, earth, humans, animals, and the relationship between all of them. I particularly enjoy research regarding the creation of universe and the development of earth life. I think science and religion go together.

With that said*, science goes about answering different questions than religion, and goes about finding the answers to those questions differently than religion.

I’ve already posted about this, so I’m going to go just a little different direction. As I’ve stated before, some things can’t be discovered, but instead need to be revealed from a kind and loving Heavenly Father through the medium of His Holy Spirit. Put another way, some truths are found through searching horizontally, and some truths are found through searching vertically. See the illustration somewhere by this part of the post? It depicts two different directions that we can go for truth.

When we look around and search for truth using the opinions of others, the Scientific Method, Google or Bing, the media, or popular views of the day, we are searching horizontally. Certainly, some things are best found out by searching horizontally. On the other hand, when we, often after some good hard horizontal searching, ask God through prayer or seek answers through other heavenly-related mediums (scriptures, words of prophets, etc.), we are searching vertically.

Horizontal and vertical learning and searching aren’t diametrically opposed. They often strengthen one another. Both are important and needed. But when we rely completely on horizontal learning, we run a risk. The risk is that horizontally-acquired truth is subject to change. It is never the “end of the story”. I believe that God is often more likely to answer one’s prayer when he or she has paid a price to search horizontally to begin with. Do your homework. Find out what the brightest minds think. Talk to those who care about you. There does come a time, though, when one needs to begin asking God. This is especially true when it comes to questions regarding God’s laws, morality, eternal truth and spiritual living. You really can’t determine God’s view of family, marriage, and morality using the latest surveys of people. You’d be asking the wrong people…

I’m going to finish by asking you to watch one very short video. Well, it is 4:57, which is relatively short. While you are watching, please try to notice the difference between horizontal and vertical learning. You’ll realize when the young women determines that her questions need answering from above. If you feel a desire, you ought to “share” this video with others…

I’m curious. How are you doing at searching vertically?

Be encouraging,

BJM

*I don’t want to use the word “but” at this point in the post, even though that’s probably the best word. The word “but” often negates what was just shared and I don’t think what I’m saying after this part negates what I’ve shared before this part…
 
These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...
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One thought on “The Scientific Method and Heavenly Revelation…

  1. sheaf

    It seems as though you’re trying to place two different methods of discovering truth in separate bubbles, as though they cannot be compared and contrasted. I’m glad that you love science and the scientific method, but you don’t really seem to understand the principles behind it.

    Humans are subject to biases, emotions, cultural traditions, and a host of other problems when analyzing something. We impose our subjective views, based on countless personal factors, on how we perceive truth. The beauty of the scientific method is that it is fantastic for eliminating those factors and biases. It relies on repeatable, testable evidence devoid of subjective influences. It allows itself to be discussed, dissected, criticized, and even ridiculed. When Einstein exposed the flaws in Newton’s laws of motions, he became a scientific hero.

    Religion, on the other hand, is all too prone to biases. There are three main factors to determining what religion a person will adhere to: time period, location, and parental beliefs. Doesn’t that tell us something, that a person’s religion is most often due to chance rather than discovery of truth? Humans are invariably influenced tremendously by what they learn when they are children.

    Looking at the countless religions around the world should be telling for anyone interested in discovering truth. The fact that they are mutually exclusive should be absolutely frightening to any religious adherent. How can one be certain, or as a Mormon might say “know”, if this method for discovering truth is so wildly inconsistent? Your so-called vertical method of searching for truth has, by any account, led to billions of people being wrong about something so fundamental.

    Even if Mormonism was correct, it currently accounts for just 0.03% of the world’s population. Or in other words: if Mormonism was correct, 99.97% of the world would be wrong about religion. What causes religious searching to be so inaccurate? Here are a few reasons:

    – It discourages doubt and skepticism
    – It is willing to ignore contrary evidence
    – Instead of depending on objective evidence, it values subjective emotional responses
    – It places religious leaders above reproach
    – It works to control access to information, rather than embracing truth from any source

    Reply

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