Does science prove everything?

Consider the statement “We should only believe what can be scientifically proven.” Can that statement be scientifically proven? Well obviously not, and thus the scientific naturalist’s position refutes itself, and so it cannot be true. 

Do you deny that science cannot account for everything? Yes, I do deny that science can account for everything. So what can’t it account for? Well, had you brought that up in the debate I had a number of examples that I was going to give. I think there are a good number of things that cannot be scientifically proven but that we’re all rational to accept; Let me list five. 

Logical and mathematical truths cannot be proven by science; science presupposes logic and math, so that to try to prove them by science we’d be arguing in a circle. Metaphysical truths, like there are other minds other than my own, or that the external world is real, or that the past was not created five minutes ago with an appearance of age are rational beliefs that cannot be scientifically proven. 

Ethical beliefs about statements of value are not accessible by the scientific method. You can’t show by science whether the Nazi scientists and the camps did anything evil as opposed to the scientists in Western democracies. Aesthetic judgments, number four, cannot be accessed by the scientific method because the beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven. 

And finally, most remarkably, would be science itself. Science cannot be justified by the scientific method; science is permeated with unprovable assumptions. For example in the special theory of relativity, the whole theory hinges on the assumption that the speed of light is constant in a one-way direction between any two points A and B, but that strictly cannot be proven; we simply have to assume that in order to hold to the theory. So none of these beliefs can be scientifically proven, and yet they are accepted by all of us and we’re rational in doing so. 

Years ago I was speaking in an evangelistic event in Baltimore Maryland and I was told that there was a very vicious atheist who was a get his PhD from Johns Hopkins University and been an engineer for thirty years really hated Christianity and a person was gonna bring his boss to this little evangelistic gathering where I was going to be sharing my faith.  Well I was at the hors d’oeuvre table before the event got going and I saw this gentleman walk in the door with his boss and sure enough they made a beeline to the hors d’oeuvre table. And this friend of mine introduced me to this gentleman and no sooner did we exchange pleasantries when he said well I understand that you’re a philosopher and a theologian and I said well I give it my best shot. And he said I used to be interested in that myself when I was a teenager but I’ve outgrown it now because I realize now that if you can’t test it and quantify your data and measure it in the laboratory it’s nothing but a bunch of idle speculation and hot air. You ever heard anybody expressed that attitude? A lot of people have that attitude and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Well I let him go for about another two minutes and then I interrupt it “Excuse me but I have a question I’m a little bit puzzled. If I understand you correctly if you can’t quantify something in the lab and test it scientifically then the assertion is nothing but idle speculation a bunch of hot air. And he said “That’s absolutely right. I believed this for a long time.” And I said “Well you’ve said 30 or 40 sentences that have come out of your mouth in the last two minutes and of the 30 or 40 things you’ve said I can’t think of a single thing that can be tested scientifically.” I said “If I’m wrong would you show me which statement you’ve made that is scientifically testable but if I’m right you see my dilemma. What you’ve been saying for the last two minutes is nothing but a bunch of …” 

He changed the subject very quickly but the point is that when people tell you that science is the only way we can know things or it’s the only thing that’s true, that statement can’t be true and it can’t be known to be true. And so statements like this are false. Science, ladies and gentlemen is a wonderful gift from God and I’ll say that before I close again. But it is only one way of knowing reality. It’s important but there are many ways to know reality outside of science. In the statement that science is the only way we can know reality is not itself something that can be known by science and it is a self refuting client.