I Believe in Science!

I just started writing a science fiction novel.  With writing in a new genre comes research and new things begin to stand out more than normal. Many times, I come across either memes on social media or blog posts declaring that a person or group “believes in science.” I find this to be rather odd.

I’ve never read about, met, or otherwise known of anyone who doesn’t believe in the process of coming up with a hypothesis and testing it to see if the results are not only possible but repeatable.  Despite what some may think, I am not sure there are many worldviews that are actively against believing in such processes.  Of course, I’m not an idiot and know that this declaration is meant to counter what the scientific community’s stances are on evolution and climate change.  More accurately, “I believe in science!” is a statement that has baggage which indirectly is sometimes used to discredit “religious” beliefs.  Not always, but it is true rather often.

As a Christian who accepts the scientific findings, I am all too aware that the culture that surrounds my faith is known for rejecting things that appear painfully obvious to those who do not adhere to Christianity.  I would argue that such an instance isn’t about rejecting science, but instead scientists’ findings and claims.  Those who announce their love for science claim those who do not fully accept climate change and evolution to be real fail to understand or believe science at all.  Those on the receiving side of those arguments say that there are things science cannot answer and can and has been wrong before.  “Religious” folks do not see it as rejecting science as a process.  Many of them believe science supports other ideas than what are mainstream.  Instead they reject common belief due to worldviews and that history has shown that scientists have been wrong before.  Do I as a Christian agree with this position?  Not entirely.  Yes, scientific consensus has been wrong in the past and until more information comes to light we might find out that is the case now as well.  That is the nature and beauty of science.  However, where I disagree is to use that as a catch all to simply justify preconceptions and therefore reject an idea even when heaps upon heaps of evidence, peer reviews, and testable evidence support a theory.

This topic ties into my previous blog post about truth.  People believe what they want to believe no matter what evidence is given.  One must not only be open-minded but have a worldview that doesn’t crumble simply because something is uncomfortable.  This is true on all matters, not just heavy topics like climate change.  Another thing that would help would be for both believers and non-believers to acknowledge that science and faith are not incompatible.  Certainly, they are if either are layered with presuppositions, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  Ultimately, believing in science does not equate believing in scientific claims.  The process and the results are different.  Political and religious worldviews shape how we interpret these claims.  I would argue both political sides ignore important scientific truths.  The reality is we must do our best to curb our natural human bias with discernment.  This is possible, but a difficult endeavor.

Emotions or Rationality?

In our era of skepticism, cold, unadulterated rationality is often valued.  Science has lifted the curtain on certain superstitions and wives’ tales.  Most people in the modern western world strive to be rational, and scientific.  We don’t want to be like our ancestors that believed diseases were cause by curses.  Most of the time we try to bring that rationality into our everyday lives, particularly our relationships.  But just how rational are we as a species?  Everyone knows that humans are biased, yet there is more to it than that.  I believe people are emotional first and rational second.

Whether we realized it or not, we are emotionally invested into the world around us.  I theorize that our emotional connections to things run far deeper than any of us realize.  Emotions are what drive us, what connects us to our beliefs, I wager far more than any evidence or rationality.  Emotions are not bad things and how they intertwine with our beliefs can be beneficial, for example it can drive us to learn why we believe what we believe.  Rationality too can intermingle with emotion and help us see whether we believe something simply because we want to or if there is evidence to support it.

Emotion, dare I say, contributes to our openness and willingness to accept rational thinking and beliefs.  If we have a strong emotional attachment to the truth, we I’ll search for it ourselves, despite what common consensus may say.  Therefore, being emotional beings isn’t always a bad thing, but I feel it is something we must be aware of.

In the spirit of Halloween

Throughout history people have claimed to see the unexplained and the mysterious.  Some things have been explained by science.  Where superstition has filled the gaps we now can test and come to concrete answers.  With the dawn of the scientific age, knowledge is no longer hidden in the shadows.  Not only has science blown the lid off superstitions but it has provided better medicine and knowledge of biology, the earth, and universe.  Science has become such a powerful tool of discovery that some proclaim all mysteries will one day become answered through this process.  However, this powerful tool has made some become arrogant.

Some assume things like ghosts, angels, and demons are nothing more than silly superstitions.  The things that people see that they cannot explain are their imagination, illusions, or hallucinations.  I find this to be incredibly arrogant.  It lacks nuance, and is frankly dishonest with some of the evidence presented.  Now, I do acknowledge that some cases, maybe most, can be explained by natural phenomenon.  An unknown breeze, alcohol, or drugs are all possibilities.  The easiest way to not think is to completely dismiss or believe all these stories.  Those who claim it is all nonsense fail to take into consideration there are many spiritual encounters that have incredible consistency.  For example, those terrorized by demons often exhibit claw marks of three in places they cannot reach or are terrorized at 3:00 AM.  That of course isn’t hardened scientific proof, I do acknowledge that. However, mass hallucinations do not exist, and if multiple people report the same thing with detailed accounts, I believe they should be considered.

Speaking from experience, those who have encounters with the supernatural often feel isolated, that we cannot talk to anyone or they will think we are crazy or superstitious nuts.  I’m one who is knowledgeable of science, what the mind is capable of and the tricks it can play, and look for other explanations before jumping to conclusions.  However, in this world there is evil and sometimes that evil defies naturalism. In spirit of the holiday, if there is someone you know that shares a paranormal encounter, listen.  You can choose what to do with the information, but at least listen.  Maybe just maybe they aren’t crazy and there is a reason you are hearing this story.

The Strange World

The orange and green sphere gradually enlarged before the woman’s cockpit.  She pulled down on the throttle, and the whine of the engines subsided to a barely audible din. “There it is, finally,” she breathed, shifting in her seat. “Hopefully the air is breathable, I need to stretch my legs.”  The triangular wing of her craft reflected the nearby star’s light, into her face.  The woman raised her hand to shield her eyes while she arced her vehicle so the light wasn’t as much of a problem.

“That has to be a body of water,” she changed the direction the craft was heading again toward a blue-green stain on the sphere.  The star ship’s pointed nose arced down through the atmosphere, flames licked the black shiny hull of the vehicle, the woman eyed the orange and red tongues, but her face remained unchanged.  “Just a little further,” she whispered as the ship started to rattle violently, fire now filled the view port’s exterior.  The woman pressed a series of small buttons on the left control panel before her and a blue mist sprayed the exterior of the view port and the flames died down enough for her to loose a short sigh.

The pilot set the ship down at the edge of the lake.  Its green liquid sloshed against dark gray, nearly black sand. She unbuckled the seat harness and depressed a glowing button five feet down from the cockpit, placing a breath mask over her face.  The woman pulled out a white, thin, square, device with a five-inch glass screen.  She pressed a button on the side and the device lit up.  “At least the air isn’t toxic, but it’s barely thick enough to breath,” she said, removing the mask. “But the water isn’t really water, great.”  The woman then pulled out some thick gloves from her pocket and put them on.

Even being on the day side of the planet, three moons were still clearly seen in the sky, one of which was a deep, rust red, giving an eerie glow in the already yellow-tinted atmosphere.  She walked to the edge of the liquid body, holding her instrument in front of her. “Water, methane, and an unknown substance,” she read off the readings that showed up on her device. “That isn’t exactly what I was hoping for, oh well, I guess it’s time to leave.”

There was a ripple in the water, the woman stared, watching, waiting, then as she was about to turn there was another, this time larger than the last. “I’m not sticking around to find out what caused that,” she uttered, running back to the ship.  Before she could arrive at the vessel, a loud growling, howl echoed.  The astronaut spun around, and saw it.  A black mass, with four clawed legs, propelled it out of the water.  The alien creature’s body reminded the astronaut of a slug or worm, it was long and segmented, yet looked like it had armored plates haphazardly stitched to its sides, reminding her of a patchwork amateurish art.  The alien’s face was a canine-like snout with rows of square teeth that looked like hatchets protruding from its gums.  Seven spines awkwardly poked up from its spine and the tips bent slightly before ending in a blunt end.  She withdrew a small laser pistol, knowing the weapon was unlikely to do much to defend herself.  The astronaut fired her weapon, and the bolt struck the creature in the side, it howled in pain, and charged at her.

Realizing shooting the alien beast wasn’t a wise idea, she dove to the side, just before the creature was about to trample over her.  The alien now stood between her and the ship. “Don’t’ step backward and damage my hull, I don’t want to be stranded here,” the woman shouted as if the beast could understand her.

She fired off a few more shots, and the creature lumbered toward her, swiping at a tree-like plant that reminded her a little of celery. The plant crashed down, causing a crevice in the soft ground, but fortunately it missed the astronaut and her craft.  The woman pulled the trigger three more times, aiming for the alien’s head, two missed and the last one hit it in the snout.  The beast stared her down then leapt up and its hook claws tore through her suit, blood dribbled down her arm.  She pulled the trigger on her weapon again, but nothing happened, a soft beep sounded from her weapon noting the charge was low.  She holstered the pistol, eyes darting around, looking for a suitable weapon of some kind.  There was nothing, save for a few rocks which would hardly work to defend herself.  She gritted her teeth together, grabbed the heaviest rock she could find and hurled it at the alien.  The rock thudded into the ground, completely missing the target.  Unsurprised, but grateful the distraction the rock provides, she bolted for the ship, opened the door and quickly sealed herself inside before the thing outside knew what happened.  It screamed and hollered in anger, madly searching for her, but its cries were answered by the roar of the ship’s engines.

She pressed a series of buttons and grabbed the craft’s yolk, blasting off to the safety of space leaving the creature behind confused and upset.