Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Triple Crown Winner and Disproving Science

Yesterday, American Pharoah defied the odds and became the first Triple Crown Winner in 37 years.  Even if horse racing isn't your thing (it's certainly not mine), one cannot help but be impressed by the accomplishment of this rare feat. 

In the lead up to the Belmont Stakes, I couldn't help but notice on Facebook, twitter and many other media outlets about how science demonstrates that American Pharoah was not going to win the Triple Crown.  Now, notice the difference between saying the "odds do not favor" versus "science does not favor."  Science, we are constantly reminded, is grounded in fact which can be observed and measured.  So, if science says that there would be no Triple Crown Winner this year, then there should have been no Triple Crown Winner this year.  Lo, and behold.  Here, we are.   After all, just becomes teams don't match up on a piece of paper doesn't mean they don't play.  If a team is supposed to win nine times out of ten, there is still that one game for an upset.  That's what make sporting events fun.

Now, I have yet to notice one single person saying that the result "disproves" science.  And I don't think they should.  Because science is the result of observation and measurement, you cannot disprove that sound travels at 340.29 m/s, unless, of course, you were just wrong.  If all of the articles and memes and other media were talking about merely the odds, then no one should give it a second thought.  However, let's say for sake of argument that  American Pharoah was deemed to win by some religious authority, the media would go out of its way to say that the actual result disproves religion.  Of course, such a thing didn't happen, but one needn't search too hard to find that there are numerous "Studies", "archaeological evidence," "textual evidence," etc. that disprove what Christians teach from morality to God.  Every year around Easter, numerous news magazines like Time and Newsweek run articles about the Jesus Seminar and how their conclusions disprove what the Church teaches about Christ and His Resurrection.  And we are ordered to buy into that without any argument whatsoever.  Because, if science says, it must be true.

I am not writing this to deride science. I love science.  Had it not been for a few bumps in the road, I would have gone into medicine.  I love chemistry and biology in particular.  But science itself is not infallible.  It has been made that way by modern society as a more plausible alternative to God and, because of this, has become a religion in of itself, though the people who actually think this way will never admit that.  But science and scientists aren't always correct either.  One famous example I can give is that the famous Alexandrian scientist Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth, but was about 2000 miles off.  Why?  He assumed that the earth was completely spherical and that the city of Cyzicus was directly south of Alexandria (which would form an arc on a circle).  He was wrong on both counts, but we can certainly excuse him for his mistakes.  Science evolves in its conclusions all the time based on the accumulation of more evidence.  But it does not explain the why of life?  Science can explain a lot of "whats" and "hows", but not "whys" especially the "why are we here" type questions.

I do not believe there is a contradiction between science and religion.  The two do work harmoniously together.  But science does require a moral component and science by itself does not have one.  That is why we have laws and religion.  We can technologically progress, but because we can doesn't always mean that we should.  Science needs responsibility to function well.  Science by itself does not guarantee a world that would resemble the planet Vulcan.  But still, even the Vulcans still had to deal with emotional and biological issues that could only be settled, at times, by fights to the death.

Science was not disproved yesterday by American Pharoah's winning of the Triple Crown.  The odds were not in the naysayers' favor.  Nor is the Resurrection of Christ disproven because one person thinks he found a tomb with an inscription on it of Jesus' name (that was later proven to be a hoax).  The only thing I want is for those people who venerate science so highly not use it as a club against those of the Christian church in particular and religion, in general.  And vice versa.

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