By Dr. Stephanie Ellis
Recently, Discover Magazine had a blog post titled “’Is Psychology a Science?’ Is the Wrong Question.” (you can read it here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/) Despite being skeptical about psychology (one of the loves of my heart!), it makes some very good points, chief among them…
“There is no special ‘scientific method’ that sets ‘science’ apart. Different branches of science use different methods to uncover the truth.
Theoretical physics, organic chemistry, and evolutionary biology have nothing in common beyond the fact that they study something. And nor should they.”
But it does something even more remarkable – it begins talking about the search for “truth.” As Christians in higher education, this is a particularly important issue for us. We are in the business of finding and teaching truth, and of understanding it in the light of the Truth of God. The post makes one more point –
“a better question to ask of psychology is: “is it true?” – or rather “how true is it?” Few fields are 100% true or false.”
If you’re familiar with inferential statistics, you’ll know what I mean when I say that truth as we know it is about 95% likely not to be random chance. Rational truth (determining truth through logical argument) starts out simple and clear and progressively gets more convoluted as more data appears, until someone resets the whole mess with a paradigm shift. And empirical truth (learning through experiencing with the senses) is by definition filtered through the nervous system, giving rise to the creepy questions like “Is anything really true, or are we in the Matrix?”
But underneath is the idea that there is a REAL truth about science. There really ARE fundamental laws of physics operating in the universe, even if we have to keep revising how we understand them as we see farther into the universe. There really ARE basic building blocks to life, even if we have to give new names to “new” particles as we dig deeper and uncover them. There really IS something behind the experience of consciousness, even though we have barely a clue what it might be.
The Truth is 100% true and it’s been there all along. It’s not 100% well-translated. It’s not 100% well-understood. It’s certainly not 100% agreed upon by all seekers. We just have to keep using all the methods we can to uncover it, and remember that the Lord is the Author of all that’s true in science, and beyond.