The Double Standard of Proof

To say something in their faith is ‘proven’, for Christians (or indeed for people of any faith), is a difficult thing. As a professional scientist, my concept of ‘proof’ is different from that of the ‘proof’ of faith-based things. As a Christian, I recognise that faith and science are two different toolkits, with two different standards of proof.

So long as the limitations of the Science and Faith toolkits are respected, this usually causes few problems in logical terms.

What I find frustrating, however, is when Christians say something is true, and then say ‘The Scientists think this too’ – it┬átherefore becomes true. However, if the Scientists don’t think it’s true, then they (the scientists) are wrong. In other words, if the scientists agree with the Christians, they’re right, but if not, they’re wrong.

Quite what that standard of proof is called, I don’t know, but I think it rhymes with ‘bubble landard’.

A Christian needs to recognise that few things in his/her faith can be proven empirically, and this means that sometimes they will have to accept what they believe without hard evidence. This is fine, and is perfectly in keeping with the Faith toolkit.

Scientists, on the other hand – or indeed anyone who is used to dealing only in hard facts – need to recognise that there are some things which cannot be measured but which are nonetheless real. For example, emotion; everyone knows they exist because most people feel them, but you can’t measure, quantify or take a reading of them. Sure, a polygraph (lie detector) can detect the physiological responses of the person connected to it, but even this detects only the effects of the emotions, not the emotions themselves. Emotions are, at present anyway, out of the scope of the Science toolkit.

Christians need to stop dissing Scientists, and Scientists need to stop dissing Christians. Both sets of people are seekers after truth, just using different toolkits. It doesn’t mean that either party is wrong!


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