Someone once pointed out to me that he would rather trust God than science because science keeps changing while the Bible has remained the same for thousands of years.
Some people think that constancy is a good thing. In some cases, it is, but in many others, it’s not. The Biblical text may have remained the same but our understanding and interpretation of it certainly has not. I, for one, am certainly glad that we no longer execute homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13), nor stone to death non-believing relatives — with your own hands no less (Deuteronomy 13:6-10), nor decimate entire towns that entice you to believe in other gods (Deuteronomy 13:12-16). Imagine the killing spree that would happen should you open your doors to a couple of Mormon missionaries. Imagine the bloodbath that would happen.
But wait, one need not imagine for it has already happened in the Crusades of the middle-ages, the Salem witch trials, and other such events in the annals of history.
Now tell me again why being unchanging is actually a good thing.
Many people find comfort in constancy. They want a stable job, a steady income, a close set of friends and so on. That is but natural and I’m not making a judgement call on whether that’s good or bad. It is what it is. Now, it is good in a sense that your life becomes quite predictable and free from nasty surprises. However, constancy can also prevent you from moving forward and radically improving your life.
In fact, the reason I trust science more than the Bible is because science is honest enough to discard or modify its own principles when sufficient evidence arises to warrant a change. Granted, there are unscrupulous scientists who falsify evidence in their favor, but then again, there are unscrupulous people anywhere, be it in business, politics or religion. In no way does the presence of such individuals invalidate the scientific method. If anything, it serves to show that no matter how plausible or philosophically elegant a claim is, it can be discarded based on the evidence or counter-evidence.
Science can show that whether your skin color is black, white, yellow or brown, you are not inferior or superior to another and this cannot be used as a justification for slavery. Science can show that man and woman are essentially the same, yet it took thousands of years for people steeped in superstition to accept that and give the same rights to both. Even today, with all the evidence available, that same right is not yet a given in all countries or cultures. Science can show that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon occurring in various animal species and although much research and debate is still ongoing, it certainly is no cause to pour hatred or condemnation on the LGBT community, nor lump them together with murderers and thieves as in 1 Timothy 1:9-10.
The great comfort I derive from uncertainty is that there is always the possibility of changing for the better. Of course, one can always take a turn for the worse but that is a necessary risk, or one will forever be stuck in a meaningless cycle of existence — a point excellently made in the 1998 film, Pleasantville, starring Tobey Maguire (before his Spiderman days) and Reese Witherspoon.
This is not to say that science is always uncertain. We can be certain of things to a reasonable degree. I trust in science and the scientific method because it works. When you drop a ball, you can reasonably expect it to fall downwards instead of falling upwards. When you build a rocket based on sound science, it flies into space. When you create medicine based on science, it alleviates pain and suffering.
And yet, the beauty of it is that science is always open to new discoveries and new principles that can supersede the old. It does not brand as heretics those who want to disprove Einstein or Hawking as long as they can back it up with sound data or mathematics. Now, try raising your hand at the next church service and seriously question the virgin birth of Jesus, or his resurrection.
Let me know how that goes.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.