Science is a wonderful tool that helps us to learn about one particular subset of knowledge: how the natural world operates. Science functions well within its circumscribed area of expertise, but it fails miserably when it ventures beyond its limits.
Science is powerless to explain topics such as what constitutes knowledge or consciousness, what makes a meaningful relationship, or how to prevent people from doing evil. It can neither prove or disprove the existence of God. It cannot unravel the mystery of love, joy, wonder, beauty, and spiritual longing. It is incapable answering the biggest question: Why?
The remarkable breakthroughs of science have created the impression that ultimately it will explain everything. That is a false assumption. It has been stated the “best” of science can only explain 4% of the world’s mass and energy. Science has to “go dark” to account for rest. There’s a vast amount of room for humility. When science becomes arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant, it is bad science. Science has a tendency to forget that it is not the only show in town.
“It is our mistake to ask science to do something it can’t,” wrote Iain McGilchrist. “It’s like expecting your iPod to tell you whether you are in love.”
An unquestioning acceptance of ideas because “science says so” is unwise. Science doesn’t always get it right. Numerous writers have documented this fact, and lamented the “brokenness” of science (here, here, here, and here).
We have much cause to be grateful for the advances of science. However, not everything fits into a test tube or can be examined under a microscope. When the high priests of science postulate about topics that are beyond the field of scientific inquiry, it’s time to remind them that they are out of their depth. They have left science for speculative storytelling.