The Dangers of “Scientism” and an Over-Reliance on Science

If you’re like me, you have non-believing friends who claim that Christians are biased. They know that we, as Christians, believe in the existence of God, so they assume that we are unable to evaluate the evidence properly. Non-believers are convinced that Christians start out with a presupposition that clouds our judgment. In truth, however, many of our “rational”, “science based” friends are far more constrained by their presuppositions.

Remember that ALL of us have a point of view, but this does not necessarily mean we are unfairly biased. Bias has nothing to do with holding a viewpoint. Bias occurs when this viewpoint eliminates certain forms of evidence and evidential conclusions before we even begin the investigation. And while atheists may argue that Christians have this kind of bias, a quick examination of the culture’s reliance on science reveals that just the opposite is true. I bet you’ve heard a friend say something similar to: “I am a science and evidence person. Truth can only be determined empirically, and science is the only way to really know truth.” When people make statements like this, they may be revealing something more than a point of view; they may be exposing a rigid bias that is grounded in an over-reliance on science known as “scientism”. There are three dangers in over estimating the ability of science to determine truth:

An Over-Reliance on Science is Self Refuting

When people make the claim, “Science is the only way to really know the truth,” simply ask them if they “really know” that this statement is true. If they do, ask them how science helped them come to this conclusion. It turns out that the statement, “Science is the only way to really know the truth,” cannot be verified by science! This statement is a philosophical proclamation that defies its own claim: it cannot be verified or confirmed as “true” through any scientific examination or method. It turns out that, for people who make this claim, there is at least one truth they can know without the benefit of science: the fact that science is the only way to really know the truth! See the problem here?

An Over-Reliance on Science is Inappropriately Limiting

There are many 

things that we know without the benefit of science

. The previously mentioned philosophical claim is just one example. But there are more:

1. Logical and mathematical truths: these must be accepted as foundational presuppositions in order for us to engage in any scientific study, so we clearly can’t use science to determine the logic and math facts that precede science.

2. Metaphysical truths: some truths about the nature of the world (such as whether or not the external world is real in the first place) cannot be determined through the use of science

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