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Which Science?

Which Science?

The continuing Covid Crisis triggers many thoughts. We are repeatedly told that the government is “following the science”, to which I want to ask “which science?” Other countries are also “following the science” but have developed different strategies than ours. Swedish science seems to have come to a different conclusion than UK science.

I learned many lessons over my four years at teacher training college. But one lesson didn’t dawn on me until some years later, after wider experience and greater personal scholarship.

I assumed from the start that what we were taught was correct — objective truth about child development, psychology, sociology, teaching strategies and so forth. I had no point of reference, no background to judge it by and after all, teachers are always right, aren’t they? Afterwards, as the years rolled on it became clear that a significant part of the educational theory I was taught was not necessarily independent truth, but just the academic fashion of the day, theories which were popular at the time.

I suppose this would not be surprising in the creative arts, dance, drama, literature, or even the humanities. Historical interpretation seems to be in a perpetual state of re-evaluation. I suppose we wouldn’t be too surprised either to find changing emphases in the social sciences, and philosophical thought seems in a constant state of flux. But I discovered that fashion also applies to the physical sciences and even mathematics. New solutions are found, new discoveries made, old conclusions discarded. After all, “the science” once taught that the sun revolves round the earth, and that base metals might be turned into gold.

So, who got the Covid Crisis right? Well, we don’t know the answer to that yet; only time will reveal it even though right now, for some of us, in some decisions it seems some politicians and a few scientists have taken leave of their senses. One thing is certain though: there is no single answer from science, which provides a range of possibilities from which the most popular, not necessarily the most correct, rise to the top. Choosing which strategy to follow is a political, not a scientific decision.

This leads back to an earlier post in this blog, “How Do We Get to Know Stuff?”. My faith tells me that absolute truth exists and we can find bits of it in this life. Its origin is God and we can only be aware of truth through his Spirit. All truth comes from God whether we believe in him or not. As we apply our minds to questions, he reveals answers, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little”, but he expects effort on our part. Spirit and mind are inseparably connected; study and reason are not the only way to truth. We hope that some of our politicians and scientists find the humility to seek guidance through prayer which, of course, we all need to do.


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