What is science?

Compound Microscope
By Hensoldt Wetztar
Of Germany

Webster's defines 'science' in part as "knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method." Webster's Learning Dictionary defines the 'scientific method' thus: the process that is used by scientists for testing ideas and theories by using experiments and careful observation. Careful observation implies the doctrine of empiricism; that is, science is based on observable tests that lead to a conclusion that proves a scientific hypothesis and are repeatable, yielding the same results every time the experiment is performed.
Thermometer - Linnaeus

Thermometer made for Linnaeus
in the workshop of the Royal
Swedish Academy of Sciences by
Johan Gustav Hasselström at the
end of the 1770's.

Photo from The Linnaeus Museum in Uppsala.

As empirical evidence is gathered, scientists can suggest a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon1| . This new explanation is used to make falsifiable predictions that are testable by experiment or observation. When a hypothesis proves unsatisfactory, it is either modified or discarded2|.
RCA microphone 77DX

RCA 77DX 'ribbon'
microphone - 1954

Utah 16 speaker

Utah 16 Drum
1920S Antique Radio Loudspeaker
Utah Radio Products

A scientific method seeks to explain the events of nature in a reproducible way3|. Taken in its entirety, a scientific method allows for highly creative problem solving while minimizing any effects of subjective bias on the part of its users (namely the confirmation bias)4|.
Diamond stylus for measuring roughness

Skidded and skidless guages for measuring roughness of a surface.

These statements are, naturally, generalizations. Suffice it to say that generally science is founded on the 'empirical method'5|. Webster's defines 'empirical' as 'originating in or based on observation or experience. . . . capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment.'

Association for Chemoreception SciencesThe Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) is an international association that advances understanding of the senses of taste and smell.

In broad - but specific - terms, science is founded on the five senses. Scientific instruments extend the scope of human senses, but are still essentially tied to the advantages and disadvantages of the five sensory organs, organs for: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.

Science has accomplished truly marvelous things, brought great labor-saving devices and helped to tame a sometimes tumultuous environment. By repeated observations and experimentations science can even predict events, such as a supernova of the aging 'red giant' star, Betelgeuse, located in the right shoulder of the constellation Orion. It could explode tomorrow . . . or in a million years; but it will predictably explode. Betelgeuse is calculated to be 640 light years distance from earth . . . although it could be anywhere in the range of 180 to 1,300 light years distance from our solar system6|.

This idea that Betelguese will undergo a supernova has some prior empirical evidence to support it. According to scientific interpreters, on July 4 or 5 of 1054 AD a super nova in the region of the star Zeta Tauri [in the constellation of Taurus] lit up the earthly skies and created the Crab Nebula7|.

This author carries no brief against science. Within its intended scope it is a valuable tool. However, it is wise to admit its limitations, something a few of its disciples are reticent to do. Science is conceived to deal with the material world and our relationship with it.

Because it cannot measure what cannot be perceived by the five senses, it is incapable of dealing with issues of faith.

The Scriptural definition of faith is given in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 'Hope' is an abstract thinking process whereby symbols of absent objects are created in the mind; the fact that the experimental evidence is 'not seen' does not bode well for science to be able to measure anything involved. In Hebrews 11: 3 the Scripture further states, '. . . so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.' This maxim would seem to totally contravene the bounds of science.

This does not mean that the two 'schools' can share no confidence. For example, the issue of creation.

Creation: In Six Days

The pragmatic follower of scientific thought will sometimes challenge the Bible believer, 'Do you really think that the world and all the universe was made in six days?' The believer will defensively respond, 'The Bible says so and that settles it.' There is no consensus possible.

But suppose that the truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes. Here is a copy of the Julian Calendar with Bible events superimposed.

    Julian     Modern     Event
    0000     4713BC     ALPHA (beginning)
    0100     4613BC     end 1st day creation (the evening and the morning) 'Edenic' period
    0200     4513BC     end 2nd day creation 'Edenic' period
    0300     4413BC     end 3rd day creation 'Edenic' period
    0400     4313BC     end 4th day creation 'Edenic' period
    0500     4213BC     end 5th day creation 'Edenic' period
    0600     4113BC     end 6th day creation 'Edenic' period
    0700     4013BC     end of day of G·d's rest; life breathed into Adam
    0724     3989BC     fall from Eden; begin 1st day new creation [one day =
                                      thousand years (2 Peter 3:8)]
    1322     3391BC     Enoch born
    1387     3326BC     Methuselah born
    1630     3083BC     Adam dies
    1687     3026BC     G·d takes Enoch
    1724     2989BC     begin 2nd day new creation
    1756     2957BC     Noah born
    2259     2454BC     Shem born to Noah
    2356     2357BC     Methuselah dies; Noah 600 years old; flood begins

    Julian    Modern      Event
    2357     2356BC     flood waters dried
    2458     2255BC     Peleg born (in his days the earth was divided)
    2649     2064BC     Abram born
    2706     2007BC     Noah dies
    2724     1989BC     begin 3rd day new creation
    2859     1854BC     Shem dies
    3724     989BC       begin 4th day new creation
    4724     0012AD     begin 5th day new creation; Jesus alive now
    4776     0064AD     (approx) Nero Cæsar persecutes Christians; named by many as first antichrist
    5724     1012AD     begin 6th day new creation
    6660     1948AD     2nd antichrist born?
    6724     2012AD     {?} begins the Millennium of peace, the 7th day of G·d's rest; Satan bound.
    7724     3012AD    
{?} Satan released, his ``little season´´ - 276 years; finish 'Edenic' period
    7901     3189AD     ?onslaught of Gog & Magog
    7980     3268AD     end of full Julian period; ?begin final judgment
    8000     3288AD     OMEGA; END OF AGE

This calendar is based on the current Julian Period calculation [made by Joseph Scaliger8|] that in the year 4713 BC the Roman Indication Cycle, the solar year and the lunar year began on the same date and that they would run variously separate for 7980 years when they would exactly coincide again. [For various reasons the above calculation includes a 'year zero'.]
The Hands of Creation

The 'Hands of Creation'

The purpose of this calendar in the present context is to show that the 'seven days of creation' of Genesis could be going on right now! We would now be in the sixth day of the present creation! It has been generally conceded that Genesis may account for at least two creations9|, and that the present 'age' is simply the current creation. Perhaps in previous creations there were dinosaurs, ice ages, catastrophic asteroids... whatever.

Just as the above Scriptural-view credits the ever-changing aspects of 'creation' to an on-going process, so does science catalogue the short- and long-term changes constantly present in the vast environment around us.

This theme is inextricably intertwined with the great delusion mentioned in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. We must return to this presently.

Science has formulated an hypothesis of sort-of-creation: the Big Bang Theory10|, associated with such prominent names as Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and Stephen Hawking. The theory states that at one ?time the universe was very hot and very dense, which caused it to expand rapidly - explosively - thus cooling, resulting in its currently eexpanding state. This neat theory would seem to elaborate systematically and methodically on the first chapter of Genesis. It makes no claim as to original cause nor subsequent effect: it just happened.

Oddly, many believe that this scientific theory eliminates the need for God. No one can explain how this can be accounted for, other than that it simply does not mention God. What the original dense heat was composed of or from whence it came is treacherous ground for science.

What Genesis implies is that before the Beginning God was able to not exist - there was 'no thing'. This would be the Grreat Unknowable God that some ancients referred to as 'Who?' [Isaiah 40:26] Naturally science cannot contain a state known as 'no thing' in the absolute. Scripture implies that there was nothing whatsoever, including time. The mind of faith can conceptually conceive of this state. Science can not, because it cannot be measured or duplicated. In the incomprehensible 'no-thing' the God who was able to not exist called up faith [the evidence of things not seen] and issued a fiat: I AM, and all that ever was or ever will be came into being. . . was created.

Some scientists have tried to overcome this hurdle by proposing multiple universes and 'string theory'. As thought provoking as this may be, it gets us no closer to conceiving of 'the beginning' or 'before the beginning'. Science cannot divine First Cause.

The Five Senses
[See top of page]

Ask five witnesses to an automobile accident to describe what they saw and you usually end up with five different scenarios. Admittedly they will be closely similar, and an astute investigator will likely derive some conclusions from the evidence given that provides a fairly accurate description of what actually happened.

The problem with the five senses is that they are flawed, and they are flawed because of the influence of Babel. The human mind conceptualizes all perceptions by way of symbols; with time human thought processes are influenced by the values we each individually place upon those particular symbols. Some aspects of an event will be distorted by memory, perhaps forgotten, perhaps over-emphasized. Language, which is the evidence of the use of abstract symbols in thinking processes, is simply a barely adequate vehicle for conveying ideas: communicating [Babel].

Take, for example, the cosmic event of July 4-5, 1054 AD. How do we know that a supernova occurred at that time? We don't. All of the historical records describing the event are 'reports', not observations. They are ideas communicated over time to scribes who wrote down what they heard11|.
The Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula
Is this the result of a
supernova that occurred
in 1054 of the Common

The most accurate of the records of the event are considered to be from the Chinese: three documents dated to the Song Dynasty. Two give the time of the event as the day jichou, but the third gives the date as yichou. These would correspond in the modern calendar to July 4 and June 10 respectively. A scribal error? . . . or an error of reading?

Three Japanese documents believed to refer to the event agree with each other as to timing, but all place the observation a month earlier than the Chinese references.

An Arab account of the stellar event was discovered in 1978; it is transcribed from a book compiled in the mid-thirteenth century quoting a Nestorian Christian doctor, Ibn Butlan. He states that the 'star' appeared in the year 446 (of the Muslim Calendar; 12 April, 1054 - 1 April, 1055 in modern calendar terms) 'during the sign of Gemini.' The exact date is not specifically indicated.

European texts believed to refer to the supernova are quite muddled as to date, time and length of the event, and are not specific to any area of the sky. Some students of the European texts suspect that the Arab account above is inaccurate and does not necessarily contradict the European accounts.

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico - home of the Anasazi native population at about the time of the stellar event - has some petroglyphs that could refer to the supernova12|; the evidence is too non-specific to be used as scientific evidence. [See Scission Three - History: As We Know It]

Surely human perception is subject to ambiguous interpretation.


We stated Webster's definition of 'empirical' as 'originating in or based on observation or experience. . . . capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment.' Wikipedia says, 'A central concept in modern science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses.'

The instruments of science, in order to facilitate their mission of testing and observation, are sophisticated extensions of our five senses. The instruments are totally reliable to reproduce the data that our senses would perceive if possible. Like our senses, however, they may have unavoidable biases and blind spots. Wikipedia states the case thus: Senses are limited, and are subject to errors in perception such as optical illusions. Scientific instruments were developed to magnify human powers of observation, such as weighing scales, clocks, telescopes, microscopes, thermometers, cameras, and tape recorders, and also translate into perceptible form events that are unobservable by human senses, such as indicator dyes, voltmeters, spectrometers, infrared cameras, oscilloscopes, interferometers, geiger counters, x-ray machines, and radio receivers13|.
Higgs boson at the Hadron Collider

Discovery of the Higgs boson
on July 4, 2012, at the Large
Hadron Collider [This image
shows a computer-simulation
of data]

The further from simple observation the sensory instruments of science evolve, the more likely error is apt to creep in.

We stated previously that the distance to the star Betelguese could be anywhere in the range of 180 to 1,300 light years from our solar system [but see footnote #6]. Is that verifiable? Is it even useful? If one says that they are between 5 and 105 years of age, the statement is accurate and perhaps useful - unless one is applying for Social Security benefits.

The late Thomas S. Kuhn, an author, American historian and philosopher of science, has promoted this idea that these methods are influenced by prior beliefs and experiences14|. He has offered the view that our comprehension of science can never rely on full "objectivity"; we must account for subjective perspectives as well.

This curious fact is evident in the recent controversy over anthropogenic [human-caused] climate change, also known as global warming. One body of scientists argues forcibly that there is a consensus that their data confirms that there is anthropogenic climate change; their critics say that there is contrary data, and claim that consensus is not science, it forms scientific theory much the same as the older consensus that the Earth was flat.

When scientists contest their various theories in the proper forum the academic atmosphere is healthy. When scientists say that their consensus amounts to settled fact and opposition should be oppressed, science has polluted their own discipline. It turns out that the Earth is not flat, nor does any scholar still argue that it could be.

This sort of entrenched arguments leads us to the principle of EVOLUTION.


        [All web links acquired in Spring of 2014]
1| Robert Nola, Gürol Irzik; Philosophy, science, education and culture, pp. 199–201; Springer (2005).
2| ibid p. 208.
3| Giuliano Toraldo di Francia, The Investigation of the Physical World, Cambridge University
      Press, p. 13; (1976)
4| Patricia Fara, Science: a four thousand year history, p. 408, Oxford University Press (2009). the
     confirmation bias is defined as 'a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs
     or hypotheses.'
6| The website SolStation uses data from HIPPARCOS ("High precision parallax collecting satellite") and
      measures the distance from our sun to Betelguese as around 430 +/- 100 light-years "(based on a
      HIPPARCOS Plx= 7.63 +/- e_Plx= 1.64 mas)." James B. Kaler, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy of
      the University of Illinois, says, "Direct parallax measures from space, using the most modern results,
      give 495 light years, whereas the parallax using the star's natural radio emission gives 640 light years."
7| L. P. Williams, 'The Supernova of 1054: A Medieval Mystery'; in H. Woolf (ed.), The Analytic Spirit:
     Essays in the History of Science in Honor of Henry Guerlac, pp. 329-349; Cornell University Press,
     Ithaca; 1981.
8| Joseph Justus Scaliger, Opus novum de emendatione temporum ("New Work on the Emendation of
     Time"); Mamert Patisson, Paris; 1583.
9| Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel,
     Harvard University Press (1997)
10| Joseph E.Lemaître, Un univers homogène de masse constante et de rayon croissant rendant compte
     de la vitesse radiale des nébuleuses extragalactiques (Translated in: "A Homogeneous Universe of
     Constant Mass and Growing Radius Accounting for the Radial Velocity of Extra-galactic Nebulae".
     Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 91: 483–490; 1931. The term 'Big Bang' was
     fashioned by renowned British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle in a radio broadcast in 1950.
11| G.W. Collins II, W.P. Claspy and J.C. Martin, A Reinterpretation of Historical References to the
     Supernova of A.D. 1054; Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 111, No. 761,
     pp. 871-880; July, 1999. There are a number of Chinese records of the event; 1/ The Wenxian Tongkao,
     compiled by Ma Duanlin in 1280, was translated by Édouard Biot in 1843; 2/ the Xu Zizhi Tongjian
     Changbian, re-written 40 years or so later by Li Tao (1114–1183); 3/ The Song Huiyao, a traditional
     form of history book in China, a portion of which was preserved in the Yongle Encyclopedia, and re-
     published as the Song Huiyao Jigao, 1936 edition; and more. The main Japanese text is the
     Meigetsuki, a report of an historical record by poet and author Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241) in his
     diary, apparently based on original Japanese documents. Arab and European sources appear less
     dependable and less precise.
12| Dan Greening,
13| The source for this widely quoted sentence is Wikipedia's page on 'Observation' - Observation in
     science:; no further source is given.
14| Thomas Samuel Khun, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press (1970).

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