No. Science doesn’t prove – or disprove – anything.
Now, before you go getting all excited and writing me off as a nut, think about it. What exactly IS science? I’m not talking about science in specific terms, like anthropology or botany or zoology. I’m talking about science in general. You know, the larger principle.
Science (remember, I’m speaking generally) is the compilation of data gathered from observations. If you want to make sure that you fully understand the process of boiling water, you must create a repeatable test so that you have some info to compile. You need some water, a heat source, and a thermometer. You go to the beach, heat your water to 212 and see what happens. Not surprisingly, the water boils and you record your experiment in a notebook. As long as you are at sea level, and your water is pure, and your thermometer works properly, you will likely observe the same results over and over…giving you some very consistent data to compile. So what does that tell us, scientifically?
Not a whole lot. “What?!” you say? Water will always boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, right? No, not necessarily. That’s not the right question! What science tells us from observing the same test over and over is not what will happen in the future, but what has already happened. Yes, after repeating the boiling water experiment a billion times we know that the certainty of getting the same result is incredibly high…but it’s not entirely assured. To assume that we will always get the same result is to presume on knowledge that we cannot have.
You see, scientific conclusions are always dependent on the technology available at a given time. In a religion-related example, the Bible speaks quite often of the Assyrian empire. For centuries, secular scientists scoffed openly at Bible-believers who referred to the Assyrians because no archaeological evidence for the existence of such an empire had ever been found. Who could blame the scientists? Not me…except that they made the mistake of acting on the assumption that the information they had was all of the information that would ever be available. When archaeologists dug in the right spot, they found a substantial number of artifacts from the Assyrian empire. The Bible was vindicated and we all learned a valuable lesson: that the absence of evidence in any specific instance proves nothing. In this case, there hadn’t been any observations from which to gather information.
Let’s look at the NASA website for some additional insight:
In science, no theory is ever absolutely proved true. Some theories, however, are stronger and better supported than others.NASA FAQ
Science isn’t in the business of proving stuff. The business of science is to gather information, and to compile it in meaningful ways. I’m not suggesting that we throw out all scientific conclusions. That would be silly indeed. I’m suggesting that we should begin to take scientific conclusions as tentative, potentially temporary…intermediate instead of final. As our technology changes, our information changes. As our information changes, our conclusions change. If we remember that all scientific knowledge is limited in this way, we won’t assume that the Earth is flat, or that the universe revolves around our particular theory. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that we thought it impossible for man to fly, or for an automobile to travel faster than 28 miles per hour. Every conclusion we make could be shown premature in mere moments if our technology or our aspirations prove sufficient. If we allow ‘scientific’ conclusions to control the way we think, we won’t attempt anything ‘impossible’. If we continue to challenge the assumptions we’ve lived by, we will continue to move forward into areas of knowledge and prosperity and progress we’d always thought impossible.