Scientific Method – A brief history
It is often overlooked that the scientific method was actually developed in Christian Europe by men who believed that matter behaved in a rational manner because God had created an orderly universe. If the universe exists in a strictly materialistic vacuum, the product of random particle collisions, then there is no foundation upon which one can expect to observe order in nature. Many of the founders of the principle scientific disciplines (such as Newton, Galileo and Kepler), were Bible-believing Christians. Johannes Kepler -- one of the founders of the discipline of astronomy -- said that science was “thinking God’s thoughts after him.”
Scientific Method – Why is it important?
The scientific method can be divided into two primary categories: (1) empirical science and (2) historical science. Empirical science entails a systematic approach to epistemology that uses observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable experimentation to understand how nature commonly behaves. It finds its implementation in such disciplines as immunology, rocket science, molecular biology, etc. Historical science involves the interpretation of evidence and the deduction of past occurrences, which is normally based upon an underlying supportive paradigm.
Recognizing that every person has presuppositions that shape the way in which empirical evidence is interpreted is important. Theists and non-theists possess the same evidence; but that evidence is interpreted within a framework which corresponds to the individual’s respective worldview.
In its original form, ‘science’ could simply be defined as ‘knowledge’. Today, however, science -- in the view of an outspoken part of the scientific enterprise -- is the systematic method of gaining knowledge about the universe with reference to purely naturalistic or materialistic causation. Science in this sense automatically rules out the notion of God because supernatural claims -- it is asserted -- cannot be tested and repeated. If an idea is not testable, repeatable, observable and falsifiable, it is not considered scientific.
The problem with the above definition of science is that, even though naturalistic science claims to be neutral and unbiased, it starts with a set of basic metaphysical axioms -- that only matter and energy exist and all explanations and causes must be directly related to the laws that matter and energy follow. Many scientists have claimed that allowing supernatural explanations into our understanding of the universe would cause us to stop searching for answers and simply invoke a “god-of-the-gaps”. This is, of course, false.
The design inference is not based upon a lack of knowledge (as some would contend), but rather it is based upon our uniform and repeated experience. While we know of no naturalistic cause by which complex and specified biological information can arise from inorganic matter, we do know that in all other circumstances information originates from intelligence. Moreover, many scientists now see evidence of intelligent design in the ‘irreducible complexity’ of molecular machines and circuits in the cell, the pattern of appearance of the major groups of organisms in the fossil record, the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of physics to support complex life, the fine tuning of our terrestrial environment, the information processing system of the cell, and even the phenomenon known as ‘homology’ (evidence previously thought to provide unequivocal support for neo-Darwinism).
Scientific Method – Conclusion
While critics may disagree with the conclusions of the design arguments, they cannot reasonably deny that they are based upon commonly accepted observations of the natural world. The term ‘science’ commonly connotes an activity in which theories are developed to explain observations of the natural world, the empirical, observational basis of the theory of intelligent design provides a good reason for regarding intelligent design as a scientific theory.