Objective Truth

Ron Hughes: Dr. David Humphreys is a scientist and he is also a Christian.  David, explain to us, as a scientist, how you seek out objective truth.

Dr. Humphreys:  Remember, Ron, a scientist is still a human being.  You know, we sometimes put science on a bit of a pedestal as if this was the seeking of objective truth and the rest – of the search for truth, the non-scientific ways – are somewhat tainted.

And the fact is, science is somewhat limited in the sense it’s dealing with mechanisms and material causes and physical laws.  But one thing that it has in common with Christianity, which excites me, is based on the fact that it’s not a matter of opinion.  That there is some objective evidence for it out there.  That I’m not, as a scientist, entitled to invent any old baloney that I want to invent or any old theory without it having a basis.  And in science that basis is generally observation of the world around us and experiment.  We look at the facts; the things that we can see and handle; the observable reality is the basis for truth it’s not speculation.  Although, scientists do speculate and there are theories, but those theories have to be somehow justified in experiment.

But it’s not so different, you know, for me as a Christian.  I don’t believe that religious truth is a matter of opinion.  I believe they are both like a rock to be uncovered – this is the analogy I use.  It’s not like a melting pot where we say, hey, as a scientist or as a Christian, I’m just going to go around and ask people what they think, put all the opinions together, and somehow we’ll dole out the truth.

What we do in the Christian Faith is look at revelation, look at history and we say, hey, this is the ground of belief, this is the rock that we uncover.

Christianity, Ron, presents itself as faith based on empirical reality.  It’s the same word you use about science.  I mean, something real out there.  The basic story of the Gospel is:  God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.

God did stuff!  I mean, He really created the world; we can see it around us, we enjoy it.  But He also got into what the Bible describes as redemption.  I mean, that is absolutely concrete.  God has got a certain character that He loves us, and He showed that.  He actually showed that by coming, giving His Son – who actually died.  And all those are historical things that can be verified, that happened in space and time.  They’re not gobble-de-gook, they’re not mythical invention.  It turns out to be a reality.

So, in both science and Christianity, although it’s a different type of evidence, we look for evidence, we look for objective reality.  We don’t follow the whim of people’s personal opinion.

And that’s very important today.  ‘Cause, you know, today, people say this is a ‘post-modern age.’  Meaning, you know, that absolute truth is not really the foundation of discussion, that things are a bit up for grabs and that one person’s opinion is as good is another.  But we don’t feel that in science.  We say, ‘hey, what’s the evidence?’  And I don’t feel that that can be substantiated to in the religious realm.  After all, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  And there was a bold, dogmatic, exclusive claim there that  He substantiated, of course, by His life and works.

So, in both realms the rock of objective fact has to be sought.