31. Faith and the Scientific Method
On p. 40 of The Mind of God, the following statement appears: "The number of assumptions built into the scientific method is as substantial as those for spiritual enlightenment."
The basic assumption in the spiritual quest is that a supreme intelligence or creator exists in the universe which is capable of communicating that intelligence to us. For a vast number of people in the world, that is a reasonable hypothesis. Most scientists however, would not make that assumption.
The scientists assume that the laws of science are unchanging and eternal, only needing to be fully understood. As Einstein once said, learning to read the laws of physics is like reading the mind of God. Author Adam Frank points out "The problem is that physics appears to be leading us not to resolution but into an Alice in Wonderland world of increasingly bizarre theories... a few renegade physicists are now asking: Why does each step we take only seem to send us deeper into the rabbit hole?"1
Most physicists are holding out for the promised "theory of everything," assuming that the immutable laws will someday be understood in their entirety. But Adam Frank notes: "If we have to take so much on faith, aren't we behaving more like priests than like scientists?"2 The real problems have arisen from trying to unify quantum mechanics, the physics of very small things (submicroscopic particles), with relativity, the physics of the very large ones (planets). The conflict is most significant when trying to calculate back to the early universe.
Theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman believes it is possible that the laws of physics are not static at all, but may have evolved over time. We do not see changes now because the laws have reached a point of stability, or are changing very slowly. He says: "The whole point is that there might not be eternal laws to reason backward to."3