The Authenic Spirit of Working Science

From an editorial in next month’s Touchstone, Dr. Wilfred McClay writes a beautiful summary of how science ought to be done:

It is careful, provisional, tentative, modest, and process-oriented, always open to refutation, grounded in a disciplined asceticism that sticks to the experimental evidence at hand. It does not claim to know what it cannot know, and is slow to draw conclusions. Yet it combines such interpretive humility with a deep sense of wonder at the beauty and variousness and intricacy and orderliness of the world we inhabit, and a desire to draw closer to it. It has a disinterested passion for knowledge. It is a thoroughly admirable disposition.

Steve Hutchens remarks that McClay’s cadences are akin to St. Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 13 about love. I suspect that is intentional, but even if not, it is quite profound. Science should be grounded in love of Creation and the Creator: I would find no joy in exploring the intricacies of biochemistry if it weren’t for a sense of awe of the complexities and beauty that I find in it. When I do not find my work joyful, I suspect it is because I lose track of that same attitude and do experiments just for the sake of doing them. To be a scientist in the mold of that described by McClay is to be a scientist perfectly at home in Creation, yet also humble enough to realize that what he studies is not all there is.


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