Unless you’re a cardiovascular surgeon, I doubt that when you hear the word heart you immediately think of a fist-sized 300g slab of meat. No, until I threw that one in your lap, I bet most would have been conjuring images of past romantic successes…and failures.
Now don’t be fooled into thinking science is all cold and clammy…it has a heart too (and I think most scientists do too; at least in the physiological sense ;). What is this heart of science?
The controlled experiment…this is the first and last word in science. And it is what has made empirical science such an incredible tool, and it’s why I am able to sit here now and type away, whilst sipping on my apple & grape smoothie (and no, I didn’t buy it, I made it…and so would you if you had a Blendtec…and no, they don’t even pay me for advertising!)
So, what is a controlled experiment? It’s basically doing our best to make sure that we’re only testing one variable at a time, such that we can be (mostly) sure the effect we’re seeing is not coming from an unknown source. e.g. I want to study the effects of fungus on bananas. So, to design an experiment I should try to understand, other than fungus, is there anything else going on that could effect bananas? Yes! Temperature, humidity, banana age etc. So then what I try and do is keep conditions the same, and vary only one thing at a time. e.g. I could alter the amount of fungus I expose to the banana in order to see the effects of increasing concentration. However, if halfway through I changed the temperature in the room, how would I know that the effect was only due to the fungus, and not from the heat increase?
Here’s another example…I’ve been given multiple independent reports from reliable park rangers that there have been sightings of an abnormally large animal in Loch Ness, which they can only attribute to being our old pal, Nessie!
Empirical science could investigate this (should they feel sufficiently inclined, and be sufficiently funded to mobilise a team of deep-sea divers). And they could come back and say, ‘we’ve searched every darn inch of that there loch, and there ‘aint no such beast to be seen.’ (Apologies for the American accent…I’ve no idea which region it belongs to, nor how it is related to Scotland, but it just came out.)
And let’s take another scenario…you’re a psychologist and your life-long desire is to study the inner psychology of Donald Trump. How would you go about it? Yes, you could study all the material online, and his live speeches…but would you be satisfied? No…and why not? Because you haven’t had the chance to speak to him yet. But how’s little old me going to get an audience with the US President? You could just throw a strop and decide that because I can’t meet Donald Trump…even though it’s obvious he exists and others say they’ve met him…I’m going to boycott the whole affair and choose to believe that he doesn’t even exist at all!
You see, the controlled experiment only works…on things you can control. And this exposes the naivety of atheistic arguments that wildly exclaim, if God’s real, prove it! Yes, we can run a mockery in our labs on supposedly less-evolved species, but that’s the limit. I mean, if one can’t even control Mr Trump, how on earth is it conceivable to make the Supreme person one’s order carrier?
So I’ll leave you with that thought…one that has made me as a scientist desire to become more humble these days. And I’ll share my own realisation…the only way to get to know someone greater than myself is to actively endeavour to please that person. And the next question will be, ‘but how will I know if there is a Supreme being, or if I’m getting He/She’s audience?‘ My answer would be, if a soldier dedicates his life to trying to please his president and country, through pleasing his commander, then he instinctively feels he is on the right track, and one day soon he might find himself lined up in the White House, getting ready to shake hands.
“Do not spoil the wonder with haste” — Tolkien