How Scientific Research Is Conditioned By Worldview

Sergei Golovin Simferopol, Ukraine


Translated from Russian by E. Molodchiy
Edited by Amy Shved
Annotation. The metaphysical understanding of a scientist inevitably renders influence upon the interpretation of the observed facts, chosen by the scientist. The fanatical faithfulness of many modern researchers to methodological naturalism does not allow them to admit to the possibility of another approach. Nevertheless, a lot of knowledge has been gained from the last century which is located obviously outside of the naturalistic model of the universe. Only an unbiased comparison of the approaches will allow us to establish which of the paradigms gives the most consistent scientific picture of the world.

According to the choice expression of Poincare, science cannot be reduced to a number of facts, like a building cannot be reduced to a pile of stones. Without a doubt, facts are the most valuable product of empirical research, of which the generally accepted attributes conform to the requirements of observation, repeatability and falsification (i.e. basic refutation). But in the same "stones" of the facts one person can see the plan of the great Architect, another sees an infinite line of changing illusions, and a third - no more than a successful combination of accidental elements. What is the reason for such a difference? The point is that each of us looks upon the facts through our own glasses named as "worldview" or "religion".


The given paper's purpose is not to look at the phenomenon of the so-called organized religions. The term "religion" here is used in its original sense (lat. - religio). Being in the given context a synonym for the modern term "worldview", religion means a system of basic principles and regulations accepted without proof, i.e. by faith. In this sense, Christian theism is a religion in the same degree, as atheism, naturalism or materialism. At the same time, science will be understood as the development and theoretical systematization of objective knowledge about reality with the purpose of describing, explaining and predicting the processes and phenomena of reality on the basis of the laws discovered by science.


Science cannot exist outside of the context of worldview or religion even if we put aside such an interesting phenomenon of our time, as superstitious scientism. (This is the tendency of many people to see in the person of a scientist a faultless and infallible "priest" of the temple of truth and unconditionally trust any newspaper hoax, if the message is anticipated with the magic formula "scientists have discovered, that … "). The religious aspect of science is already seen in its definition, namely:

1) Belief in the objective existence of the laws of nature (principle of casualty).
2) Belief in the unity of these laws in all time and spatial continuum, shown both in natural conditions, and in the laboratory; both by supervision and in experiments (principle of universality).
3) Belief in the reasonable character of these laws, giving an opportunity for their comprehension in a rational way (principle of rationality).

It is not difficult to be convinced, that all three of the above mentioned premises first of all carry a purely religious character, and secondly are not independent judgements, but follow as a result of belief in the existence of the One reasonable, omniscient, omnipotent Lawgiver. This Lawgiver is capable not only to establish a unified and self-sufficient system of universal laws, but also, in distinction to the majority of modern lawgivers, to watch closely the execution of these laws. It is also supposed, that our mind is the representation of His mind, and that we are capable to learn His plan and even to express it by mathematical methods. In particular, the possibility of mathematics itself was perceived by Kant as the essence of the basic question of philosophy alongside with the possibilities of physics and meta-physics.

In this case it is hard not to recollect on the debate of Leonhard Euler and Pierre Laplace about the existence of God arranged by Catherine II. Euler, who had to speak first, came forward, wrote on the blackboard "eip+1=0", and declared: "Hence, there is God". Thus the debate was finished. Objections had not followed because it is really difficult to give other explanation to the fact that an imaginary quantity and two transcendental numbers can be combined in such a simple and beautiful ratio.

In the decades since then our knowledge of mathematical fundamentals of the universe have been considerably increased. This idea was expressed in the words of Paul Dirac, who received together with Erwin Schrodinger the Nobel Prize in 1933 for research in the field of quantum electrodynamics and quantum theory of gravitation:

…The fact that fundamental physical laws are described by the mathematical theories of greatest beauty and power, requiring mathematical knowledge of the highest level, appears to be the most fundamental property of nature… God is the great mathematician and He used mathematics of the highest level in creating the Universe.

What we call today the scientific method, comes directly from creationist religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, despite the high level of development in all pre-Christian civilizations in the areas of astronomy, medicine, agriculture, metallurgy, architecture and art, essentially science and the technology based on it have formed only in the late-Christian European civilization, where faith in the one Creator, Who made the Earth by his power, stretched out the heavens by his understanding, holding all with the word of His power, became the integral part of both common culture and individual consciousness. In the same place, where the notion of a Creator was absent, there had not been a search for laws and some of the discoveries (ex. Archimedes law) were the product not of research, but of sudden brilliant inspirations while solving purely practical tasks.

Faith in the perfect character of God's creation inspired Johannes Kepler, the theologian and naturalist, to spend several years of his life on the clarification of the reason for the disparity in the observable movement of Mars like the notions of both Ptolemy and Koppernigk (depending on the chosen system of counting). The discovering of the Kepler laws and also the successful solution by Newton of the task of finding the force of interaction of heavenly bodies, proceeding from the character of their movement, resulted in the discovery of the law of gravitational interaction which laid the foundation of theoretical mechanics, and truly was recognized as the most convincing proof of the validity of the postulates on unity and intelligence of the laws of the universe.

Representatives of the so-called "strong scientism" reject the very possibility of dependence on scientific conclusions from the religious premises of research, presenting in that way the clearest example of "proofs from the desirable ". "Weak scientism" recognizes the presence of the religious premises of a scientific method, but counts them as insignificant for the results of research. The latter affirms that the conceptual construction is more grounded than the premises on which it is based; that is groundless from the point of view of logic. But the fact remains: natural science is the child of bible divinity. Science was even called "natural divinity" (and so the textbook on natural science by William Paley - author of the most well known definition of the theological argument of God's existence.)


However, the relationship between science and Christian religion over the last 150 years remind us of the characters from the parable of the prodigal son in the Gospel. Having achieved certain results in its area (study of the material world), natural science has taken its part of the father's property and is moving on to the far country - to the area of the religion of materialism and atheism. The fourth principle - naturalism was added to the three primary global principles of science (casualty, universality and rationalism). Naturalism says: everything in the world has only natural reasons. This principle also carries a purely religious character and cannot be checked by scientific means.

To the three pragmatic, self-rationalizing, religious principles were added one more, also accepted by faith, which a priori is not provable or refutable (the impossibility of detecting the supernatural by means of natural sciences is as natural, as the impossibility of detecting color through the means of a hearing device). Thus, science has not become a less religious matter at all.


Nevertheless, more and more data has been found in the process of further accumulation of the scientific facts which contradict the idea of naturalism. Thus, the discovering of the red shift in a spectrum of galaxies and background radiation has made cosmologists recognize the fact of the beginning of the Universe. Since our Universe with space, time, matter and energy, had a beginning, the reason, which has caused this should be outside of matter/energy (i.e. supernatural), outside of space (i.e. infinite), and outside of time (i.e. eternal). We agree that we have already heard about this from somewhere. The pun has turned out to be tremendous: Naturalistic-cosmologists have come across the old Cosmological argument for the existence of God again. Robert Jastrow, the director of the Institute of Space Research (USA) describes the dramatic character of that situation in the following way:

For the scientist, who lives by faith in his own intelligence, the end of the way is turning out to be a horrible dream. He is climbing up a mountain of ignorance and he is about to reach the top. As soon as he is ready to make his last push and almost stands on the top, he is welcomed by the company of theologians, who have been seating there for centuries (Jastrow).


The theological argument for the existence of God, mentioned earlier has gained an unexpected meaning in the light of contemporary scientific discoveries. The Paley argument briefly was formulated as follows: the watch (considered to be a rather small and simple device) has an intelligent designer - the watch-maker; therefore, the Universe (a large device), full of biological objects, (more complex devices than the watch) should have a great Designer - a Creator. The occasion when Isaac Newton's friend - an agnostic (in those times the notion of the word agnostic was the euphemism for the word "atheist" and was considered to be indecent) came to see him serves as an example of the practical application of this argument. He was startled by the elegance of the moving metal model of the Solar system sitting on the table of the scientist. "Who has made this miracle? "- the visitor asked. "Nobody, -answered Newton, - it was formed by itself". "You are kidding" - said the skeptic. The scientist looked at him intently, and sadly concluded: "You cannot believe, that this primitive copy was formed by itself, how then can you believe, that the more complex original has appeared by chance?"

However, this obvious argument seemed to be faultless only on the level of school textbooks. Opponents determined to criticize categorically rejected this argument since it was constructed on similarity. Arguments constructed "by analogy" are considered to have a lower logic modality, and, therefore, by definition are not grounded.

However, in the process of studying the complexity of the structure of various living creatures' organs (including those, which were called "elementary" by the irony of history) the limit of the least possible complexity of a functioning organ was found, which was called irreducible complexity.

It is possible to assume, that the organs with irreducible complexity were developing in some way and became complicated in time; but this process initially should have begun from the already completed constructive decision. It means that the simplest elementary part of their construction was not able to appear by means of natural spontaneous development of the mechanism; the mechanism simply would not exist if it had been short of even one element (Behe). The phenomenon of irreducible complexity has offered proof, more than that - the imperative form of the theological argument is now based not on analogy, but on the impossibility of the accidental formation of the construction of the irreducible complexity level.


The development of the theory of information on the one hand, and genetics and molecular biology on the other hand have given a completely new appearance to the theistic argument. The statistical impossibility of an accidental natural appearance of at least one molecule of protein is a well-known fact. But the issue is not settled by this.

Anyone who is somewhat familiar with the program SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) will gladly explain the reason why to this day none of the registered signals from space have proved the existence of intelligent life outside the Earth, despite the billions of dollars spent by the tax-payers on this project. (From where the superstition about the existence of ETI appeared is the subject for a separate discussion, but without the superstitious naturalism of scientists it has not been done.) The point is that none of the radio signals coming from space contains signs of a code presence. According to the definitions in the theory of information, the presence of a code is the main attribute of intelligent information, which is always coming only from an intelligent source, and without the influence of the mind can either be kept, or be lost. The information contained in the DNA of every living organism appears to be in exactly this kind of a complex code. It means that if we are consecutive and make unbiased conclusions, this information will testify about the intelligent Source.

Moreover, the degree of efficiency in processing, rewriting and storing this information is amazing. If the failures in the performance of the programs which have been written down on a DNA molecule, as though by chance, occurred as frequently as they occur in the best samples of the software created by the collective intelligence of the leading experts of the world, there would be nobody to work for Microsoft.

The well known expert in the field of the theory of the information, director of the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology, professor Werner Ghitt has counted up, that if we write down the information of all libraries of the world on super-modern microchips of computer memory, they will make a pile, proportionate to the height of the distance from the Earth up to the Moon. But if we write down the same amount of information on a DNA molecule, the volume of the carrier of the information would not exceed 1% of the size of a pin head! Although, the best experts in the world in the field of information technologies are working on the creation of mega-chips, the density of the record of information in biological systems 1013 times exceeds the best achievement of human reason. Thus, the statements about their accidental appearance require more blind faith, than the assumption of the intelligent Creator (Ghitt).

But the miracles do not come to an end with this. Detection of the so-called phenomenon of "overlapped genes" has become one of the latest, most amazing discoveries in genetics. The elementary acellular organism - bacteriophage jX174 is remarkable in that it does not receive enough information to reproduce its own protein, having read its DNA only once. The problem is solved by reading the information written down on a DNA molecule three times, beginning every time from the following point. The most remarkable thing is that all three times we have the meaningful message making the program of the reproduction of the organism's protein. None of the computer emulations allows for the creation of similar "packaging" of the meaningful messages, if not on the semantic level than at least on the syntactic level. (Turner).


The statement that "God is the God of white spots" was one of the commercial "slogans" of methodological naturalism. It was supposed by that, that some people are coming to the saving idea of God for an explanation of what has not been comprehended by science yet, but in the process of development of our understanding of the scientific picture of the world the representation of God - Creator will be superseded from all areas of science. However, as we go more deeply into the studying the universe, we discover more evidences of order, structure and the intelligent plan in it, which was accurately called by one modern astronomer as "fingerprints of the Creator ". In making an unbiased choice between two religious systems - Christian theism and materialistic naturalism, there remains less and less space for the latter one, and now we have to speak more about the "atheism of the white spots".

We are witnessing the story of the Prodigal son coming to an end today. Natural science - "natural theology" - is coming back into the bosom of general theology, the son is moving towards meeting the father, who has already started going towards him. It looks like science stands on a threshold of fundamental change of the paradigm. More scientists of natural science are coming to the conclusions expressed by the Nobel Prize laureate, founder of quantum mechanics, Max Planck:

Religion and science do not exclude each other at all, as it was believed earlier and what our contemporaries are afraid of is that, on the contrary, they coordinate and supplement each other. Both - religion and natural science - require faith in God for their grounds, but for the first (religion) God stands in the beginning, for the second (science) - at the end of all thinking. For religion, he represents the foundation, for science - a crown of worldview development.

We all look at the scientific facts through glasses of our own worldview. Whether we perceive the facts correctly depends on the glasses we wear. What we observe, - as it was noticed by the other Nobel Prize laureate, Werner Heisenberg, - is not the nature itself, but the nature, which is shown in a form that we imagine because of our own way of stating questions.

Therefore, it is extremely necessary for us to remove our glasses from time to time, even if we love them so much…, and try on other ones. A lot of misunderstandings can be eliminated, if we look at a problem through the eyes of the opponent. This is what the Word of God requires from man, calling him to test everything, and to understand what he believes in. The same is required from us by the principle of intellectual honesty.

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Johnson Phillip E. Reason in the Balance. - InterVarsity Press, 1995.- 245 p.
Werner Ghitt. Information - third fundamental category.
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