Do we have to think Scientifically to Find the Truth

Truth is a very slippery concept and various people would define it in wildly different ways. In the Enlightenment a notion of absolute truth was one of the key heuristics of the movement towards the modern worldview of science. This is the idea that there is a single truth of the matter about any given issue and that it can be uncovered using the scientific method. This has been challenged, particularly in recent years, by those who have fallen instead into a disturbing epistemological relativism.

Whether we need science to find the truth thus depends on whether we are looking for THE truth or just any old truth that happens to be appealing to us. The former is the kind of truth that can only be obtained using the scientific method and sound logical reasoning. It is this kind of truth that has allowed the construction and continued evolution of human civilization. It is the kind of truth that has allowed us to cure diseases, build computers, and put men on the moon.

The latter is the kind of truth of fundamentalist faith, and New Age spirituality, and those of an anti-scientific persuasion who apologize for these groups. If we’re prepared to settle for superficially appealing truths that offer nothing of any substance when pressed then we don’t need science. If we want truth that actually does something of practical use to us, that furthers our understanding of the world, and continually expands our possibilities for successful action, then we do need science.