Science and Religion incompatible?

“Thus the first step that the current scientific method is asking you to take is to assume that the facts that you meet are brute, that is, uninterpreted facts. I say you are asked to assume the existence of brute facts. If you did not assume this you could not be neutral with respect to various interpretations given of the facts. If God exists there are no brute facts; if God exists our study of facts must be the effort to know them as God wants them to be known by us. We must then seek to think God’s thoughts after him. To assume that there are brute facts is therefore to assume that God does not exist.

The second step that the current scientific method is asking you to take is to accept the position that theoretically any hypothesis is as good as any other. Satan first assumed and asked Eve to assume that facts are brute facts. On the basis of this assumption he then asked Eve to accept his hypothesis as being no less relevant than God’s hypothesis. He said in effect that he did not ask Eve to be unfair to God; he wanted her to consider God’s hypothesis no less than his own, and his own no less than God’s. In a similar way the current scientific method wants us to grant the theoretical relevancy of any hypothesis.

The third step which the current scientific method is asking you to take is to test the truth of any hypothesis by experience. Here, too, the temptation is the same in principle as that which came to Eve. Let us again begin Satan’s argument from the start. First, he asks Eve in effect to assume that the fruit of the tree in question is a brute fact. He insinuates that to hold anything different would be to degrade the originality of the human mind. To take for granted that all is interpreted in advance is to make science live by authority and that is to kill science. Secondly, he asks her to place the two mutually exclusive interpretations on a par with one another. Satan argues in effect that the question of being has no significance for the question of interpretation. That God claims to be the “Creator-being” and that He also claims Satan to be a mere “creature-being” should not influence Eve in the least. Therefore, in the third place, Satan argues that Eve ought to test the truth of the two hypotheses by experience. Surely that is fair. We must test all our theories by the facts of experience, must we not? What other way have you, Eve, of testing between two hypotheses that are at variance with one another? You cannot go back to the authority of God’s Word. That would be to go back on your first step. It would be to set one hypothesis above another at the outset. To be consistent you must take all three steps if you take one.”

(Van Til, Van Til’s Collection of Articles From 1920-1939)