There is a strong difference between science and the humanities, including disciplines such as philosophy and theology. Those who follow scientism (the belief that science alone is the highest human discipline) often seem to be very confused about how science cannot study, research, analyze, and then from that explain the who, what, when, where, and why of all of the physical world.
A great example, ironically from the atheist camp, illustrates this point. In his book The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bobby Henderson explains how global warming is a result of the decrease of the number of pirates on the planet. He argues that because global temperatures have increased and the number of pirates have decreased over the same period of time, then they must have a causal relationship; viz. one made the other one happen.
Did you spot the major flaw in that argument? How could it be even likely that fewer pirates have had that sort of impact? Science can only show that global temperatures have gone up and the number of pirates have declined. Science ends with the collection and presentation of data. After that comes the need for chin-scratching, question-asking, and theory-creating. Henderson comically leaps to the conclusion that these two pieces of data must be related, and therefore the solution is to recruit more people to become gold-hungry buccaneers in order to save the planet.
A real-world case would be… wait for it… evolutionary science. (Here is my beef with both science and Christian apologists including Ken Ham and the folks at the Creation Museum.) Science can find artifacts, analyze them, suggest how old they are, analyze their structures and compare them to other artifacts. What science cannot do is suggest relationship between organisms, suggest that one “evolved” from another, that they all have a common ancestor, or that there was no action from God to have started or completed the whole process (which they cannot adequately describe). All they can do is present the pieces of the puzzle.
Ever tried to put together a secondhand jigsaw puzzle? Missing edge pieces, ripped pieces, and a whole mess of sky that has gone missing is enough to send any puzzler away crying. Imagine a puzzle with more than a million pieces and only having about a hundred, none of which connect with another. This is what evolutionary theory is built on. And even so it has done a pretty good job! If you look at what Darwin says in his Origin of Species and try to find where current scientific research cannot fall in line with it, well, good luck. It does seem to be very cohesive!
But a cohesive explanation does not mean that it must be the truth.
On the other hand, if you happen to be traveling in the area of southwestern Ohio, stop in to see the Creation Museum. What you will not see is any scientific evidence that is used to support evolution. None. There is no evidence of “primitive man” to even miss. Ham does not have any trouble with dinosaurs, to which there is a whole wing dedicated. But other artifacts are not present. Why? I can only speculate that Ham and his team have no reasonable explanation for them. What does this do to their illegitimacy in the scientific community? Well, let’s just say that Miss Piggy gets more respect in the barnyard.
The distance between science and the humanities does not stop with evolution. The now classic movie Jurassic Park dramatizes how going unchecked science can reek havoc on the world! There are laboratories that are not bringing dinosaurs back from extinction, but which are manufacturing “superbugs,” essentially unstoppable viruses simply because they can and to study them. What happens if a virus like that gets loose? What happens if one worker gets an idea to help with overpopulation?
Science needs disciplines like morality, philosophy, and theology to not only help answer the whys and hows, but to keep it going in a reasonable and helpful track. Just because science can doesn’t mean it should. Just because science uncovers evidence that fits a theory, does not mean that the theory is truth. Philosophers, people of faith and scientists need to come together in their search for truth. Archaeological evidence needs to be examined by all parties to discover what it may tell us about our past as a species and about Earth our home.