About nine years ago, I was engaged in a discussion with a woman who was the science educator for county school system. At that time she was working on a Ph.D. in science education and the state’s leading university. During the conversation I said to her, “You know there is a problem with the present scientific method, namely, the null hypothesis. What does one do, when the null hypothesis is also true.” She looked at me with a startled expression: “How did you know that?” After all, I was a poor dumb preacher, and what is he supposed to known? I went on to explain that I had stumbled across the problem, while writing a master’s thesis in American Social and Intellectual History some 35 years earlier. It had turned out that both my thesis and my null hypothesis were true.
The problem with the present method is that it is too analytical. As one preacher declared some 8 years previous to my thesis, “We suffer from the paralysis of analysis.” We are good at breaking things down into bits and pieces, and we can analyze a subject to death. The big issue is how to deal with more than one thesis (the null hypothesis is one, especially, if it happens to be true). What we need is a more synthetical method. The Puritans use to have their lists of contrarieties. However, the best summary I have seen from the early period was made by a theological educator, so I understand, who was a great influence on the Puritans. He is reported to have said, “If the rule is true, and the exceptions are true, then the truth is both the rule and the exceptions.”
I might add that two poles, negative and positive, constitute an electric field, and two poles of a two sided precept or idea or doctrine sets up a tension in the mind of the believer which enables one to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic or, in short, a mature believer, God’s best subliminal advertisement for the attractiveness of the Gospel. It is regrettable that we have turned from the intellectual aspect of the Christian Faith, for we really need it now that we are on the verge of paradigm shifts the likes of which have never been seen or imagined. An old Puritan is reported to have put the problem for us in these words with reference to the word, “Our difficulty with the word lies in its perspicuity.” In other words, the clarity of the word is a real problem for us. Being clear and simple and plain, we think we have to understand it. The hard reality is that we have no depth perception in spiritual truths.