SCIENTIFIC METHODS OF INVESTIGATION
EVERYTHING that is subject to scientific investigation must be studied in the light of related facts, since certain laws govern the phenomena within the sphere of investigation. In the field of the natural sciences, for example, that equipment must be employed that adapts itself to the subject in hand. In chemistry test tubes and other apparatus are needed in the study of the various elements; and, in physics, research in nuclear energy requires a large laboratory and intricate, delicate, and technical equipment.
On the other hand, to further the study of celestial phenomena, the astronomer has developed mammoth, but extremely delicate, telescopes like the equipment in the observatory on Mount Palomar, California. He must master, not only astronomy, but also higher mathematics and celestial physics. That the principles, discussed above, for which I am contending are correct is admitted by all thinking people.
The scientist must seek for truths, facts, and principles. The theologian must come in the same spirit and with all the training and equipment needed for his special work in order to arrive at the goal of truth.
In an interview which I had with Dr. Joseph Klausner in 1937, when I was in Jerusalem, he insisted that a student of the Scriptures should be guided by the spirit of scientific investigation. Then he stated that he was aware of my knowing what constitutes the scientific spirit, but that he wanted to tell me in his own words his idea of a true scientist (he was speaking in modern Hebrew, but we had a good interpreter). In effect he said that one who has a scientific mind and spirit has one, and only one, objective in view, namely, the discovery of truth. The true scientific investigator never searches for truth to support his theories or his own ideas. He wants truth and truth alone. He faces any new investigation with the thought that, if he discovers anything that upsets or disproves his former ideas or theories, he will accept truth and facts and repudiate what he formerly believed. I thoroughly agree with Dr. Klausner on this point. He is absolutely right in his contention.
In substance I replied to him: The search for truth might be illustrated by the work of the archaeologist. Some of the Palestinian sites, such as Megiddo, Biesan, Lachish, Jericho, Kiriath-sepher, and others, have been partially excavated. The scientific archaeologist recognizes that these mounds contain various levels, each of which is the remains of a destroyed city. The lowest of these is the remains of the first or oldest city that was built upon the mound. The highest level is the ruins of the last city and its civilization. Whenever one of the cities was destroyed, perhaps by a war, either the former inhabitants or immigrants already in the country would build a new city upon the ruins of the old. Thus through the centuries these mounds kept growing in height.
As each level is excavated, the archaeologist makes a full and accurate account of the different artifacts discovered. In this way, with a fair degree of accuracy, he can discover the relationship that the various finds and civilization have to each other and can work out a scheme of chronology. He examines each object carefully and thoroughly in its original setting. He lays aside any former conception that clashes with newly discovered and established data. Such is the procedure of the scientific truth-seeker who is motivated by the truly scientific spirit.