I apologize for taking so long to get back to you, but I've...oh never mind--it's the same old story, so let's just get to the heart of the matter.

Is science a religion as Evan seems to believe? No.

Let's begin with some established definitions. According to dictionary.com, science is


the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

Religion, also from dictionary.com, is


belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

Seems clear enough to me. Science is built upon facts--things you can prove with experiments--and religion is based on things that cannot be proven. You cannot prove there is a god or that Jesus rose from the dead or that Mohammed is a prophet of Allah. Religion is based on faith in these things. Religious leaders stress faith so much because that's all they have. To be religious you must believe without seeing.

In science, if you can't prove it--if you can't produce some facts to support your claims--you have nothing. These are fundamental differences and you've really got to use some distorted logic to suggest they are or can be the same. To say that science is a religion of its own is to strip the word (religion, that is) of its meaning. Science is no more a religion than my trust in the the TV Guide is a religion. Sure, there's no way to "know" that the show they say is going to be on is actually going to be on unless I wait for the appointed time and see for myself. But years of experience have taught us that it's not unreasoble to take the guide on its word. That's not religion--it's common sense.

If, on the other hand, you believe in an almighty God and that Christ rose from the dead, that can only be based on faith and faith alone. Because there is no earthly evidence to support your claims. I should point out that that does not necessarily mean you are wrong. Maybe there is a God and we just haven't found the proof. Maybe we never will. But there may very well be a God. What is at issue is the fact that it cannot be proven in any way whatsoever.

Science is a completely different matter. In the sciences, we observe. From these observations we concoct hypotheses to explain these observations. Then we design experiments specifically to test our hypotheses. Sometimes these experiments provide further support for our hypotheses and we continue to test them over and over again. Other times, our experiments reveal that we were wrong. Then we take these new observations and develop new hypotheses. And the process continues.

Sometimes, a hypothesis will go many years without any contrary observations, but then suddenly something new will appear. Someone will do a test that doesn't jive with the hypothesis or new technology will allow us to see and observe things we couldn't before. Then, as before, we modify our hypotheses and the process continues again. There is no way this process can be confused with religion.

I should point out--if it wasn't already obvious--that scientists are indeed human and possess all the flaws so common to the species. We can suffer from pride and narrow-mindedness, etc. And when the evidence for a particular hypothesis is so overwhelming, it can be hard to let in other competing ideas. But keep in mind that this is not because we have such strong faith, but because years and years of evidence has supported these hypotheses.

Sometimes, egos can get in the way and people can be too eager to defend their own hypotheses precisely because they are their own. But in the end, science, not egos, always wins. There are no scientists that still believe electrons are like tiny marbles or that the earth is the center of the universe. Science is based on facts and the facts don't support those ideas anymore.

In this post, I'm not trying to argue which is superior--if you read my past posts, you probably already know where I stand. But these are two completely different realms with very little, if any, overlap.

Well, this is getting a little long, so I'll just wrap up with one last thought. Evan, you mentiond that science has taught a number of contrary ideas over the course of your lifetime as if that were the nail in the coffin for all of science. The vast majority of science has been slowly progressing since the beginning of human thought. Progressing by tiny steps and the occasianal quantum leap. Never has the whole of science been scraped. And most importantly, science has always taught the facts and our best explanations for those facts. And as new facts have arisen, so have new explanations. The facts that led people to believe electrons were like tiny marbles were't false, they just weren't all the facts. But they were all we had at the time. When new facts arose, we modified our hypotheses and continued to test them and advance the field. That process is what science is and there's no confusing that with religion.

Thanks for your comments, nonetheless.

3 comments

Blogger PlanetRandom  said...

Hey I was cruising blogs and found this an interesting post. This is not an advertisement.

I think TRUE science when not used and studied for the purpose of personal argument is not a religion. But, the way I see it, science itself has developed a popularized dimension where it is used for that aforementioned purpose. Your definition of science is a discipline built upon the directions of facts, and this is true.

"Sometimes, egos can get in the way and people can be too eager to defend their own hypotheses precisely because they are their own."

This is absolutely true. But approaching it from another direction, perhaps the very virtues of science can be torn out of context for the PURPOSE of egotistical personal fulfillment?

For example, the Big Bang does NOT explain the creation of the universe. 13.3 billion years ago the universe was compacted into a few cubic centimeters, and the big bang is the theory that explains the interaction of energy and matter in those early periods and the resultant expansion of the universe (which is still in progress today). The point is though, that atheists have taken the Big Bang theory and claimed it scientific "property" for the cause of their personal beliefs.
Thus, science, in many of its components and facades, has become a substance of popularized, religion.

TRUE Science indeed is very different from religion, it is a way to connection with our reckoning of what is possible to know in our universe, while Religion is the way in which Humans connect with that which we do not know. Both are equally important.

Thursday, September 15, 2005  

Blogger rockstar_wanna_be  said...

ROCK ON!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005  

Blogger digdug  said...

On "Clarification for Evan"....you sound like you really DO know what your talking about. 'Bravo' Science and religion are about as different as apples and automobiles. If you dare to look, check out www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/allpossibleworlds.html

Monday, November 28, 2005  

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