The other day at dinner I heard someone claim that “science is just another religion.”
It is most certainly not.
I’ve learned to pick my battles when it comes to responding to outlandish statements in a crowd which wouldn’t appreciate my response anyhow, as I’m sure no real productive ground would’ve been covered by a discussion in the first place. Thus, when I heard this, I just kept my mouth on my margarita to avoid bursting anyone’s bubble in exchange for enjoying the awesome Mexican food in front of me.
“Science is just another religion.” Let’s deconstruct this. This is a pathetic attempt at lowering science to the level of superstition. Lumping science in the same group as religion is, to me, not only impossible, not only preposterous, but highly offensive to anyone who appreciates the value and power of the scientific method, including myself. To be so bold as to claim that it requires the same amount of faith to believe what science tells us about the world as it does to believe in any particular religious or supernatural claim is laughable. The only way it’s possible to accept something so ridiculous as this is if you dilute your definition of the word “faith” to mean “anything less than absolute certainty.” Since there is no absolute certainty of anything (yes, even in science), then everything must necessarily require “faith” according to that definition. And at that point, what good is using the word “faith” anyhow if it can be applied universally to everything all at once?
I don’t know about you, but I do not use faith to assume there will be a floor underneath my feet when I get out of bed in the morning. Applying the scientific method to every morning I’ve ever gotten out of bed has demonstrated to me that it is overwhelmingly likely that there will be a floor there. There is no room for faith in this situation, the mountain of evidence is more than sufficient to assume this. The same is true in assuming that the sun will rise each morning, or in assuming that a chair won’t break when you sit on it. Where there is room for faith is in the claims of the supernatural, whether they be religious or not. Supernatural claims either have insufficient evidence to support them (where believing them before such a time would necessarily require faith) or they are unfalsifiable, meaning the scientific method cannot apply (this is not a limitation of the scientific method, but rather a crippling limitation regarding the validity of such claims).
Another difference between science and religion is that the scientific community is full of nerds who are desperately trying to beat all the other nerds in discovering the next big thing. And just as soon as someone does, they’ve got throngs of other nerds ready and willing to tear down their idea. This ensures that bad ideas are thrown out and good ideas are kept around and built upon. This is exactly the opposite of most religions. What you have with most religions are groups of people (usually not scientists) all spouting the same tired drivel, never questioning, never vetting old conventions in exchange for newer and better ones. This is the worst path to truth imaginable.
I’ll never understand some people’s fear of science, and frankly, I’d rather not go down that rabbit hole at all. Science is the single most reliable method the human race has devised for constructing models that help us better understand our universe. This better understanding of reality has given rise to harnessing the power of electricity, antibiotics, vaccines, evolutionary biology, the internet, genetic engineering, and artificial intelligence, among others. What groundbreaking, life-changing discoveries have been realized through divine revelation or transcendental meditation? The answer is zero. Zero groundbreaking, life-changing discoveries.
“Science is just another religion”? Please. And Whitney Houston was just another pop artist.