Monday, February 2, 2015

Is Science a Religion?


Given some online debates, I will briefly consider the science = religion equation. I don't see science as a religion (although those who do need to admit that science is the only religion whose "miracles" can be openly demonstrated on a daily basis, rather being taken on "faith").

I classify both science and religion as philosophies.  

Science attempts to explain the nature of reality.  Religion both attempts to explain the nature of reality and outlines a code of conduct by which people need to live their lives; religion fuses the natural and supernatural, the material and the spiritual. Science deals only with the material, natural world.

My claim that science doesn't attempt to tell people what to do and how to live will be met with skepticism.  Aren't those dastardly "scientists" (more often technicians such as medical doctors or just the media or politicians who use cherry picked science) always telling us what to do?  Just like the priests?

There is a difference.  When a priest, reverend, rabbi, or imam tells us what to do, their recommendation is part of the religion itself.  The recommendations of "scientists" are not science, they are merely human value judgments on how best to use the current knowledge of the findings of science.  Those value judgments are not science.  The value judgements of  Pope Immigration or Rabbi Hooknose or whomever is religion itself. The prescription "thou shalt not kill" is religion itself, immutable for millennia (albeit not often followed). The prescription "eat less fat" is not science, it is merely a doctor or Yahoo writer making a value judgment based on certain predictions and observations produced from science (the scientific method [the philosophical core of science] and its predictions and observations are science, not recommendations humans derive from science).

In fact, it is the public who want, who demand, that science be a religion, which is why they become angry and disillusioned when scientific studies contradict each other, and when scientists cannot give a definitive answer.  It's the public who demands a science that cannot be questioned.  Science is all about questioning.  Indeed, scientists and philosophers of science even question the scientific method itself.  Scientists (not the public) question science far more than the religious faithful even consider the possibility that what they believe is not true.

Of course, the same way that Marxism is a secular religion, one could in theory say the same about science and the scientific method.  Although, as stated, pure science questions everything, including itself, while the tents of Marxism increasingly became fossilized into blind faith.  So, Marxism is more similar to standard religion (hence the homicidal animus of Marxism to religion) than it is to science.

Having said all of this, science cannot serve as a substitute for religion, even if it wanted to - since it has empirically failed to do so.  Using scientific principles of observation, we see that the most scientific of peoples - Europeans - are being out competed by more primitive coloreds, some of these who are religious. Science is a philosophical tool, it cannot serve as the basis for a people's will to survive. For that, some sort of "religion" is required - e.g., Cosmotheism or a more rational version of Creativity (no "salubrious living" please).