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Reader discretion is advised.
Many have said, “Science is just another religion.” But is that true? I am not going to answer that question. The reader can decide, based on the definitions below, and if he/she is honest with themselves he/she will not try to fit round pegs into square holes.
Here are some definitions to get us started (these are from Merriam-Webster):
science: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses
religion: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
Science involves following the scientific method which was invented by Francis Bacon in the 17th century. He was greatly inspired by the work of Copernicus and Galileo.
The method was written down and has been used by the scientific community ever since.
So in that way, science is like a religion. Something was written down in a book a long, long time ago.
Where science differs from religion is that the scientific method includes an error-correcting mechanism. A scientist must prove what they discovered and if it can’t be duplicated by another person, it falls under scrutiny. A theory that can’t be proved is just a theory and will be replaced by a better theory if scientific experimentation or mathematics yields a more correct result.
This process continues and theory will either remain theory or be proven.
The religion I am comparing with science is written religion. I am not talking about a person’s individual spirituality. I’m not talking about meditating or breathing fresh air and clearing the mind. We all can sit down and close our eyes and connect with the world around us. I am talking about book religion.
Book religion doesn’t change. What is written in the book is the word of the deity who penned it and there is no defined religious method to scrutinize or correct it. Sure, it can be interpreted in many different ways. Just the other day, I was reading Lander 7’s post about all the artwork that exists of Moses with devil horns! That was due to a “mistranslation” of Exodus 34:29-30.
There are undefined error-correcting mechanisms and those are re-translation and re-interpretation. The method of re-interpretation can be good. It is what has allowed some denominations to open their doors to previously unwelcome groups like homosexuals.
The only other error-correcting mechanism in religion is the “direct hotline”. A person who claims God is speaking to them directly. They can skip the book study and give us the new version straight from the source.
I have been guilty of opening the Bible to get a few laughs. But it’s no laughing matter. There are stories in that thing that should be discarded like old medical literature that says masturbating will make you go blind.
But this post is about science vs. religion. Is science just another religion, or are we comparing apples to oranges?
A post I wrote recently had people wondering, “What do I believe?” Should a person who is born and chooses not to believe in a book that was written need to carry a label at all? I believe in what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If that turns out to be a deity in the clouds or Bigfoot, I’ll drink the Kool-Aid with you, but first I require at least some proof.
So I guess my “religion” is science as some have suggested. But is it really a religion, or is it a methodology to guide experimentation in a reproducible manner?
That’s the question. Is science a religion?