Taking Science on Faith
“I swear you treat science like religion.” – Anonymous, addressing me
“Clearly, then, both religion and science are founded on faith — namely, on belief in the existence of something outside the universe, like an unexplained God or an unexplained set of physical laws, maybe even a huge ensemble of unseen universes, too. For that reason, both monotheistic religion and orthodox science fail to provide a complete account of physical existence.” – Paul C. Davies, excerpt from his New York Times op-ed
I would like to respond to this idea that science is, essentially, another faith. This is one of the many straw-man arguments used to undermine scientific thinking. It is also usually made by first equivocating on what the term “faith” means. This fallacy then forms the bedrock of the argument.
The scientific method is the only process available to us that we can use to add to our body of knowledge. It is strictly methodologically naturalistic – there is no room for the supernatural, or dogma for that matter, in its explanations. When scientists do not know something, they readily admit it. They do not fill in the gaps with explanations that are deeply irrational. As Thomas Jefferson said, “He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” This is exactly the position science advocates.
Many will claim that the universe and its physical laws must have had a creator. We should have graduated from this way of thinking long ago. For example, there are not many people today who blame tsunamis and hurricanes on Poseidon. That science cannot currently explain why physical laws and constants exist as they do is no reason to claim that science is fundamentally founded upon faith and irrationality.