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Science is a religion

Dear TEDsters,

For almost a decade I've been appauled by people claiming that "if you don't trust science you're an idiot" or "Religion ha that's just for people who don't know facts!" or the really old "If you don't think I'm right you must be incompetent".
These arguments have been made by many scientific and religious fanatics alike.

Nowadays more and more people seem to confuse science with fact. Also there is the expression "to measure is to know" (at least in my language that is an expression). Although this is in part true this doesn't hold for the entire field of science and not even neccesarily for the most basic principles of science.

First of all let me state that I do not and can (probably) never know how you percieve the world as is the case for your ability to judge me.
Secondly even how you percieve the world changes during your lifetime as does it for me. Do you still remember how when you were young a kilometer seemed so large and tables seemed high etc.?

What we can do however is take an object (clone it) show it to everyone (which doesn't mean everyone has the same perception) and label that. This is for instance what we've done with a meter. Then we use a great invention called math to be able to do calculations with or about this object.
Up till now everything is fine ;)

Great scientists can percieve things differently. Einstein for instance saw a relation between energy, mass and the speed of light. Something nobody at that time saw, and probably many still do not. The fact is however that his equation is accurately describing/predicting many galactical events and phenomenon.

But we must NEVER forget that all we do is describe the events in such a way that our (math) explaination of it can insanely closely (up the the point where we have full believe in it) show what will happen.

The fundations of science however is that we believe what we percieve and we assume that when our describtion of it is correct the physics behind it is too.


Closing Statement from Richard Krooman

In this thread I try to take the point of view that all science is based upon the faith that our perceptions could be wrong and that therefor our scientific findings could be wrong. (This is not my personal view but I wanted to encourage people to see it like this.)
Also I try to enhance the point that although we are reasonably sure that we have accurately described certain observations throught the use of math it could always be possible that another explaination better describes this (aka einstein > newton).
Thirdly I wanted to focus on the 'unquestionability' of science where people always think that previous scientific findings are 100% fact. Even though there are many instances of previous scientific beliefs that have been falsified through the process of science. However the very idea that backs up science is that "something is true unless proven false" basically also means "A true scientist cannot ever be 100% sure of anything". Which than automatically makes it such that he has faith that previous findings are correct.

Quite a few people get a bit too hung up on the differences between science and religion that they forget to argue with the real point that I try to make.
And some people (falsly) believe that questioning science means that you disregard findings which "work" (especially examples with medicine are used in this thread).

Also too many people are thinking that the idea of God is somehow retarded because science has proven that there is none... which is also false. Science has just shown that to explain most things we do not need one (btw I am an atheist). And imo we cannot go into the argument because science can never prove that there is no God because he would be almighty (if he exists he can make us believe whatever we could believe).

The brain in the vat argument does well to make people think about the above concepts.

In the end I came to realize that it takes more faith, and less benefits, to believe in science than it does in God

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    Mar 15 2012: From Merriam-Webster:

    Definition of SCIENCE
    1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
    2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study
    b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge
    3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
    b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science
    4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws

    Definition of RELIGION
    1 a : the state of a religious
    b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
    2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
    3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
    4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    Therefore, science is *not* a religion.
    • Mar 15 2012: You being a student of philosophy..... I do hope that philosophical questions aren't answered using a dictionairy.
      Have you considered the possibility that science actually claims that our senses accurately describe the world to us? The only proof for this is that from science we gain ability to alter the world around us which (circular logic) leads us to believe we are right. So we do: Observation (it's cold) -> learn how to fix it (invent heater) -> put the heater on -> ahhh warm -> we must be right about what heat is.
      We invented fire long before we discovered atoms though... We melted things before we understood that the forces which atoms have upon eachother. etc. etc. etc.
      We might by using something now with great success which actually we don't understand at all (like light or magnetic forces).
      • Mar 15 2012: Science does not claim that our senses accurately describe the world to us. Otherwise we would not invent technologies to improve over those senses. It is not circular logic to be able to describe stuff and alter them in predictable ways. It is positive feedback. There is a difference that, if you are a philosopher, you should try and grasp. We did not invent fire, we found ways for making it ourselves and control it. So you might say we invented ways for making it ourselves and control it. That we don't fully understand a lot of stuff, yet we use it, still does not make science a religion. There are very important distinctions that cannot be ignored.
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        Mar 15 2012: Richard,

        OK, perhaps I could've been more thorough in my post, but I think my point still stands: there are important distinctions between science and religion, are there not? Does religion have the "rigor" in its methodology that science does? I do not believe so. There are a number of assumptions made in science, but it takes more than the making of assumptions to call something a religion.

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