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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: Perhaps religion is the wrong word as it brings supernatural forces to mind. Although many scientists profess a faith in the supernatural, the discipline itself is supposed to be strictly materialistic. Faith however is a more apt word. If I operate a light switch I have every faith that the light will operate, Bishop & Biologist alike have the same faith.
    I am reading a book called "Darwin's Black Box" by Michael Behe. The author is attempting to explain the intricacies of a living cell in layman's terms. He has his work cut out; a cell seems to be an engineering system beyond our present understanding. We've got enough understanding to realise just how far beyond us the design & manufacture of a similar system is. My faith (I'm an engineer) is in a being way beyond our understanding. How complex does a system have to be to be designed ?
    Evolutionary biologists have faith that these systems are the end result of millions of years of mutation (?) & natural selection . That is faith with a capital F, no doubt about it.
    Even without cells etc. just look around; is it "All" mutation & natural selection ? Nobody knows, so it's down to faith.

    • Mar 15 2012: Oh come on Pete! Not again this "evolutionary biologists have Faith" please. I have explained this many times to you. What will it take for you to understand my answers? I have no faith whatsoever that we are the result of evolution. The Evidence has convinced me, and that's it. End of discussion. Evidence with capital "E." Not faith. I accept evolution. I don't believe it. Got it?

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        Mar 15 2012: So we disagree, that's not a problem, after all we're only human.

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      Mar 16 2012: Peter,

      Why do you think that "evolutionary biologists have faith that these systems are the end result of millions of years of mutation (?) & natural selection"? Multicellular life has evolved in about 60 days,


      while fruit flies adapt to their new environments almost overnight:


      Do you still think that evolution is a matter of faith? You also state "If I operate a light switch I have every faith that the light will operate," which is not a matter of faith. Your expectation that the light will turn on when you flip the switch is based on induction, and inductive reasoning is not faith.

      "We can't know for sure, so it's a matter of faith" is a false dichotomy. Whether or not it is rational to believe in some belief B is not binary; that is, just because we can't know for sure doesn't mean that we ought to suspend judgement or that B is faith-based—it is a matter of degree. We can have good reason to believe B even if we cannot know B with certainty.
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        Mar 16 2012: Hi Paul.
        Quote from link.
        "Under artificial pressure to become larger, single-celled yeast became multicellular creatures".
        These things pop up every few weeks, usually they are discreetly put to bed at a later date. I'm no chemist, but isn't this stuff still yeast ? At any rate, if we succeed (as we may) in producing life in the lab, doesn't that just reinforce the notion that 'intelligence is required to produce life?

        No creationists has any problem with creatures adapting to their environment, that's normal. We have been breeding fruit flies for a century with the hope that would evolve into something else; we still get fruit flies.

        I don't play with words, it causes confusion. Call it something else if 'faith' isn't to your taste. I find the evidence for creation more compelling than for evolution, so I chose creation. I'm not certain, so to me it is faith. Evolutionists make the same decision.


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