Religion vs. science
It is often said that "science is just another religion". This is certainly true if you define your terms narrowly enough.
Religion and science have the following characteristics in common:
- Both are collections of beliefs
Religion and science are different in the following ways:
|There are multiple religions, each of which disagrees with the others on certain points||There is only one body of science, with sub-branches – but nothing within each branch conflicts with knowledge in the other branches|
|Each religion's belief-set depends ultimately on black box explanations which cannot be further investigated||Anything science can't explain is left as an open question, to be studied further and eventually answered|
|New knowledge must be shown to fit within the existing belief-set||New knowledge often overturns significant areas of scientific understanding|
|Religion has a membership: you either belong to a particular religion or you don't||Science has no membership; anyone can be a scientist, and there are no universal requirements for attending scientific meetings|
|Each religion has a set of core beliefs with which all members must agree, or be disqualified from membership||Science has no beliefs which cannot, in theory, be overturned by new observations|
- What incidents have there been, either historically or recently, of individuals or groups being inspired to commit violence "in the name of science"? How does the resulting list compare to the record of violence committed "in the name of" God or any other religious figure?
- Should the comparison be between (a) deeds done in the name of religion and (b) deeds made possible by science, such as Hiroshima? (Personally, I don't think this is a fair comparison, as any tool can be misused; the debate should be over whether the usage was appropriate, and if it was inappropriate we need to figure out how to prevent inapprorpriate uses – but I suspect this point will come up, so a more detailed rebuttal might be a good idea. --Woozle 09:23, 1 October 2006 (EDT))
- 2006-10-08 Groupthink and the Intellectual Elite by Orson Scott Card: the section on string theory, especially the part titled "Faith Factor", gives an example of a new area of science which became more like a religion – and thereby stopped being science
- 2006-01-03 In Praise of Godless Science
- 1999-01 Positivism: The Father of Naturalism from The Roman Theological Forum
- 2006-09-10 Beliefs (XKCD)
|The incantatory mind set probably STILL makes up a majority of the human species. In most civilizations, it was THE official mind set... that the greatest power is achieved through right incantations.
The fact is that opponents of science cannot view science except as a competitor or rival to their own preferred incantatory systems. Hence the profound hostility toward science that you see among romantics of all stripes, including BOTH the "far right" and the "far left."
In parsing their disdain for science, they reveal their inclination by constantly misunderstanding (or deliberately misconstruing) what science is about. The postmodernists say that it is just another system of incantatory semantics, and a rather oppressively bullying one. The neocons and fundies call it "just another religion" without ever pondering how this logically disses religion, in genral!
It is useless to try (endlessly) to explain the myriad ways that science is simply OUTSIDE of the incantatory worldview. Indeed, there is a very real minority of SCIENTISTS who – by fundamental personality – can never escape viewing their fields through the lense of incantation.