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The Scientific Faith

Science, like religion, is based on "faith" (see "The Ten Assumptions of Science" and its full exposition in "The Scientific Worldview.") Science has one set of deterministic assumptions and religion has the opposing set of indeterministic assumptions. In an infinite universe, none of these fundamental assumptions can be proven beyond doubt. For instance, scientists "know" that all effects have material causes, but until we find out the causes for every effect, we cannot "prove" that assumption. This "proof" is impossible in an infinite universe, so there always will be a debate between determinists and indeterminists. Aside from their opposing assumptions, the primary distinction between science and religion is the insistence among competent scientists that ideas, theories, and assumptions be tested trough interaction with the external world. The whole structure of science is built upon these real-world tests involving observation and experiment. Because the real world accomodates this process, there is the possibility of agreement among scientists. This is not true of the various religions, whose imaginings dare not be tested lest they sink to the level of "scientism," the belief that the scientific method is the only way to truth. In other words, any interaction with the external world has a tendency to convert indeterminists into determinists. This is why the more educated, more broadly traveled, more experienced folks "tend to lose their religon" over time, while those who meditate, pray, confine themselves to convents, and avoid exposure to the scientific method, other religions, and other cultures do not. The upshot is that today's fast-paced globalization tends to make scientists of us all.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm... I've found the opposite to be true. As I've gone through my education, and I'm on the verge of completing the class component of my PhD work, I've found greater and greater faith in God and indeterminism alike. I've found that there are hypotheses that cannot be tested by science. And, sadly, I've found that most people who profess to be atheists don't have a very good understanding of religion--sad because while I am religious, I understand atheism quite well.

Isn't it a pity? George Harrison certainly said so.

Jason said...

Glenn,

Thanks for reading my ramblings over on NonModern. I enjoyed reading yours as well. I would say, however, that not all people of faith run away from serious thought and reason. I can think of a few Christian thinkers who have had an impact on my life and thought. C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and even scientists like Hugh Ross spring to mind.

Jason

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