Thursday, October 24, 2019

Science is Different

I've heard people say recently that the "intelligent design" theory should be taught alongside the theory of evolution, as they are both theories and should have equal representation in the schools.  Science, therefore, is really just another religion.

No, it isn't.  It is different in a very important way.

If you talk to a scientist about something he believes, some theory about the way things are, and suggest that he is wrong, the scientist will lean forward and ask you why you think what you do.  They will ask for details, challenge your evidence, and seek to understand your thought process.  If you can convince them that you are right and they are wrong, this is a great day for that scientist.  Being wrong is exactly what they want to happen.  The entire scientific method is designed to discover where our theories are incorrect or where there are things we simply didn't know at all.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it this way: "I love being wrong because that means, in that instant, I learned something new that day."  If you confirm that a scientist is right, that's fine, but they won't get excited.  You are telling them something they already know.  The entire purpose of science is to uncover new truth.

Religion, on the other hand, requires that it is always right.  A religious person already knows the nature of God, that he exists and what he wants from us.  They have texts they study because they believe the texts are absolutely correct.  Their own personal understanding of them might be lacking, and so they will engage in "Bible study" or something similar, but the thing they are studying is unassailably correct.  It must be.

If you tell a religious person that you believe something different than they do, they will assail your beliefs,  They will react with anger and feel insulted.  They will call you a name, like "infidel". They may, in fact, decide to kill you.  They may decide, because you believe differently than they do, that they are justified in blowing you up, or flying a jumbo jet into your building, or burning you alive.

Religion says it knows the truth already,

If Science knew everything already, then it would cease to be necessary and the entire scientific effort would stop. If course, we'll never know everything, and so science will go on as long as there are people with curiosity and intellect.

If a religion were to be shown to be wrong, it would die.  That's why religious people react to challenges the way they do.  Being wrong is dangerous and scary.  You are threatening something they've committed to, perhaps given money to, maybe raised their children to believe.  The cognitive dissonance they feel when you tell them they are wrong is intolerable to them.

They have to shut you up.  And so they will.

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