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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Science <> Religion

Jose, over at Meme Therapy just quizzed me for one of their "Brain Parades". One of the questions he asked me, and subsequent browsing of the site, ignited a pet peeve of mine:


“No, Mr. Swann,” you say, “I don’t treat science like religion, no-sir-ee. I understand that science is directly opposed to religion—”


(ok, deep breath, I’m better.)

Here is my point. When you, mister fundamentalist, and you mister scientist, set up science and religion as opposing poles on an intellectual continuum, you set both up as equivalent mutually-exclusive alternatives. Most of you with this problem get the “mutually-exclusive” part. What you don’t get is the “equivalent” part. By setting these things in opposition, you are maintaining that they are the same sort of thing. They aren’t. The only thing they have in common is that both provide some explanation of the nature of the physical world. This isn’t even the most important aspect of religion, as most religions can exist when scriptural definitions of the physical world are taken metaphorically. There is no metaphor in science; there is no philosophy in science. Science is observable fact. Period. End of sentence.

If you believe that science supports an atheist worldview, you are as badly and dangerously deluded as the poor evangelical Christian who doesn’t understand that Creation Science/Intelligent Design (or whatever you want to call it) is not a valid scientific theory.

If you still don’t get it, here it is in small words:

Science deals in observable facts. A scientific theory must provide an explanation of those facts that can be tested.

How does one going about testing for God? Please tell me. I'd like to know.

While you’re at it, perhaps you can ponder how one can produce any sort of meaning, ethics, or morality from the scientific method? (And those of you who started along the lines of “The greatest good for the greatest number,” or “treat people how you would wish to be treated”— You all better start over, since the only observable concrete facts in those two premises are “number,” “people,” and “you.” )


Anonymous said...

I don't know where to begin here, except to say, "Bravo!"

This is an argument that is made all too infrequently and it's hard not to get drawn into the "science and religion are mortal enemies" debate. Especially for someone who is angry about the stupid "Creation Science" movement.

Thanks for speaking plainly and making the point everyone should be watching.