This is a relatively newcomer in the fallacious arguments that theists are presenting, and it needs addressing. Science is derived from the Latin word ‘scientia‘ which means ‘knowledge‘, and is the systematic study of the natural world through observation, research, experimentation and scepticism applied by using the ‘scientific method‘, which is the only objective way to study the three main branches of science; ‘physics, chemistry, biology‘, and is briefly described in the below quote.
• Characterisations (observations, definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry)
• Hypotheses (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject)
• Predictions (inductive and deductive reasoning from the hypothesis or theory)
• Experiments (tests of all of the above) – Source
Once a scientific study is concluded, it’s then put forward, often in an article to be scrutinised by a ‘peer review’ to judge whether it’s credible enough in evidence to be published as a scientific theory. Often scientific theories are confused with standard theories, and it’s a common mistake by people who don’t understand the process of how a scientific theory comes about.
A ‘theory‘ is a basic idea of how to explain things that are often based on assumptions. ie: ‘In theory practise makes perfection‘. This has no basis of truth and is just simple guesswork as there’s no way of determining that practising something can make you better so as to teach the point of perfection.
A ‘scientific theory‘ is extremely different in the way that it’s based on fact as opposed to assumption. Take the theory of evolution as an example. It’s a fact that evolution is the basis of life and Darwin coined the phrase ‘natural selection‘ where he suggested that it’s not the strongest, or the fittest that will survive, it’s the species that’s most adaptable to change, and the evidence of this is in abundance. In opposition to evolution is ‘Intelligent Design‘ and that’s got no scientific basis and relies purely on speculation and assumption, so that’s a basic theory.
The notion from many modern theists that science is somehow a religion and faith based really grinds my gears. It’s nothing more than obtuse ignorance and there’s no excuse for it considering how readily available factual information can be obtained in this digital age. A religion is adoration for a deity/God or complete faith and trust in something that involves devotion. Science is the pursuit of information and facts through strict scepticism, and the necessity to find the truth, by using reason, logic and critical thinking.
How could science and religion ever be compatible?
I know that many of the world’s most notorious scientists had some form of religious faith and I’ve heard the argument from theists that a large number of the Nobel peace prize (Nobels fredspris) laureates had religious backgrounds, but what they fail to understand is that they kept their faith and religious beliefs separate. The title ‘father of the scientific method‘ is commonly credited to ‘Sir Francis Bacon‘, who in the seventeenth century rose up the ranks for his brilliant, yet sceptical scientific mind. Whilst being a dedicated scientist, he was a devout Anglican, but he believed that the philosophy of science and the natural world must be studied without bias and of an inductive approach, but all answers eventually lead to the existence of God. Having the ability to keep his faith and his scientific approach separate made him very unique at the time.
“A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” – Sir Francis Bacon
‘Sir Issac Newton‘, who was also alive during the seventeenth century was a key component in the scientific revolution, was also born into an Anglican family. He devised the theories of the three laws of motion;
• Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.
• Force equals mass times acceleration
• For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Despite being a devout Anglican like Bacon, some scholars claim he had a keen interest in alchemy, and because of this he was described as a heretic in his later years. He believed in the idea of a monotheistic God as the creator but he rejected many other concepts and doctrines of orthodox Christianity which were expected at the time. Men like Bacon and Newton have my admiration as they were both highly intelligent scientists, who despite having religious views that I don’t share, made massively influential contributions to science, and not only did they keep their religious views and science separate, they never made a claim that scientism is a religion.