Don’t Believe in Science
Language is quite ambiguous at times and we can be misled by the casual way we use it in our everyday lives. Most of the time this doesn’t really matter as ‘sloppiness’ is often a shorthand code and we can often understand the intention behind statements.
One problem that often occurs is when this casualness leads us into logical confusions because we were not specific enough in the way we employed language.
An example that often occurs is around the word ‘belief’. Beliefs are thoughts in our head, psychological states, in which we think something is true. It often indicates uncertainty or lack of evidence. We can say, “I believe (or think) Kofi is coming” when we are not really sure. If we knew for certain we’d simply say, “Kofi is coming”.
Religious beliefs are ideas that lack evidence or are the result of subjective personal feelings and experiences. This is different from actual evidence. Believers often make the accusation that rationalists “believe” in science. This is a misuse of the word.
Science is not a claim about the world it is a method. We don’t “believe” in the method. We employ it when appropriate. In the same way we don’t believe in multiplication. Both science and maths are human constructs that enable us to communicate and operate effectively in the world.
There is another common sport of telling atheists that having non-belief is in itself a form of belief. Again this is an example of linguistic game playing and confusion.
A telling example of the distinction is that believers often tell others that it’s not possible to “know God” or see evidence or miracles until you believe first. It’s an argument that states you need to believe in order to believe. Maths does not require you believe in it’s rules in order to do math. Science is the same.
Both maths and science are based on logical methodologies. Sometimes, people get it muddled and ask “Who made logic?”, which is of course an example of begging the question. By putting the word “who” in the question presumes there was a person who made logic, and the answer they have already decided on is “God”.
Logic is not an absolute, eternally existing “thing” existing beyond space and time and built into the fabric of the universe. It is a human construct, a set of rules that define the process of reasoning. When you follow the rules of logic you are being logical and when you don’t, you are not. We use logic because it’s a useful way to organise ideas in ways in which other people understand. Logic does not exist as a “thing”.
This is the error of Platonism (the philosophy of Plato) and his Theory of Forms which claims the essence of things must previously exist in another dimension, e.g. the redness of red already pre-exists and is expressed through things that are red.
Statements can be true or false but the “raw essence of truth” does not exist. “Truth” is something that results from using the methods of logic. If someone is taller than someone else that is a relative term of comparison. There is no such thing as absolute tallness. There is no ‘essence of tallness’, as there is no ‘essence of redness’ that exists independently. They are properties of objects and things.
Maths is a human construct and the truth of maths exists in the rules that we have constructed. The same can be said for morality. There is no absolute morality as moral codes are ‘laws’ set by human beings because they work for us and have and continue to ensure our survival. There is no law and no law giver. Morality is a social construct that evolves as we do.
Science is simply a system of organising and building knowledge in ways that are testable.
Science works on the principle of fallibility. This means that it is possible to be wrong about things which, hopefully, would instigate a change of mind. Biblical/Qur’anic inerrancy and belief in the infallibility of the Pope are examples of religious beliefs that will not acknowledge the possibility of being wrong. The method of science invites falsification. If scientific propositions are shown to be false they are thrown out. Science discards hypothesis but rarely final explanations (called theories) because they have been tested and verified. However, science never talks in terms of absolute truth and certainty, preferring to leave space for doubt and revision, even though this only happens rarely and in very exceptional circumstances.
Following the methodology of science means you are doing science. It doesn’t require belief in the method. It rejects the claims of absolute truth and absolute authority that religion relies upon because it recognises the principle of fallibility. It has a proven track record of producing results but one thing you must never do is believe in it!
This article was heavily informed by the wonderful video
Top 5 Philosophical Failures of Christian Apologetics by AntiCitizenX
Why Scientists have no Faith in Science