The religious-right is calling evolution "faith-based" in order to argue for creationism in schools
Science is not a religion. When I hear creationists say why their beliefs should be taught alongside science in classrooms across America, one tactic they use in defense is that science is a biased system of unsubstantiated beliefs like religion. Science, more specifically the theory of evolution, is often called a religion, and a “dogmatic belief.”
There are many reasons why science and its methods of obtaining information about our world are not the same as a religion.
The United States is a very unique example in the Western world. When it comes to teaching science in science classrooms, its main opponents are the religious-right. Defense of Young Earth Creationism is done in many ways, and among the most ridiculous is to compare science with religion.
They often say that science is “faith-based” like religion, therefore one cannot be a more valid way of explaining the world than the other. Believing that science is faith based is a basic misunderstanding, and shows a lack of understanding in the nature of science itself.
The basic thesis to the creationist idea is that if science (evolution) is as dogmatic and faith based as religion, then there is no reason not to teach both religious doctrine and scientific theorems as equally plausible.
It seems strange for me to even need to write an article about this, but many Americans are mired in this insanity. If people have to take to time to explain what the difference is between science and mythology, it’s a bad symptom for a society.
Let me be clear, I have no background in natural sciences. Yet, I realize that without science the very nature of how we understand our world, universe, and our place in it all, would be quite different. Our understanding of all things stems from scientific discovery. Science changes when new information arises.
Science is a very thorough understanding of certain categories of existence (as we know it), through facts discerned by testable claims. Religion is essentially stories fabricated and cobbled together to give explanation without need of a claim to be testable. One requires a process for which to “prove” something, while the other claims proof without any real way of showing it.
Science expands, changes. From Copernicus to Galileo, Newton to Einstein. Theories of science have changed many times, and scientists have to adjust to these realities when necessary.
Is Science dogmatic? Well, that’s a tricky question. I would reframe the question as, “Are scientists dogmatic?” It depends. Any credible scientist has to be very careful on what they put forth, in any field. There is a rigorous peer-reviewed process that many scientific fields have to undergo in order to be considered valid in the field.
It is true that certain individual scientists can be very dogmatic in their field of study, and it would not be fair to say that no scientist can be arrogant or cocky when it comes to their job. Yet, more often or not, scientists tread their words carefully, and make sure their work withstands scrutiny before speaking too surely of themselves.
Science depends on any given claim to be testable. If you can test it, you can then break down certain models to reach a conclusion. Process of elimination, basically. The reason why I put “prove” in quotations when discussing science, is because scientific fields do not necessarily want to prove anything (directly). Usually the means of reaching conclusions comes by disproving certain models, under various methods, and performing similar tests to see if these tests reach similar results.
What is religion? At its core, mythology. Religion cannot be compared to science, as both operate on different playing fields. Religions are based in stories told for untold generations, often used to both explain the natural world, and inspire a code, or doctrine of how to live. It’s principles are based on faith, belief.
Religion needs no facts to justify its stories, because the stories are the granted origin of all facts. There is no need to research, test, or verify anything with religion. Everything is pre-set in this situation, and unlike science, religion takes pride in dogmatism.
Codes of religion were perhaps necessary ages ago, for order and explanation. But science has filled these gaps, and will continue to fill the gaps we don’t know.
There is nothing wrong with studying religion, as religion. But saying that religion is equivalent to science is a bridge too far. Way too far. It is perfectly fine to have a faith, but realize that having this faith does not mean you have evidence for this faith. At no point in our history has a scientific problem been solved by a religious answer. I can’t say the same for the reverse.