Objective vs. Subjective
There seems to be an increase in the anti-science pro-faith speakers on the internet. Maybe it’s just the Thanksgiving holiday so they have more time on their hands. It seems to have started at Why Evolution is True, with Deepak Chopra trying to goad Jerry Coyne into a twitter duel after some uncomplimentary things were written by Jerry in The New Republic. There was also a recent twitter ‘discussion’ which I was tangentially involved in.
Basically, it comes back to the “even scientists have faith” argument. ”Science is really faith.” ”Scientism is belief in science.” and all those other related statements that totally miss the entire point of science.
Science is objective. It (and reality) is true for every person, every where, no matter their beliefs, skin color, gender, wealth, or political affiliation. No one who fails to study about gravity will be immune to it. Even the great woomiesters acknowledge it.
How do people learn about gravity? From the time they are born. Gravity is a huge influence on them. Babies learn about gravity in the same way that scientists learn about things. Experimentation and observation. When a baby falls enough times, they get the picture that they need to be careful, because gravity can cause pain.
I’m using gravity here, but this applies to every single thing that we know exists in our world. It isn’t faith to think that science can solve almost any problem and find out the answer to almost any question. It’s justified because of the success that science has had over the last few hundred years.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Almost everything that exists in our modern world is a direct result of science. Not religion.
Religion is about faith. It is, by definition, belief without evidence. There is no evidence that religion can solve the world’s problems. Indeed, the evidence is that religion causes many more problems than it solves, especially if there is more than one religion.
But even the religious know that science works, even if they refuse to admit it to themselves. Almost everyone, religious or not, takes all their antibiotics. That’s because the doctor told them to and the doctor (should) knows that evolution works.
The religious don’t ever pray for an amputee to be healed, because they know it won’t work. Somewhere, deep inside, they know that their god will never, ever grow a new limb for someone. Science will, but that doesn’t count.*
In my old church, they would pray for healing, until the doctor said that there wasn’t any hope. Then the prayer would change to “end the suffering”. While a noble goal, they totally understand that their god will not heal that person, even if they refuse to admit it.
Religion is subjective. Everyone has a different religion… even within the same church. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen members of the congregation shaking their heads to something the preacher has said. They think he’s wrong, because their personal belief system disagrees with him.
In the twitter conversation, the discussion popped up about altruism. How religions are altruistic (except they aren’t) and there’s no scientific reason for it (except there is). This goes back to my annoyances about the anti-science crowd.
Religion is highly subjective, it simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because it is subjective. People choose their religion based on the beliefs that they have that are supported by that religion. Or (and more likely) people have the beliefs that they do because they grew up in a household with those beliefs that are supported by their religion.
Science is highly objective, it simply does work. The same experiment works for anyone who does the same thing. Every time. Christians don’t get better gas mileage and Muslims don’t have better digestive systems. If you turn on a device made by science, then it works. The same GPS can be used by atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindu, pagans, Scientologists and every other religion in existence.
It really bugs me.
* Actually, that’s the same annoyance I have when people thank god for healing someone, but ignore the three doctors, 20 nurses, and other assorted medical professionals who worked their asses off to learn to help people.