The Faith in Science Canard
About twice a week on Google+, someone hits the atheism community or the evolution community with what I call the “faith in science” canard.
The canard usually runs something like this:
Faith is important. Even scientists have faith. Because no one can be an expert in every field, they have to have faith that other scientists are telling the truth.
We all have faith in something. Therefore atheists are wrong to reject religion.
That’s an oversimplification, but it doesn’t really matter. The central premise is simply wrong. We do not need faith. We need evidence.
The OP generally states something about how scientists sometimes make reports that are wrong. Cold fusion is an example of this. Many years ago, two scientists announced that they had created cold fusion. Basically, the same kind of nuclear reaction in our sun, but without the excess heat generated. Because they were wrong, our faith should have been broken.
The problem with this is that scientists don’t have faith that someone else is right. They check, especially on something of that magnitude. Who discovered that cold fusion didn’t work? Yes, other scientists who, performing science, attempted to copy the results and failed. That’s not a lack of faith in science, because the process of science works. All it showed that some people announced a result without proper understanding of the data they were reviewing. It happens fairly frequently.
Unlike religion though, science works. Faith is required for religion, because there is zero evidence that it actually works.
Science, on the other hand, works without faith. When you go to your car in the morning, you don’t have faith that vaporous gasoline, when combined with air and a spark will explode. It does. Every. Single. Time. It doesn’t matter what you believe, gravity will pull you down if you step off a bridge. Every. Single. Time.
Do I have to have faith that electrons exist? No, because I manipulate them every day, even though I can’t see them. Solar panels in my house, the alternator in my car all produce electron flow, which, in turn, performs the function I desire. Functions that range from displaying this text on my screen to keeping my house cool.
You show me a religion with the same track record as science… a track record of successful healing of all injuries and diseases, the creation of wealth and happiness… and I will switch to that religion. But I don’t have a religion, because faith is meaningless.
I don’t have faith that my wife loves me, I have significant evidence of the fact that she does. I don’t have faith that I will have a job tomorrow. I have evidence that I am an expert in my field and well known in the industry. I don’t have faith in anything about science. The evidence I’ve discovered on my own, combined with the knowledge that I have gleaned from others mesh into a coherent whole that successfully describes our universe and allows us to manipulates parts of that universe for our advantage.
Honestly, I feel sorry for people who have faith. They have to wake up every morning hoping that nothing radical has changed in their world. I don’t see how they can be stable without knowing that reality exists and doesn’t change, except within well defined parameters that we faithless tend to understand significantly more than they do.