A PRIMER ON SCIENCE

Science is two things: one is testing and the other is doubt.

Many political and religious systems fear this.

They warn against the abuse of science and refer to it as scientism.

Let us look at the two forms of scientism.  There is,

1 Scientism as in exaggerating the scope and capabilities of science. Scientism is what trust in science is called when you take science out of its domain and apply it to things it cannot be applied to. Religion gives the example of when you try to detect God and you decide there is no God for he cannot be detected.

2 Scientism as in having too much confidence in the findings of science. This can be about regarding what science currently says as final. It is not for its open to revision in principle. A finding may never need to change or be abandoned but the attitude must be, “If further light overthrows or doubts this then we have to update.” That is all we mean. Usually what happens is the details may need updating when further information comes in. Or it can be when you think that the best verified findings of science are the only truths there are. Philosopher David Hume is accused of this for he supposedly thought there is nothing more to reality than what the laws of nature show. Nobody really thinks that nothing is true unless it is tested. We can only treat something as true if we can test it.

In both cases, the person is expecting too much of science. And both of them are related. One goes with the other.  Make no mistake, religion tries to make sure the talk about scientism is LIMITED to when tensions arise between its doctrines and science.

It has no concern if science as in point 1 above "leaves its domain" and says that religions of specific types lead to a rise in the suicide rate or seem to have a higher percentage of paedophiles than other groupings.  If science examines witchcraft and says its nonsense religion will embrace that research.  So the message is, "We can't detect God.  Or magic power.  As long as science keeps out of the God subject, its okay if it looks at things like magic."

It has no concern if a scientific team has lost its way and stands by a vaccine that does not really work.  I'd call that scientism as in point 2 above.  All they care about is if the science thinks there is no God for there is no sign of divine activity.

Religion calls science a gift from God.  God surely created the power of science to be abused. In that respect he is no better than the Nazis. He is worse for they found out what could be done and were hooked on the success of their evil endeavors and that made them worse. Religion says God tempts nobody to sin gut surely the buzz after discovering how to wield power and do evil is worse than any temptation? It amounts to a reward. God making the potential to be abused is one thing but it is worse when it is so dramatic and devastating as with Nazi science.

There are no sciences. That is a colloquialism. Its popular but inaccurate speech. What you have is different categories to investigate with science. They could include psychology, quantum physics, biology etc. Each of these has subdivisions of their own. In biology you have the topic of prostates in humans. You have the topic of cats. You have the topic of vetinary are for birds. Science is applied to every topic and sub topic you can come up with. Science uses experimentation but it is not experimentation. Science is letting the evidence speak.

If science can’t give us morality or ground morality, it still enables us to check out what moral behaviour is like.  It examines moral behavior but that is not the same as investigating morality. It is not asking if x is wrong but y we think it is wrong and how we respond to it.

Science does not try to find out why the apple falls off the tree. It looks at the laws which are behind the fall and cause it. Wittgenstein wrote, “The great delusion of modernity is that the laws of nature explain the universe for us. The laws of nature describe the universe, they describe the regularities. But they explain nothing.”

Science is what you learn from observing and detecting phenomena in the material universe and is about keeping that knowledge testable so you have to be open to rejecting your explanation for it or confirming it as correct. You are in the hands of the evidence. Science is about checking evidence for and against in order to come to information. When something passes the testing and checking it might be wrong in details but it remains true that you have learned a lot. Science uses methods but is not the scientific method. Science is – “what the checked evidence for x tells me and what the checked evidence against x tells me.” Either way you learn something.