Is Science the New Religion? (David Miller)

  (01 April 09)

Is Science the New Religion?



By David Miller



Science may be ‘just another story’, but it is a story that is being constantly rewritten with the express purpose of providing empirically testable hypotheses. Ideally, scientific methodology is the achievement of replicable results by a process of hypothesis, prediction and experimentation. Dr. Peter Pockley, a science populariser, stated that, “Science is wedded to evidence. The scientific view of our planet and Universe changes because of new evidence”. He quoted Sir John Maddox, former editor of Nature, that it is important to educate people to understand “…the necessarily tentative character of scientific conclusions, or theories, which all began life as hypotheses”.


Hypothesis is speculation. In other words, a hypothesis is a ‘guess’. It is, however, a guess based on new discovery, new analysis, new experimentation, new testing for replicability. We can, if we wish, label these guesses as mere ‘fantasy’ and ‘fiction’. But they nevertheless work! Via the scientific process they really work! One has only to look at the exponential growth of Information Technology to see how each new ‘fantasy’ replaces the previous ‘fiction’ with ever]increasing rapidity. Are my Atheist colleagues utilising science as a religion? I would answer with a qualified ‘Yes’. It seems to me that those of my colleagues who are in dire need of ‘certainty’ make science the rock on which they stand.


This is most evident when I suggest to them that it is possible that all the theories that we now hold may someday be shown to be wrong and fall or, at least, be in need of serious modification. This suggestion is usually met with instantaneous rejection. When I remind them that one of the tenets of scientific methodology is the transitoriness of theories, they reply that it is highly unlikely to apply to all theories, and will especially not apply to those theories that have stood the test of time.


Notice their desire for the status quo to continue! Notice how their need for certainty negates being open to possibility!


But it is not only my Atheist colleagues who are utilising science as a religion. It is all of us! For example, when we ask ourselves, “Is the chair real?”, what is it that we all parrot off? “A chair is ‘really’ a collection of atoms, electrons and molecules.” Yes, that is what we say. We negate our experience of the chair in the name of one of our new ‘guesses’, Molecular Theory. Instead of accepting that our seeing, feeling and experiencing of the chair is the reality we, instead, replace that reality with a Theory. That is, with a fiction, a fantasy, a guess, a speculation, a hypothesis. In other words, the fiction is real, not the chair!


We think that we have gone from religion over to science. But all that we have done is move from one religion to the next. Instead of it being God (fantasy) that is the reality, it is now Theory (fantasy) that is the reality.


Beware! We are allowing one fiction to be replaced with another.




If the scientific community in general would think like your atheist scientific colleagues, that everything has been proven and that it should not be research any further, indeed we would be in trouble. But I have not seen this process of though at least here in Europe. Scientists are ready to challenge even the most fundamental theories such as the theory of gravity and the reasons why objects are attracted to each other. So I would not be worried about science turning into another religion.

Posted by Mikael

In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time someting like that happened in politics or religion. -Carl Sagan

Posted by Javier

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