This is Part Two of my series on Religion and Faith in Science. In Part One, I pointed out the hostility secular science has towards creation science, and I made the case for secular science being a religion in its own right. And in this post I’ll expand on that concept.
When I refer to ‘secular science’, I’m referring to any scientist who adheres strictly to naturalistic explanations in order to arrive at a scientific conclusion, while rejecting all religious claims- particularly (but not exclusively) when it comes to origins. Another term I may use is ‘mainstream science’, in which all the most popular explanations are accepted (ie. evolution, Big Bang) and consensus rules. Others have referred to this kind of science as a ‘modern academic paradigm’ (1). Regardless of how we describe it, this kind of science amounts to religious belief because nothing in science demands a strict adherence to naturalism for all causes. A naturalistic explanation, for instance, may be implausible for the origin of life, while creation science offers a better, more logical explanation.
Some may argue that there is only one kind of science, and there’s no such thing as secular or mainstream science. That may seem true when it comes to engineering a rocket, identifying a type of mineral, working out a mathematical equation, calculating the trajectory of a comet, mixing chemicals in a lab, splicing genes, or observing a bat in the wild. With these, there is virtually no controversy because all are based upon observable evidence and the scientific method, so one’s worldview is seldom visible. Therefore, all scientists can work together in harmony in these areas of operational (or observational) science.
On the other hand, when it comes to the unobservable past, one’s worldview does, indeed, come into play, and that’s where science can turn into a religion- because it’s based on faith rather than verifiable facts. The origin of the universe, earth, and life, are all based on faith because no one was there to observe those origins, so it’s impossible, based upon evidence alone, to discover the truth with absolute certainty.
All this is what turns science into a religion, with all sides competing for converts and believers. Shockingly, no side relies solely on evidence and facts to draw their conclusions. And that’s because the evidence doesn’t speak for itself… rocks just don’t come out of the ground with an authenticated timestamp. Instead, each side relies on faith. Creationists base their faith on the Bible, while atheists, evolutionists and secularists base their faith on holy textbooks- even the sacred Origin of Species!
Some scientists openly admit these shortcomings of science. However, there are still many who don’t (or won’t). Maybe it’s because science enjoys an elevated status, or they fear the stigma of being labeled ‘anti-science’; perhaps they have a hidden agenda, or they really don’t know any better. Others want you to believe they’re objective, relying on reason. And that’s the rub. There’s the perception of what science is, and then there’s reality. And the two, at times, are at odds.
If all science were purely objective, with no bias or hidden agendas, then we’d all get along. There’d be no need to take issue with those who conclude that God created the heavens and earth in six ordinary days because the playing field would be even. Sure, that would open the door to many different scientific models, but if they were consistent in their worldview, then we can have candid discussions. Evolution, then, wouldn’t get preferential treatment in schools and colleges, and that would be ideal.
But that’s not what we see. Instead, there’s open hostility by many on the side of mainstream science because they hate losing converts, hence their constant marketing strategies to promote evolutionary beliefs. Programs starring Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy are prime examples, and it becomes indoctrination rather than education.
So, even though secular scientists will strategically label their opponents as religious, they themselves are religious. In fact, humans are innately religious beings. We contemplate the future, wonder about the distant past, marvel at our existence, and think about death and eternity. Scientists are no different than anyone else; and whatever they believe about these views will be incorporated into their science. Therefore, it’s impossible to keep religion and faith out of science. All scientists- including atheists- bring their religious views with them, mixing faith and science, and encourage others to do the same. Some do so on purpose, while others out of ignorance.
Personally, I think all this is self-evident, and it’s easy to spot the religiousness many scientists resort to, even while denying it. So then, what would it look like to be non-religious? Someone without any acceptance, commitments or beliefs would be non-religious, but scientists hold all sorts of beliefs and acceptances about the universe, how it works, how it came to be, and how we came into existence. And many of these beliefs are unverifiable, so they’re based on faith alone.
Faith = Religion
Consider this… animals are non-religious. Apes, chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet, but none exhibit religious behavior. Sure, they may illustrate complex social behavior- like grief, but none attend church, worship, express a belief system, or show any devotion or observation to faith.
But scientists do. Even atheists (yes, there are atheist churches). Scientists have beliefs about the world and universe that they are devoted to- such as naturalism, and they have faith that their worldview explains our origin, even though there is no observable, verifiable evidence. So, while they may profess they’re only interested in a reasonable and rational examination of the evidence, they fail to recognize the belief system driving their conclusions, as if that shields them from hypocrisy.
The mistake most people make is thinking that religious views must be institutionalized in a physical church or denomination. Thus, if they don’t attend a physical church or believe in God, then they can’t be accused of being religious. Of course that’s nonsense. Being an atheist or agnostic is just as religious as being a theist.
One reason I’m posting these articles is to help even the playing field and shed light on the false claim that ‘real scientists’ somehow keep religion out of science. They can’t. Nonetheless, I don’t take issue with bias when one is honest about it. Everyone has bias. But not everyone recognizes it. What I take issue with is the false perception of science.
(1) Modern academic paradigm- credit to the author of Apolojedi