Science Is Not Evil
We human beings have been trying to make sense of the world around us since prehistory. Filled with curiosity, we have explored this mysterious and wonderful universe for ages with the help of a powerful tool called the scientific process. Unfortunately, the price of progress is that obsolete ideas will be replaced with new ideas. Scientific findings can be seen as threatening and oppressive to some because they challenge traditional religious or cultural beliefs and customs which have shaped the lives of countless generations of people. This article confronts 3 common myths about the scientific process and attempts to explain why science is not the enemy of religion.
Myth 1: Science Is A Belief System
It is often believed that science is a type of belief system or religion that competes with traditional religious viewpoints. Probably the most visible example of this is the extremely polarizing creation vs evolution debate. It is a common misconception that “Creation” is the protestant christian religious viewpoint of how life began, and “Evolution” is the secular scientific alternative, when both viewpoints are actually nothing more than two different scientific theories. The theory that life was created by an intelligent being, and the theory that life evolved through natural selection, are both theories that can be tested using the scientific method. The fact that scientific evidence seems to support evolution more compellingly than creation does not make science an anti-religious belief system.
The scientific process exists to increase understanding of the universe through precise measurement and controlled experimentation. Scientists don't care whether life was created or evolved. They just want to know where life came from. If the majority of scientific evidence supported creation, then scientists would eagerly endorse creationism and study the mechanics of intelligent design with great pleasure, it just happens that the opposite appears to be true.
Myth 2: Science Is Always Right
Another common misconception about science is that if a theory has been proven using the scientific method, then it must be absolutely true.
Science is constantly changing. Advances in technology allow for more and more precise observations to be made with fewer and fewer errors. Back when people had no way to measure the curvature of the Earth, people theorized that the Earth was flat. The scientists of the time observed the ground and saw that it was flat, and “proved” that the Earth was indeed flat. However, all it took to overturn this theory was for one person to drive two sticks into the ground some distance apart and measure the angle of their shadows cast by the sun at high noon to realize that the surface of the Earth must be curved.
Science is all about getting the most accurate description of the universe as possible. As human beings become better at making observations, they may find that theories once thought to be correct need to be scrapped, or that a theory is correct in a way that is far more complex than anyone could have ever dreamed. This is what drives scientific progress.
Myth 3: Scientists Are Greedy Liars
A third misconception about science is that all scientists care about is money and prestige, and will conjure up any kind of scientific “finding” that will get him or her the most money and fame.
Scientists are human beings, and they share the same flaws that humans have in general. It is true that many scientists are motivated by money and power more than the scientific process itself, but not all of them are. That is why it is important that scientists publish their findings and subject their experiments to peer review. The purpose of publishing scientific findings in peer review journals is so that other scientists, who are probably not motivated by the exact same kinds of rewards and temptations, can make sure that the findings are suitable for publication and can independently test these scientific findings to see if they can be duplicated consistently.
This is why theories are constantly being retested. Every retest helps eliminate the individual errors that come from human weakness, and get down to the bare science. This is only possible with the free exchange of scientific information, and is the main reason why scientific journals exist. The money and the fame are side-effects of a necessary part of the scientific progress. In fact, the most suspicious scientists are the ones who refuse to publish their findings and their funding sources.
Science is not evil. Science does not attempt to deceive people or destroy their beliefs. Science includes all aspects of life, including religion, and is not separate from it. If you believe in something strongly, the most important thing you can do is test your beliefs scientifically.