[thechat] Mythology was comics

DC DC_the_gasman at Bigfoot.com
Thu May 24 05:10:32 CDT 2001

Mind if I butt in to this interesting thread?

At 2:09 am -0400 24/5/01, matthew garrett wrote:
>  > From: "isaac" <isaac at members.evolt.org>
>>  i apologise - we were discussing religion and i assumed that anyone reading
>>  my email would naturally realise that i meant faith in religion, etc.
>I know that we are discussing religion, I just wanted to make the point that
>science is a religion too. In that it promotes and perpetuates a system of
>beliefs about the universe we live in. It gives non-believers something to
>believe in. It gives us faith.

Before I say anything else I should say that I *do* have my own 
religious beliefs,  -  I'm not a materialist, OK?

Science is *not* a religion, and the occasional statement that it is 
one is pernicious. (Which is not to say that some people might have a 
religious attitude towards it, but that is beside the point - the 
same can be said WRT Star Trek, pop & film stars, and some political 

Science is a system of interrogating the universe, with one basic 
assumption: the universe behaves consistently (a necessary assumption 
if science is to work at all, and so far it seems to hold). There is 
no system of beliefs, and no absolute truth. The current 
understanding of reality provided by science is definitely wrong in 
some areas - it will be interesting to see which ones - and some 
scientific notions will get overturned, or found to be a subset of 
something larger (as happened to Newtonian physics when Einstein came 
along). There is *no* foundational set of beliefs one must subscribe 
to (unlike almost every religious path), no argument from authority, 
no Bible or Qur'an.
All there is is a set of techniques for avoiding error - the scientific method.

It is highly unlikely that, say, the Second Law of Thermodynamics or 
the Theory of Evolution will be overturned because so much study by 
so many scientists working over so much time has confirmed their 
validity - but it is not impossible, and if some shattering new 
evidence appeared which *did* suggest that one or both of these was 
completely erroneous, then the error *would* be corrected no matter 
that these are foundational to our whole understanding of the 
material universe. I grant you a lot of scientists would be upset and 
reluctant - they are, after all, only human - but that wouldn't stop 
the shift in scientific theory.

What science perpetuates is *understanding*, not belief. Maybe *some* 
"non-believers" have a semi-religious view of science, but that 
doesn't sound like many scientists I know. Or many non-believers, for 
that matter. (I'm trying hard to think of an exception, but I can't.) 
Most "non-believers" I know cope very well without a religious faith, 
and quite a lot of them have very little trust in science. I suppose 
they have their own views about the way the world works, but I can't 
see how a sapient lifeform could do otherwise. If they have faith in 
anything, it seems to me it is often in themselves, or in a political 
system such as capitalism or communism or socialism.

I went on a bit longer than I intended. Sorry :)


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