Posted by: LucidMystery | January 14, 2009

Is Science A Faith?

I don’t waste time playing devil’s advocate, do I? The title of this post is the title of a presentation I have to give later in the semester in my bioethics class. Actually, I’m quite looking forward to it! I’m still eons aways from being prepared since I still have to actually do some research on this, but here are some preliminary ideas I already had in my head.

So, is science a faith?

Yes–All faiths that I’m aware of have some sort of creation story or explanation for the origins of the universe. I look to God as the Creator, a Muslim looks to Allah, Hindus look to…well, a lot of gods, to put it simply. In science, a researcher seeks to understand “the creation,” and though there is no set creator, another goal is to understand the creation process. So essentially, science uses its own methods to tell the story of our creation. They just don’t want to use a deity.

No–The absence of a deity is what differentiates science from a faith. Science doesn’t call for a higher powered being to order the universe. Instead, the universe is governed by natural laws that weren’t set in place, they simply are.

Yes— Science, like a faith, requires a set way of thinking. Straying from that line of thinking often causes major disturbances and even excommunication. Some of whom we consider the greatest scientists were looked down on as quacks in their day. Two off the top of my head are Anton van Leeuwenhoek (first to see cells under a microscope) and Ignaz Semmelweis (first to suggest handwashing). Semmelweis was committed to a mental institution when became adamant about doctors washing their hands between patients and Leeuwenhoek, even after being hailed as the inventor of the microscope was a heretic for his discovery of previously unknown microorganisms.

No–The Bible itself describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11)Science is the very opposite of this; it is based on fact and observation, not abstract intangibles.

Yes–But science does require at least an ounce of faith, with that Biblical definition. Harald zur Hausen, one of the 2008 Nobel Prize winners in medicine, worked for well over a decade trying to find the connection between HPV and cervical cancer. Even without seeing it directly, he knew there was a connection; but he had to be sure of what he was hoping for and he was most definitely certain of what he couldn’t see. And thank heavens he was right!

On that same front though, even the elaborate hypotheses behind the origins of life require a speck of faith–the faith that some molecule had to have become self-replicating and somehow begin carrying information to become a living organism.

No–A faith includes a mandated set of rules and traditions; it may involve proselytising and campaigning…I’m sorry, I’m holding in some major sarcasm for this one.

Yes–Everyone’s faith affects their outlook on life, otherwise known as their worldview. Even if not everyone follows a religion, everyone has a worldview. Atheism is a worldview, agnosticism is a worldview, and any faith you can think of are all worldview because they define they way you think about the world around you and the possibility of the next world. Hardcore science claims to not need a God and therefore affects scientists’ outlook on life.

Ok, so I have some serious work to do. Part of the assignment is for people to not know which side I’m on, even as I conclude. I have to represent both sides equally. It will be a challenge! But I’m up for it 😉

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