Faith in science

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Is faith in science comparable to religious faith? Scientists aren't dogmatic in the sense that they review their theories whenever they are contradicted by new experiments, but still, they have faith that their methods lead them to a better understanding of the world.

Nemo

Posted 2015-11-28T02:27:30.720

Reputation: 101

Question was closed 2015-11-28T03:56:44.627

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Hi, welcome to PSE. Your question is very similar to this one that already has answers http://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/28956/can-belief-in-science-be-considered-a-form-of-theism?rq=1

– Conifold – 2015-11-28T03:05:17.680

There is no faith in science; scientific methods lead us to a better understanding of the world. Of course, science is a human activity, and thus subject to error, deception and so on. But, in the "long run", it works. In any case, it works better than any other way humans have found in order to acquire "understanding of the world". – Mauro ALLEGRANZA – 2015-11-28T12:16:30.610

I would think that the bulk of science has more to do with 'over-coming' our relationship to the natural world than it does with producing nice rational narratives about it. Its more concerned with the manipulation/control/intervention of certain phenomena for numerous, typically practical advantages- a.k.a technology. Faith doesn't come into it. – jimpliciter – 2015-11-29T23:31:24.050

Answers

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If you ask the question at this level of generality, the answer is probably "yes". This is not necessarily very profound; if you get general enough you would expect the two to have something in common: "Are science and religion comparable in that both are human endeavors?"; "Are science and religion comparable in that both are intended to convey information?"

In particular, yes, scientists do engage in their pursuit because they believe that it will lead them to a better understanding of the world. The question then is whether it's apt to call it "faith". Scientists have accomplished breathtaking things, so there's certainly abundant evidence that science leads them to a more powerful position from which to manipulate the world. But there's always doubt that running that RNAseq experiment will really tell you something meaningful about the interaction partners of CREB, and generally as a personal matter it's faith that this whole thing's eventually going to work and turn out that keeps scientists going.

You cannot conclude from this that science and religion have the same sorts of guarantees behind the robustness of their claims, only that people like to do things that they believe in, and scientists are people.

Rex Kerr

Posted 2015-11-28T02:27:30.720

Reputation: 15 388