I often hear that science is just my religion or that science is a religion that requires just as much faith as any other religion. Sigh.

There is a VAST difference between science and religion. This cartoon from www.wellingtongrey.net is a humorous representation. I urge you to look at it before proceeding.

Science CHANGES! Believe it or not, this is the strong point of science. A hypothesis is made and then TESTED. As methodology and technology and understanding advances a hypothesis is discarded, modified or confirmed. Science is reality based. It is subjected to testing. It is subjected to Peer review. It is subjected to change. Sure, some scientists, being human, will hold on to their pet theories or fight against the new BUT the EVIDENCE WILL win. That is how science works.

– Hypothesis
– Experimentation, ideally with a design formulated to falsify the hypothesis
– Interpretation of results
– Publication in PEER reviewed journals
– Confirmation (or not) of the hypothesis and experimental details by other scientists
– repeat

When a large body of information over a long period of time continually confirms a set of hypotheses they are grouped and elevated to a Theory. A theory in science is NOT what most people consider a theory (common use of the word). A theory in science explains a large number of facts and is essentially a fact:

Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially

Details of a theory can be modified as more evidence is gained without changing the truth of the Theory. For example, Newtonian mechanics still works although it has been modified for very fast and very small particles. The Theory of Evolution is a fact. It explains a large body of evidence and has held up to repeated attempts at falsification. Once again, science deals with facts and reality. It deals with what can be proved and/or falsified. It deals with reality.

Religion is the direct opposite. It deals with Faith. Its major doctrines can NOT be proved. They can NOT be scientifically analyzed and they can NOT be subjected to falsification. It is, essentially, a body of information that is all made up. Not that there isn’t support. Every religion has its sacred texts and religious leaders who “know” the truth but it is not (generally) subjected to experimentation and falsification. There is no person alive that can prove the existence of God or that God exists in 3 persons or that Christ’s death saves or that there is a heaven or that there is a hell or that an invisible Zeus lives on Mt Olympus, etc. There may be things in a religion that can be checked (e.g. Did Christ exist? Did Paul exist?) but the substance of theology cannot be checked. Oh, it can be argued: The text really says this. You don’t really understand this verse. My vision said this. However, a religious system can NOT be proved. You may believe there is enough evidence to make a leap of faith but if there was PROOF there would be no need for faith. Theology is just “grown-ups” arguing for and against made up doctrines.

I also maintain that religion can’t change but it can evolve. This is why there are 38,000+ Christian denominations. In order for religion to “progress” or change, it has to split and a new group has to be formed OR if a church changes too much others split from it to keep the “old” ways. Either way the old is preserved. Eventually a religious group will either survive or die. Religion deals with absolute truth (or they like to think so) so change isn’t possible without damaging that claim. Now it may look like change because those less fit will die and those that are more fit will survive, so over time the religion landscape may change. Often times all that is really accomplished is that another denomination is added to the ever growing list. Anyone can get involved in this fray because no proof is needed. All that is needed is a claim and followers willing to believe that claim based on faith and/or trust. Evidence need not apply.

If someone wants to believe in a mythical, invisible, sky god that loves them and will send believers to heaven and sinners to hell – have at it. I draw the line when that fantasy starts trying to influence education, science and politics. But then, it has too doesn’t it? Religion believes it has the truth of “god” and that truth MUST be imposed on the world. This is what makes religion dangerous.

Skeptics are often asked: What’s the Harm? What harm does it do to believe in weird things especially when it comes to religion. The answer is that plenty of harm can come from the innocent belief of lies. There is now a web site where you can track the harm done. The web site is called What’s The Harm and lists the harm cause by “innocent” belief in topics as broad as Medicine, Religion, Supernatural and Pseudo-Science.

As of this writing the harm has amounted to 3,247 people killed, 224,674 injured and over $277,416,000 in economic damages!

I highly recommend checking out the site.

I really like the naturalist David Attenborough. Having purchased two amazing DVD collections called “The Blue Planet” and “Planet Earth” which Attenborough narrates, I developed a curiosity about this interesting character and decided to Google him. I wasn’t surprised to find that he, a devoted student of our earth, is not a believer. I find it hard to believe that anyone so close to nature could be.

I liked his response to an interview he had in 2005 with Simon Mayo of BBC Radio. Stating he considers himself agnostic, he had the following to say about faith in a creator:

“My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy'”.

Considering the horrors we see in the world everyday, I couldn’t have put it any better. Thank you, David Attenborough.

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong.
If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really wrong.
If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’re not doing it at all.

Religious Faith

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it right.
If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really, really right.
If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’ve arrived – welcome to faith.

Of course Christians don’t believe they are perfect and most accept that they will make mistakes, after all they are human. However, when it comes to their faith, they will not admit to being mistaken or deluded. Faith, by definition, is not something that can be subjected to proof and the claims of evidence. It cannot be falsified. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.