As evidenced by this blog, I have of late, taken quite a liking to scientific skepticism. I’ll even say I’ve immersed myself in it, doing little else during the week other than work, this blog, and reading about new scientific advances. Of the most immediately engaging aspects of science, and likely the main reasons I’ve become such a large proponent of it, I find it’s lack of required faith and its opposition to unwavering ideologies to be two very import ones.
Science doesn’t require faith because science has been proven empirically as a valid method for modeling reality. It has passed the scientific tests. The same thing cannot be said about faith because faith has time and again misled people into believing all sorts of things that reality hasn’t supported. Science is designed to refine or even disprove the ‘truth’ it has created while faith is designed to be always internally self supporting and having no need for the observations of reality. The very use of science is evidence based, and thus requires no faith. With science we must accept that we don’t have all the answers, but we would be justified in being both more certain about the answers we do have and certain that with time we can answer all questions about the natural world.
Before I got into skepticism I hadn’t separated science as a method from the findings of science. I knew roughly what the scientific method was, i.e. what a hypothesis is and how to think about testing one, but I wouldn’t really think about science except in the context of its findings like the theory of relativity or evolution, etc. I’ve heard and read some anti-science proponents refer to science as just another ideology, usually in an effort to discredit it as a fallacious support of some unscientific perspective. The thing is, science isn’t just another ideology, because science isn’t an ideology at all.
Science is not a doctrine of beliefs. The current state of our scientific understanding is not science. Science is the method by which we’ve come to this current state. The state is always changing and growing. Science has no ideals, it has no goal or system of beliefs to enact. The people who use science might follow certain ideologies, for instance, I want to live an evidence based life, i.e. I want to be as best informed as I can for every important decision I make, I want to help people in need and do little that causes unnecessary harm. Science is not these things, science is what I employ to help me enact my ideology. Science is a method, a tool, for modeling reality, it is not an ideology.