The "Science is faith based" fallacy

Sam Hart

2008-02-18 21:37:06

I just read an excellent post over at Bad Astronomy.

The post is titled Is science faith based?, followed immediately by the answer "No.". Which is wonderful, really it is :-)

Of course, Phil Plait (author of the post) does go a bit further in qualifying this. And it's an excellent and important read for anyone on either side of the issue.

He points out that the site Answers In Genesis states the following incorrect assertion that science is based on a faith in "unprovable" axioms:

Much of the problem stems from the different starting points of our divergence with Darwinists. Everyone, scientist or not, must start their quests for knowledge with some unprovable axiom—some a priori belief on which they sort through experience and deduce other truths. This starting point, whatever it is, can only be accepted by faith; eventually, in each belief system, there must be some unprovable, presupposed foundation for reasoning (since an infinite regression is impossible).

He then summarizes exactly what science is about on a very core and fundamental level, using it as an example of how flawed the central assumption that science is somehow faith based is amongst fundamentalists:

The scientific method makes one assumption, and one assumption only: the Universe obeys a set of rules. That’s it. There is one corollary, and that is that if the Universe follows these rules, then those rules can be deduced by observing the way Universe behaves. This follows naturally; if it obeys the rules, then the rules must be revealed by that behavior.

This, really, is such a beautiful way to explain all of science in a concise and accessible way, and I really do love it.

Anyway... I strongly recommend reading the entire post. In this day and age, when intellectualism is constantly under attack, posts like this are so very important.