Science as a Religion

They are similar in that both are based on faith. One requires more faith than the other but I’m stating the obvious. Everything is based on faith. For example, I believe that China exists because I read about it in a book. I have faith that the sources I read are trustworthy. So on, so forth, all day long.

Both science and religion or systems of belief that attempt to explain humanity and its place in the world.

I finally got around to looking ‘Religion’ up in a dictionary.

Couldn’t this be translated as (I’m just picking out physics here, I’ll talk about stamp collecting later):

sci·ence as a re·li·gion
Belief in and reverence for the laws of the universe regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

Or something similar to that… does anyone else wanna have a go at this?

So it looks like Science (Well Physics) is in search of what defines Religion (creator and governor of the universe)…

Science aims to explain how the universe works, so does Religion. Of course in Religion you also have people evaluating peoples religion and thats why you have conversions and most of the time lots of killing and stuff… But you have that sort of thing in Science, there are many competting theories to explain how the universe works and some people choose/work on some and others follow other theories… So we can see M-Theory as one religion and QED as another religion within science.

Science trys to explain HOW the world works, whereas Religion explains not only HOW but WHY… But how do you explain the WHY without the HOW? You can’t… and because through science we have a fair idea (but we still don’t know) HOW the world works we can’t expect science to tell us WHY… At least not yet.

After humans work out how the universe works then science will have to answer WHY. And once it does this it will qualify as a religion. There has to be an ultimate truth, so this will eventually happen (if we don’t wipe ourselves out before then).

So in summary, Science is a Religion, not a very advanced one.

This is true, but a belief in science means the belief in the scientific method. Hidden there is our faith that the universe can be understood and explained. Scientists believe that the universe behaves in an ordered and predictable way, and that by the process of constructing hypotheses and testing them against observations, we will be able to understand the universe. Science continually tests the current set of theories, even the “accepted” ones, but it never questions the Scientific Method.

Science and religion both attempt to find meaning to our lives, to our world. Personally science is the only religion I have.

Still, I wonder if it’s not quite enough to be a replacement for traditional religions. Science cannot explain what the purpose of our lives are, without bringing in a few other philosophies to complement it.

I wouldn’t call them synonymous but I think there is more overlap than most of the posters have acknowledged. While they look very different they occupy the same position in life.

Both are belief systems that determine how we view almost everything in the world. At one time man looked almost exclusively to the supernatural for answers where we now look for causal relationships. I think it is unquestionable that the rise of science has diminished the importance of religion in providing answers to life’s questions. Religions are in a tough bind here, they can voluntarilly relinquish the power to provide answers by emracing the idea that they are not really contradicted or go head to head in a losing battle like creationists. I would call secular humanism an outgrowth of scientific thought applied to morality and it challenges one of the last roles left for religion.

Ultimately one can have faith that science provides the ultimate answers though acknowledging that they may never be discoverable which doesn’t sound a hell of a lot different from religion.

I think a key difference, beyond the fact that Religion is usually concerned as much with moral standards as it is with explaining the world, is that Religion when it is used to explain the workings of world will always finally resort to stating “and that’s were God comes into play”. Early people would find gods at work in virtually everything that they could not explain: weather, illnesses, etc. With growing appreciation of the science behind that, it became clear that the Sun was not God, for example.
Yet whereever science could not explain something, people would come up and say “that’s were god comes into play”. Take the current model of the creation of the universe, and explain to me what was before the Big Bang. A atheist scientist may say “I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll find out.” A Christian may say "God created that Universe in a Big Bang – he was before the Big Bang.

In the end, I would say, there’s the difference between Religion and Science – Religion ALWAYS has a final answer, whilst Science doesn’t.

First off, I disagree with this statement:

Actually, science is a rather dogmatic institution, despite its reputation. Of course, I don’t mean by that science is as dogmatic as, let us say, the medieval Catholic Church, or that anyone risks being burned at the stake because they don’t believe in the Big Bang; but it is very slow to revise itself as new info becomes available. At the very least, that’s the opinion of a number of sociologists and historians of science, like Kuhn, Mendelsohn, Feyerbend, and Polanyi.

The old adage, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” expresses the basic dogmatism of modern science. This essential dogmatism, or at the very least conservatism, of the natural sciences is a good thing in a lot of ways. It insulates scientific theorization from the whims of fashion, holds new theories to a rigorous standard of testing, and so forth. Regarding popular attitudes, most reasonable people believe that “the scientific method,” whatever that might be, is the method of choice for generating knowledge statements about the world around us. They believe it in a dogmatic, or at the very least nearly dogmatic, sense.

Urban Ranger states:

Which is Popper, of course. I think that line of reasoning (i.e., the attempt to find a demarcation criteria between scientific statements and all other statements, on the basis of their “falsifiablity”) has been refuted. Regarding that, I wonder if anyone out there knows anything about the debate concerning the falsifiablity of evolutionary theory. Last I heard, it had been determined that the theory of evolution was, strictly speaking, unfalsifiable. This was one of the arguments that put the nail in Popper’s coffin, although there are a few others as well.

I don’t think anyone really knows what makes scientific theories scientific, exactly, but I understand this problem to be more of a philosophical conundrum than a practical one.

Illuvatar, I’d be careful about reducing a phenomena as complex as religion to a dictionary definition. Anyone who’s taken a freshman class in Religious Studies knows that the meaning of the word “religion” is notoriously difficult to pin down.

I think there’s a lot to be said for the similarities between Science and Religion, although I would prefer to use the term “mythology.” In a lot of ways, science is the mythology of the modern age. Understood functionally, they both provide answers to question like, “Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?” and even, “Where the hell are we, anyway?” Science has its own cosmological creation myth (the Big Bang Theory, of course), its myth concerning the way humans came into being (evolution), and answers to where we are in the Universe and so forth. It provides these answers within a framework that meets the critieria for knowledge extant in the modern world – that is to say, it makes “sense” from the perspective of a modern person.

It’s interesting that there’s such a gap between science and religion now- they’re frequently treated as mutually exclusive. As far as I know, most of the Scientific Revolution guys (Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Galileo- who was not burned at the stake. He was retired to a country estate) were religious, and didn’t see it as contradictory. Can’t remember who said it, but I agree: science requires us to believe that the universe 1. follows logical patterns and has immutable laws, and 2. that we are capable of understanding those patterns and laws. Both statements work on faith. Also as far as I know, science is gradually stratifying theories (involving non-reproducible things like the Big Bang and macro-evolution) into dogma. They’re still officially theories, but they’re treated more and more as certainties…

Gotta disagree here. “Laws of the universe” as “creator…of the universe?” The “laws” (more accurately described as observed properties) of the universe did not create the universe. That’s nonsensical. It’s like saying “likes to eat dog food” created my dog.

Again, no. I believe the general consensus among physicists is that the beginning of the universe can be mathematically described as a singularity. The concepts of “creator” and “governor” are irrelevant to physics, barring, of course any revolutionary new evidence that comes to light.

I would say that’s true. However, science attempts to do it though observation and controlled experimentation, whereas religion just sort of makes stuff up and demands that you believe it.

Perhaps science IS telling you the WHY, but you aren’t willing to accept it. Could it be that religion is man’s stubborn refusal to accept that the reason we are here is simply that billions of subatomic particles happened to bounce around and stick together in the form of YOU.

Yes, I believe there is an ultimate truth, but it may not be the truth that you are wishing for. You may also have to accept that we probably never will have all the answers.


I wasn’t willing to bring this up in this thread otherwise there would be a huge RELIGION Vs. SCIENCE or MEANING Vs. NO MEANING TO LIFE argument. And I didn’t want that so I dulled it down to ‘we don’t know’ which can avoid the argument.

I know it sounded a bit whish-washy that’s why I said:

What I was meaning to say was ‘The way the universe works is responsible for it’s creation’. I just can’t paraphrase it well enough.

No, there is a new theory that is being worked on at the moment that the BB was the result of a wave-function. So we don’t have to rely on the theory that it just happened and the laws we’re created later. It could be that the laws existed anyway.

I mean ultimate truth as in the FINAL theory on how the universe works. The universe works a certain way, so their must be a theory to describe it, that is what science relies on.

Lets see you actually bring something to the table rather than do a half-ass job of ripping someone elses apart.

Science cannot falsify change; to which its axioms are currently (internally aknowledged as) dependant.
The entire theoretical notion of the absolute collapsing into itself; thus creating stasis, is as irksome to scientific axioms as it is to deistic/theistic axioms.

To generally address the thread:

Take a look at solipsism reduced to an instantaneous creation date as a ‘how’.
Take a look at the presence of something being impossible without a precedant in a ‘how’ sense. (i.e. How can the idea of God exist without a precedence of form? Since something cannot come from nothing; God must really exist, and so must the time-machine that just appeared in my oven. If something can come from nothing (zero precedence of structure identification); than instantaneously generated solipsism defines reality; therefor science is wholly inadequate to measure the very method it assumes.)

It’s a catch-22 that regresses infinitely; clearly exhibiting that science does not currently possess a method capable of determining its own falsifiability.

Do we first study (in order) to exploit systems for our own advantage or do we first exploit systems for our own advantage (in order) to study? Can the respective achievements; ‘in order’, of the absolute expression above, provide meaning to the individual, given the dull loop of infinite regress process or the stasis of idealized form fullfillment?

This question more than any, seems to bear the most relevance to capturing the science/religion loop at the synthesis level. Maybe speculations along those lines will draw more ideas for those interested in the topics’ resolution.

Deisms and theisms do not possess a philosophic backround of proof-checking and consistency - they are ‘how’ oriented, much like science is; except the religious axiom adds to it’s permanence; self-identity.
Don’t confuse philosophy (why?) with religion (how?).
Religion makes infinity and/or eternity of the self an axiom, by discarding the inquisition: “What’s the point of any state of being, when one can imagine, rationalize and even wish for non-being; a state requiring no energy consumption to thrive and survive? How can your prophets story or your gods morality match the power of this truth?”

By having this axiom; religion researches and dictates navigation through this axiom’s expression on reality. ‘Patents’ or ‘territorial claims’ discovered through sifting reality with this axiom creates speciation. Extending the axiom of “infinity and/or eternity of self” with additional modifiers, religions gain additional variations of complexity on these specious divisions; creating ‘races’. Basically; once speciated enough to have a sustainable market established; religion only explains the how: how to get to heaven, how to become enlightened; without discarding the innitial axiom of fact and purpose. Religion supposes lack of free-will over its axiom; whether you follow it or not. Buddhism may tell you that you don’t have to ‘join’, but it doesn’t question that its scalable system permeates all reality. The same registers as true for science; except that ‘reproducable change’ is the axiom being utilized with no additional modifiers. Religion focuses on control of the ‘after-realm’ and one’s path to the after-realm. It’s ‘evidence’ will be prophets of immense power determination who occupy our plane from transcendence in the after-realm; symbolizing/ advertising the fortunes to behold for choosing their system, over another one. This system further reduces to the individual role-player; in that they attempt their own occupation that will draw or entice the powers over reality; the attention of power itself, to them (applicable to archetypes of sourcery and magic; particularly conjuration and alteration). Methods of intellectualism and invention serve a similar purpose in scientific spheres as well, in that the ‘god’ of reality verification and recognition observes one as standing out from the rest (mostly to themselves, as in religion) - through revelation of insight into reproducable change.

Religion tells people that eating food, for example, is a necessity towards achieving a fruitful afterlife (by somehow not addressing the rather obvious idea that eating food conflicts with absolute faith in the after-life, and the ‘omni-benevolence’ of its internal truth).

Science (methodology and axiom) likewise refrains from comment on this topic.

Philosophy addresses this topic and distinguishes itself by discarding change as an axiom and entering negation as an axiom. Why do we exist? Why should we bother to exist? Why does the universe even exist? Emphasis is placed on choosing not to. These specific questions seek no formal review of logic in either science or religion; but in formal philosophy… which is science on steriods. If an idea cannot negate the negation of existence within formal logic; then it is considered religion/superstition in a much broader scope; and purposeless. Much of scientific endevour is rendered purposeless and superstitious to meta logics like formal philosophy and it’s mathematically redered language. Religion is a matter of perspective to be sure! By leaving purpose as undefined; or needing to unjustify the void (so to speak), formal logic stays one step ahead of the decision making process by abstracting potentialities and discarding paths that can be determined meaningless beforehand. This data provides direction, validation and conservation of resourse for the search parameters of science and religion. Formal systems of logic do not provide the meanings to actually search out and ‘settle these lands’. In fact, it most likely already has a negation for this action stored, as the action is already underway. Science and religion both go balls out with the idea that controlling ones destiny or ones environment is the have all be all. Formal philosophy seriously considers the meaning of such achievement, so that it may conserve the energy and search elsewhere for its ‘self-destructive’ proof (which the search of practically creates, in action, a passive existence closely resembling the negation of its axiomic base).

To get into how poly-deisms evolving to mono-theisms and onwards to deistically inverted poly-objectivisms, expands the topic quite a bit. The degree to which these stages of evolution have helped the society embracing them seize control of resource flow, also show a strong correlation behind the motivation of religion and science.
In terms of population control and resource flow control; the technology shows much greater verifiable impact than anything more intagibly ‘sought’ by these systems. The policy and economics of base ideation systems, tends to be more telling than the systems themselves when one parses transparency of ‘product guarantee’ so to speak.

Consolidating folklore deities into a doctrine-based meta deity, and then inverting the text-based deity into a deity which advertises the text in and of itself, has had much greater impact on the names we associate with as being holy than, anything suggestible from practice of the religion itself. Follow the money as they say…


I will not describe the insistence on facts and evidence as “dogmatic.” There are several definitions to both “dogma” and “dogmatism,” fortunately “insistence to be objective, requires evidence” is one of them.

I am familar with Kuhn and his idea of “paradigms.” I am not going to debate on the accuracy of his view, I will just point out that there are certain reasons why science works that way.

It certainly makes no sense to rush onto the scene when so called “new info” is presented. The very first thing to do is to decide if this new info is accurate and/or real.

I say skepticism is a good antidote to gullibility.

You mean a scientific hypothesis and non-scientific “stuff?”

If there’s any attempted refutation I haven’t seen any. Do you have any good Web sources?

Sure it can be falstified. For example, you can show that there is no common descent, or speciation is impossible due to some mechanism.

If there’s no way to distinguish scientific theories from non-scientific theories, how can we know whether we need to pay attention to some newly fangled stuff?

Superficially, perhaps, depending how these questions are phrased and interpreted.

Fundamentally, however, science and mythology are as apart as it can be, since mythology is really just the forebear of religion.

Calling scientific theories myths is a grave disservice to those who laboured all their lives in attempts to deliver humans from the shackles of mental enslavement.

The problem with this parallelism is mythologies doesn’t provide knowledge <em>per se</em>. Without going too much into epistemology it’s safe to note that mythologies and religions do not deliver knowledge in a form that can be accumlated and used as a foundation of other knowledge, nor do they reveal the true inner workings of nature in a fashion to allow humans to make accurate predictions and excert control over our surroundings.

Urban Ranger:

Regarding the “dogmatism” of the scientific community, if you’re interested, you could try looking into the writings of Michael Polanyi. Unfortunately I don’t have any reference material handy, although I would not be surprised if you could find some interesting stuff by Googling his name. His most well-known work is entitled “Tacit Knowledge.” I’ve not read it, but read some summaries of it; at any rate, the paper I’m thinking of specifically was written by him long before the book. Polanyi, by the way, was a polymer chemist who moved over into working on the philosophy of science.

Concerning the “insistence to be objective” that you claim informs science, I wonder if you could help us out a bit here and define that word, “objective.” While you’re at it, tell me how one can, with absolute certainty, go about acquiring, or producing, such “objective” knowledge, in reference to all fields of human experience. Thanks.

Concerning Kuhn’s version of science, well, I suppose one could argue back and forth about it. Popper argues against Kuhn, for example, that not all science follow the pattern of paradigm – normal science – anomaly – extraodinary science – paradigm shift, etc. Popper claims that such a pattern fits the historical development of physics quite well, but not, for example, biology. Personally, not being an expert, I can’t say how accurate Popper’s critique is. But we agree on the point regarding a healthy dose of skepticism in the face of new info. Regardless of the social determinants that affect the production of knowledge within the scientific community, the “conservatism” of science is IMHO one of its real strengths.

Concerning the “refutation” of Popper, and the general epistemological disarray of science, see in particular Lauden, L. “The Demise of the Demarcation Problem,” in Physics, Philosophy, and Psychoanalysis (edited by Cohen and Lauden; Reidel Publishing, 1983). I’ve come to understand that, at least among professional philosophers and historians of science, Popper’s falsification criteria is rather old-fashioned. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good web sources. But if you do some critical thinking about the question, you might come up with some refutations on your own.

Let me give you an example. Take this statement:

The moon is made of green cheese!

Using Popper’s criteria, is it, or is it not, a scientific statement? Was it one in the year 1850?

By the way, I can’t let you get away with your answer concerning evolution. Please be more specific.

You ask:

That’s what we can’t really figure out, and exactly why I claim that science is the mythology of the modern world. I know, that’s somewhat relativistic, and so yeah, I admit I’m overstating it a bit. But I guess I have a different definition of mythology than the one you use.

No disservice intended to the members of scientific community at all, by the way, for whom I have great respect. Good point at the end of your post concerning the difference between science and myth, but I don’t know if I agree fully with it.

One reason science cannot play the same role that religion does is because of the social aspect of religion. Science I believe is incapable of replacing the social dynamic of religions. Imagine people gathering at labatories on sunday mornings to hear lectures on quantum physics.

I will never, ever understand why some people insist that everything is faith.

With that said, I think that it is interesting that the “quick and dirty” dividing line between science and religion isn’t deification (should that prove to be a word-- and doesn’t it look a lot like “the act of shitting” :p) per se, but rather anthropomorphization… that is, “It can’t be a religion: it doesn’t have a god!” Uh-huh: says you, but from over here it seems that some do regard the scientific method with an awe that others reserve for crying statues of the Virgin Mary.

YMMV, but it isn’t something I would so quickly dismiss.

Markus, I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that you aren’t a scientist.

You can’t discuss your premise that science is a religion while ignoring the issue of “meaning”, since that is one of the main differences between science and religion - i.e. science is not concerned with the “meaning of life”, whereas religion is. You seem to have made a tacit assumption that there is a “why” to the universe, but you cry foul when that assumption is questioned.

O.K., I think I see what you are getting at. But that still begs the question of whether the universe was created. Maybe you are trying to say that science attempts to explain the way the universe works? But then that doesn’t fit the dictionary definition of religion that you posted. By the way, MY dictionary (Oxford American) says religion is “belief in the existence of a superhuman controlling power, especially of God or gods, usually expressed in worship.”

I’m not seeing your point. I was replying to your statement "So it looks like Science (Well Physics) is in search of what defines Religion (creator and governor of the universe)… ". Wave-function or no wave-function, physicists are NOT searching for a supernatural conciousness that created the universe. The two questions “what happened at the beginning of the universe?”, and “who created the universe?” are not equivalent.

That’s not what I was getting when I read your post. You seemed to be implying that there is necessarily some sort of abstract meaning to the universe. I got that impression from this sentence: “After humans work out how the universe works then science will have to answer WHY”. Is that not what you meant?

I believe I have “brought something to the table.” Let’s see YOU try to have an intelligent debate without being vulgar, o.k.?

It’s been my personal experience that the people who try to do so are those who want to elevate religion to the level of science. “Yeah, I’m taking these religious teachings on faith, but science uses faith too, so that’s okay!” :rolleyes:

I don’t think dogmatic is the right word. I think your second choice “conservatism” is more appropriate. Dogmatism implies that there is no other answer and never will be. This is not the case. If another, demonstrably more accurate method of gaining knowledge about the universe besides the scientific method came along, and scientists then refused to consider the new method, THEN you could say they were dogmatic. But sticking with the scientific method because it continues to have the best track record is quite reasonable. All this doesn’t mean that the scientific method is 100% accurate - far from it. But if you are advocating adopting a different way of gaining information, you need to do more than show problems with the scientific method - you need to show that the new way is better.

For what it’s worth, I found this website:
I don’t know if this guy represents the general consensus, but it at least shows that not everyone shares your belief that Popper is yesterday’s news.

I agree with you as far as science fulfills many of the same functions as mythology, but I wouldn’t use the word “myth” in describing scientific theories, except to the extent that popular misconceptions of scientific theories often do take on mythical qualities. But that’s more a problem of laymen not fully understanding science. I would say that science and religion are both “belief systems” perhaps, but science is not religion, and religion is not science.

Well, as the first to use the “f-word” here, I’ll beg to differ (Eris has heard this before)

All “faith” means is accepting something as true without proof! Would “belief without proof” be more acceptable?

Stating the obvious, that science accepts certain postulates as true, without proof, tentatively, is not elevating religion to a science or the converse. It is recognizing the limits of knowledge. It is making explicit the idea that science attempts to form continually more accurate approximations of “the truth” while religion often claims it is the truth. It is recognizing that science will never know “the truth” no matter how closely it approximates it.


I agree with most of what you’ve posted, but just for the sake of playing devil’s advocate…

Concerning the “dogmatism” of science, perhaps an example or two would be in order. I can think of couple right off the top of my head.

A weak example is the sort of day-to-day, layman’s dogmatism regarding science, that involves a sort of skeptical, knee-jerk response to anything that might go beyond the bounds of the commonly accepted, scientific view of the world. I see this sort of thing quite often, even here on the SDMB. The moment someone suggests that the universe might not be constructed in exactly the manner science claims, s/he is often called upon immediately to provide “scientific” evidence that his/her version of the universe might possess a modicum of validity. Since the version of things promoted by such an individual might not be particularly scientific, the proof is rather hard to come by. When such “scientific” proof is not forthcoming, the person in question is often heckled or ridiculed for being “gullible,” “misguided,” and so on. Basically what I’m trying to point out is that for such skeptics, science functions as a secular belief system, in a manner not at all unlike a religious belief system. They do actually have “faith” in science, and categorically, even dogmatically, dismiss all other possible interpretations of Nature.

A second example, which is arguably less dogmatism and more conservatism, could be the one Polanyi used in the paper I mentioned earlier. It concerned some research he had personally done regarding the behavior of polymers on a smooth surface. Because he proposed a rather radical interpretation of his experimental results, they were discounted, and wound up in the dust bin. 15 years later, some new experiments produced similar results, and eventually his interpretation was accepted. We can debate whether or not this should be considered an example of dogmatism or conservatism, but Polanyi uses the term “dogmatic” to describe the reaction he received. He argues that had no one performed the experiments that confirmed his work, it would probably still be in the dust bin. Nevertheless, Polanyi considers the “dogmatism” of science to be a good thing.

My final example, which I consider a strong argument for scientific dogmatism, is a debate currently raging here in Sweden over the status of a specific group problem children, many of whom have been diagnosed with some of the newer versions of MBD (minimal brain dysfunction), such as DAMP and ADHD. These disorders are relatively new neuropsychological entities (although MBD has been around since the 1930s). It is my understanding that the experimental evidence for the existence of these brain dysfunctions is in fact quite ambiguous, and the etiology is even more in dispute – proponents claim the physical “stigmata” of the are disorders so slight we have no real means of detecting them. (MBD was based on the idea that the lesions in the brain were so small as to be basically invisible.) Anyway, all that is a bit of an oversimplification, but never mind. The point is that a prominent psychiatrist here in country is pushing for the general acceptance of these diagnostic categories, which he also claims affects nearly 10% of the population. He proposes to treat them with lifetime doses of Ritalin.

Now, in the field of psychology, which is where I work, there are a lot of gray areas, and this is one of them. There are some people who argue that DAMP is just a means of stigmatizing a large number of unruly children, many of whom suffer from psychosocial difficulties rather than biological illness. But please believe me when I tell you that the scientific community gives short shrift to this kind of argumentation – in part because there is little or no scientific research to back it up. The scientific response to these sorts of arguments really cannot be described as anything other than dogmatic.

Sorry about the long-winded post. Just another couple of quick points and I’ll be finished.

Concerning Popper, for what it’s worth, I’ve read quite a bit. In fact, I have his Logic of Scientific Discovery sitting behind me on my bookshelf as I write this. I don’t know too much about his Probability Calculus, however, which is a dense thing indeed. I’m not sure my poor brain can encompass it. But I can say this; the relevance of Popper is a matter of context. Falsification is certainly used in formulating scientific experiments, at least here. But I am of the impression that aside from a few die-hard fans, Popper is no longer considered relevant in philosophical circles. I could, of course, be wrong, as this is merely a subjective impression. Anyway, off-hand I can come up with lots of difficulties in applying falsification as a demarcation criteria.

Regarding the differences between science and religion, I would have to say that at the very least, science lacks any sort of standard rituals for the laity, which I consider to be a necessary characteristic for a religion.

Finally, I wonder if you can explain the “scientific method” to me. Or, should I say, “methods?” :smiley: “Unity of method,” along with “intersubjective sense certainty,” were the clarion calls of positivism, but the problem was that no one could actually agree on precisely what this method was.

You guys are so frustrating…

SDMB always seems to have a couple threads about religion, but no one ever offers a definition of religion.

Check out this link for what I feel to be a fairly comprehensive definition:

This definition coincides with what I learned last year in a couple religion classes. That is that religion is a belief system that contains myths (such as creation stories), symbols (such as the bible, church, cross, God), and rituals (such as confession, praying). While religions may satisfy human curiosity to questions like “why do we exist?”, religion is a social function intended to bring together like-minded people for a common good.

I do not understand why anyone would think science plays this role at all. Science is based off of observations. That is it. As our technology advances, our ability to observe increases as well and scientists inferences from the observations increase leading to wide spread hypothesis regarding questions such as “why do we exist?”

I have often heard people mix the word “science” with “nature”, such as in the sentence, “Science is everywhere.” Science is the study of nature, not nature itself. That in itself is proof science cannot be a religion. Where is the confusion?