Science and Dogmatism

May 10th, 2013

This is the first part in a series of articles focusing on problems in and around science, religion, and ethics.

Science works as a set of principles which, when applied as a methodology, gives us information about reality. These principles are based on assumptions about how we think reality might operate at a fundamental level.

Unfortunately, there are some who insist that Science’s claim on reality is much stronger. In this view, scientific understandings are asserted as absolute truths about the nature of reality. Assumptions about the underlying structure of nature are treated as known facts, and anyone who questions them is deemed ignorant.

This dogmatic view is not what Science is about.

To put it in simple terms: Science doesn’t dictate reality; Science describes reality. The discoveries we make through scientific methods are conclusions we have come to based on our previous assumptions about how the world works. As soon as something happens which occurs outside these assumptions, our ideas about reality must be rethought, revised, and possibly removed as we refine our understanding of reality. Some might say this process is a weakness. However, it should be viewed as a strength.

The universe, in all probability, does not operate in strict accordance to the laws of Nature we have created to describe it. These laws are simply (often extremely) accurate depictions of how we think the universe works according to observances and experimentation. While it may certainly seem like our understanding of the universe is improving based on our advances, we have no standard with which to compare our progress other than with the progress itself.

Science is not an infallible process. At its foundation, it rests on a set of principles which are held on faith. To think of Science as anything more than this is to step outside of the world of methodology and into the realm of metaphysics.

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