I was talking to a friend the other day, and she made an excellent point to me that explained why a lot of people don’t have faith in the scientific method. Part of the problem, you see, has to do with chicken eggs.
30 years ago, nutrition scientists came out and against dietary cholesterol. Eggs, it was proclaimed by many, were evil, and could lead to heart attacks.
Well, this news was not particularly well taken. People, it seems, really like eggs. Eggs have been eaten since the beginning of history, recorded or not. It is very difficult to make a birthday cake without an egg, and far more difficult still to make an omelet.
Still, science had decreed eggs to be bad, and thus people, trying to be good little healthy citizens, cut back on them.
So how did people react when, in 2007, a study of 9,500 people reported in Medical Science Monitor showed that eating one or two eggs a day did not increase the risk of heart disease or stroke among healthy adults.
Well, they were not outraged. Mostly, what they did was sigh, shrug their shoulders, and put another check mark in the column on the unreliability of science.
This kind of thing happens all the time, from the perspective of the average citizen. One week science will say something…the next week science will say the exact opposite. Scientific predictions fail. Scientific proclamations are refuted after a lot of fanfare. To the lay person, there seems to be a very good reason to believe that science is no where near having its shit together.
The problem is a combination of Junk Science and the media. There is, without doubt, a lot of bad science out there. The results of experiments are announced before being properly reviewed. As these experiments tend to make bolder claims (it’s easy to make bold claims based on poor scientific evidence), the media love them. The media is by and large scientifically illiterate, and is not capable of evaluating the value of an experiment on its own. Often, they publish the results as 100% factual, even when the results clearly show a significant margin of error and clearly state that more research must be done.
Trust once lost is not an easy thing to gain back. So, how can we expect the non-scientifically educated public to trust science when they are given reasons every day as to why they should not?
Creationism and Intelligent Design are pure junk science. Its proponents profoundly reject the scientific method, which, as I said before, might better be described as the accepted truth evaluation methodology. Thus, quoting out of context, science so bad that even calling it junk gives it too much credence, out-and-out lies, and misinformation and smear campaigns are standard operating procedure practiced by those attempting to promote their agenda.
What seems bluntly obvious to me is that religion, rather than being at odds with science, should be its greatest watch keepers. The one thing agreed upon by virtually all theists is that God created the universe. God is, in effect, the universe’s author. It stands to reason that God, if He is fair, would weave his commandments and laws into the fabric of the universe itself.
Science, being the accepted truth evaluation methodology, is effectively man’s best way to read God’s holy word as it is etched into the universe’s fabric. The Bible has been demonstrated again and again to be a document which can be read multiple ways. The universe, on the other hand, is truly inerrant. Good science will read God’s word within the universe the same way, no matter where you are in the universe, no matter what time, no matter what belief system you were raised under.
So I would LOVE to see religion actually start to defend God’s first and ONLY signed work, the Universe, with the same enthusiasm that they have used to defend the errant words written by man in the past. Were religious leaders actually to do this, then the conflicts between atheists and believers would diminish to practically nothing.
But this provides that religion defend the universe FIRST, as this would be indisputably in the theists mind God’s first and inerrant primary source, and their own religious works second. Any work corrupted by the hand of man cannot be chosen over the Universe, which is incorruptible. Science is very corruptible, but with proper management, it can be used as an ideal tool, and indeed ONLY tool, to reveal God’s true word.
Bad science, which proclaims falsehoods against the universe and thus against God, could be defined as a true sin. The accepted truth evaluation methodology should be taught in Sunday school with passion and with vigor. As a non-violent man I don’t feel stoning is a proper punishment, but shunning would certainly be appropriate, and not allowing them to practice the truth methodology again until they can get some better education and can thus repent for their sins would seem more than fair.
And yes, I am totally serious about this. I am an agnostic, admittedly. I do not truly know if God exists. But, if God does exist, then worshiping and studying his creation makes a tremendous amount of sense to me.
Belief is a private choice. Truth is universal. Everyone is free to believe what they want to believe, but when it comes to truth, everyone benefits from understanding it as it clearly as possible.