Pro Logica

December 6, 2012

Scientism–the Religion of Science

Filed under: Philosophy of Science, Religion — Tags: , — Ron Toczek @ 3:52 pm

Not so very long ago an internet science site essentially posed this question in a contest format:  Of all the assumptions underlying the physical sciences, which one is the most dubious?  Since there were bound to be many answers, I imagined that the winner would be the one with the best argument.  I never did follow up to see what the winning entry was but have thought about it at times, coming up with good assumptions but absolutely no argument why those assumptions are dubious.  Take the ‘Big Bang’ concept in cosmology.  From a theoretical mathematicians perspective it certainly is an assumption but there is nothing dubious about it.  It does supply answers to questions and for many scientists it is nothing but a working hypothesis until something better comes along.  (Unfortunately, there are many who consider their belief in the ‘Big Bang’ to be more than belief.)  The same can be said of other assumptions masquerading as concepts such as evolution or the universal laws of natural physics.

Within the last month or two I have entertained an idea which, although not dubious, does play havoc with the really basic assumption of science, the scientific concept of the ‘real world’.  This concept represents an abstraction from the sense experiences of (all?) human consciences and is believed to be representable as a model within some complete abstract mathematical system that can be found by proper investigation–the so-called scientific method.  Aside from the explicit assumption in the last sentence, there are two even more basic and hidden assumptions which render that explicit assumption a necessary consequence.  First, humans are assumed to be incidental  to and, consequently, independent of the ‘real world’ ; and second, the principles of mathematical creation are embedded within this ‘real world’ and consequently also exist independently of human consciences.  As long as human consciences exist no proof is available and if humans do extinct themselves these assumptions disappear and cannot even have a meaningful formulation.

Being blunt, if the belief in God can be called a religion, so the belief in an independent ‘real world’ can also be called a religion.  An advantage to a belief in a Christian God introduces love and morals into the world.  What do you get with scientism?

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