Science as Religion

I spoke with a friend this weekend who expressed that Richard Dawkins gives him the impression of advancing science as a religion. My knee-jerk reaction was that I have read and heard enough Dawkins to know that he tries very hard to give the opposite impression, that science is about reasoning on good evidence while religion is characterized (to some extent) by believing things on bad or no evidence.

Later on, however, I recalled some idea that had made its way into my mind (from a Ted talk probably? which I can’t find… help wanted!) that people identify with religion because of the kind of person they want to be. I’ve let this idea roll around my thoughts for a few months now, and it has helped me to understand my past beliefs. I followed Jesus because I believed he had the means and desire to improve the world. I think this is different than why my friends and family did and do follow Jesus, and I think this difference is linked to why my faith has changed relatively frequently and drastically, despite many of my core values remaining strangely in tact.

While it would be a horrible abuse of language to say, “Science is my religion”, there is a very valuable sense in which it is true. The spirit of science is bright wonder amid cold honesty, and that is the kind of person I want to be. The fruit of science is technology, and I turn first to technology now (as I turned to Jesus-and-technology before) for the means to improve the world. The great thing about science is that it is perhaps the most reliable thing we have available to us, and the fact that it doesn’t answer the questions we might be asking just strengthens the notion that it is part of the real world.

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