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Since there is no unanimous, unchanging scientific consensus how is scientific knowledge more reliable than religious knowledge?

I might not have articulated this question as well as my religious peers manage to do it. But essentially, EVERY TIME I say that there is no evidence to back up their belief in a god, they positively love to respond to my statement by saying that there is no evidence to back up science because science is so prone to change that the truth that we know now might not be the truth of tomorrow, etc, etc. Like how the earth “used to be” flat, but is now round. They also adore to bring up how they are in AP chemistry and I am not, and therefore they know far better than I do how science contradicts itself… Since I am not in AP chemistry, I guess that I have no idea what they are talking about at all. On the other hand, I doubt that Richard Dawkins – an Oxford-educated scientist – thinks that science contradicts itself in such a way that it can be considered as untrue or as true as religion is. And I am sure that he knows more than they do about AP chemistry.

Anyway, are science and religion the same when it comes down to what is true, what is untrue, or what is relative?
(If anyone knows anything at all about chemistry, that would be cool and helpful… if not, then any answer is still helpful).

Posted: March 16th 2009

George Ricker www

The scientific enterprise is not about absolutes, It is a process, a way of looking at the universe and everything in it that depends upon verifiable information, experimentation and confirmation. It is when we discover new facts and discover errors in current explanations that science progresses. But sciences are always works in progress and no one ever gets the last word.

Most religions, on the other hand, claim already to have the last word. They claim to possess absolute truths that are permanent and unchangeable for all eternity.

The chief difference between the two is that science seems to work. Religions confer no measurable benefits that may not be obtained through other means.

Science has shown us the earth is not flat. Left to their own devices, religions still would be claiming that it is.

Posted: March 17th 2009

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George Locke

Your classmates are arguing total nonsense. They present the case that religion doesn’t change, and is therefore reliable, whereas science changes and is therefore unreliable. This is plainly wrong. Reliability is earned by a track record of success, not by a track record of failing to adapt.

Your classmates are taking the position that anything that changes must be unreliable, but it’s very easy to argue that science’s track record is one of improvement. When you point this out, they will be forced into the position that anything that improves is unreliable. The more they say science has changed, (e.g. flat world to general relativity) it’s just that much more that science has improved, so they’re saying that the more something has improved, the less reliable it is. This is so patently ridiculous that it should give pause to even the most ardent zealot.

Posted: March 16th 2009

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logicel

You could say how pleased (smile and grin broadly when you are saying the word pleased—you can even jump up and down in glee!) you are that they are learning the immensely important and valuable aspect of science, that it has the ability to correct its mistakes. Then let out a big sigh, and say, oh how very sad (make a very down, frowning face) it is that religion is unable to do that, and that many religious believers are laboring under misconceptions due to their dogma that knowledge is absolute and unchanging.

And repeat ad nauseam (make them gag) your excellent point (good job!) that though they may be taking an advanced placement chemistry class, many scientists with an super-mega advanced, advanced, advanced grasp of scientific knowledge are thrilled in being able to wield the tools and knowledge base of science to correct their mistakes and contribute to the continuing advancement of our knowledge.

Tell them not to get discouraged, that after many years of hard work and studying they could perhaps hold their own with such scientists. Then walk away, saying that you got some interesting science book to read (Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish is a good one) written for the layperson so they can appreciate why science’s self-correcting approach is so important in the advancement and improvement of our daily lives.

Posted: March 16th 2009

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