The other day one of my Christian wackadoodle facebook friends (sorry, if you say creationism should be taught in science classes as if this had some supportable basis in reality, then you’re going to be called wackadoodle. That’s just plain nuts) started in with this false equivalency nonsense, you have your opinion and I have mine, and you all treat science like it’s a religion. I wanted to write a column saying of course we don’t, we don’t go to a church of science, we don’t pray to science, science doesn’t work that way, and then I thought about it a bit more. Is science my religion? One could do worse. To some, football is a religion. To others, organic gardening is.
Here’s how I see it, though: Along about a million or two years ago (scientists keep changing the date on this with fresh evidence), about the time that homo sapiens started to come down from the trees, people must have felt the changes in the air with the seasons, and noticed the sun by day and the stars by night, and wondered what the hell was going on.
So, they started to make up stories about people who lived in the sky, and in the rocks and trees, and this marked us as different from the other animals. Viewed one way, this was the dawn of intellectual curiosity. Viewed another, this was the beginning of religion – and science – and magic – and art.
Like the primary colors, like the periodic table of elements, these four mix and match in various ways to create a vast range of ways to perceive the universe.
Of course there is a science of religion. It’s called theology. There is the science of magic and the art of magic. I’m sure magicians have philosophical debates about that among themselves all the time. There is certainly a magic to art, if it’s any good. When a musician hits the right notes, it can be as powerful as any love potion brewed by a voodoo witch (speaking of religion).
There is magic in science, both in the Arthur C. Clarke sense of ‘any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic, and also in the very real sense of what it does. Science creates machines that fly through the air. Science creates telescopes which can see to the edge of the universe. I am able to type these words, and people on the other side of the world, maybe even people centuries from now, may see them, and be affected by them. They take on a life of their own. That is magic.
There is certainly an art to science. Sure, a lot of it is boring examination and testing of hypotheses, but coming up with those hypotheses, that takes an artist. Or, in religious terms, a leap of faith. Einstein was an artist. Tesla was an artist. Scientists with a bit of flair.
So, maybe science is a sort of religion. That doesn’t mean you should be able to teach creationism in public schools. Because that’s just nonsense.