In the last chapter, I alleged that many beliefs people have regarding things associated with science are more matters of faith than science. I’ll try to clarify that some.
The problem of people confusing matters of “faith” and “science” appears to be fairly common, both among people who think they aren’t religious as well as those who do consider themselves to be religious. This problem is partly due to the overlap that there tends to be between faith and science. Most scientists have direct scientific knowledge through “experiments, observation, and reason” in their area of expertise. However, most people, including most scientists, don’t have direct scientific knowledge through “experiments, observation, and reason” in many areas of scientific knowledge. For them, their acceptance of such scientific knowledge is based partly on faith, faith in others who claim to have developed scientific knowledge through “experiments, observation, and reason.”
So, the line between science and faith is rather fuzzy, and will be different for different people. For example, consider Einstein’s equation relating energy (e), mass (m), and the speed of light (c):
e = mc2
Some people claim to actually understand the derivation and evidence for that equation. I am NOT one of those people. I did study some physics in college, but I did NOT major in it. However, I do believe that e=mc2 is valid and true, but not because I understand the physics behind it. I haven’t verified this equation to be true by reviewing experimental results, or by my own observation or my own reasoning. I believe it is true by faith. I have faith that Einstein and those who have reviewed and approved his work knew what they were doing. I have faith that Einstein was right based upon the wide acceptance of e=mc2 by the scientific community.
On the other hand, I did major in electrical engineering. One of the most fundamental equations of electricity is known as Ohm’s Law. It relates voltage (E) to current (I) and resistance (R):
E = I x R
I know this relationship to be true based on my own experiments, my own observations, and reason. Stated another way: I know Ohm’s Law to be true based on my own personal understanding of science. Faith is NOT involved for me when I affirm that Ohm’s Law is true.
Now the point of talking about faith and science like this is to help our understanding of the relationship between faith and science. Some people claim to only rely on science, and claim to want nothing to do with things of faith, not realizing how much of their reliance on science actually involves faith in science rather than their own direct observation and reason and understanding.
Let me try to summarize these thoughts. To the extent that something is directly observed or understood by an individual, it is a matter of science for that person, not faith. To the extent that something is believed, but NOT directly observed or understood by an individual, then it is a matter of faith to some degree, NOT just science. I find that many people seem to have more faith in science than knowledge about science.
For Further Reflection:
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