It’s Not for Believing In

May 7, 2014

I hereby decree…

Anyone who says they “believe in science” needs to be slapped.

Let me explain.

Specifically, I’m referring to when people declare this belief in place of a religious belief. Such as when asked what their religious beliefs are or to describe their secular humanism, they might say something like, “No, I don’t believe in any all-powerful gods. I believe in science.”

And it’s annoying because this person who thinks they’re affirming science so strongly is actually greatly misunderstanding a most basic thing about it. Which is… science isn’t something you “believe” in. Science just is. It is fact. It’s like saying you believe in the existence of Canada or horses or diabetes. You just sound silly saying you believe in something that’s pretty undeniably real. As if a diabetic Canadian equestrian were standing right in front of you.

Furthermore, when reducing science to a mere “belief”, you’re playing the ignorant religious fundamentalists’ game and slightly validating their beliefs in unprovable divine things (or disproved things they stubbornly cling to), allowing them to deliberately deny real scientifically proven things as just some other belief they personally don’t hold, or to just insist their actual beliefs should be given the same credence.

On a related note, can we stop with the whole “creationism vs evolution” thing? That has the same problem, in that acting as if there were a debate there at all implies creationism has any merit. It doesn’t. In fact, even within religion, the creation story is a non-issue. Hell, according to my grandmother, my great-grandfather, who was born in 1887 and died in 1966 and was a priest, wasn’t even a creationist. I’ve known a lot of religious people, but I don’t think I’ve known a single creationist. What does Christianity lose by excising Genesis? Fucking nothing! Jesus was way later, after all.

Also, what pisses me off much more about “creationism vs evolution” is that, along with giving the creation story any merit, it allows the creationists to dictate the conversation. I realized this several years back when I shared a cool news story on a forum about micro-evolution in bacteria… and absolutely every comment on it was “LOL that’ll show those creationists what idiots they are!” I finally came back and asked “Is that really all you have to say about this?” And they seemed confused at this, not thinking there even would be anything else to say about it.

Which is what frightens me about a lot of discourse on this I see online. When the only thing you can think to say or discuss about evolution is anything about religion or creationism, then the creationists win. They want to make the whole issue about them, and they are succeeding. Instead of marveling at the breathtaking wonder that is the changes and adaptations of life over lots and lots of time, the primary thought seems to be “but some religious idiots think God did it in a week!” Makes me think that, if not for the creationists being loud and annoying and stupid, these people probably wouldn’t care about evolution. Or science at all for that matter. That is pretty damn sad.

But that’s just the difference between actual scientists and mere anti-theists. I was a science major in college and have worked in scientific settings for a decade since. You know how much actual scientists think about what religious people are saying? Not at all! Not even on their radar. Because what fundamentalist zealots are screaming about does not matter. The work isn’t meant to be “against” them. The work is simply for the discoveries and progress.

That isn’t to say religious fundamentalists shouldn’t be swatted down when they try to stick religion where it doesn’t belong. In fact, absolutely any science vs religion scenario seems to be really a situation where religion is being stuck where it doesn’t belong. Government and medicine, in particular. The thing about creation, aside from, as said, being a religious non-issue, is that the origin of the universe isn’t religion’s domain. Religion is about community, folklore, personal morals, ideas on higher powers and afterlife, and outlook on life, give or take. Explaining the natural universe simply isn’t the work of faith. That’s the work of observations and testing of hypotheses, rinse, repeat. Also known as science.

And the religious domain of community, folklore, personal morals, ideas on higher powers and afterlife, and outlook on life, give or take, are all things that involve belief.

Science doesn’t need your belief. We can just find out the truth for ourselves. That’s kind of the point of it.