The Wall Street Journal‘s opinion page gives us the latest example of why the Science versus Religion debate is so dumb. In an editorial on climate change, author Robert Bryce laments:
Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere.
If science can discover new truths that supersede old ones, how can we have faith in science?
Um, because science it isn’t a belief system. Science is the process of finding facts, which necessarily includes openness to new information. Its about trusting the process over dogma. (Sadly, some of the New Atheists get confused on this too, declaring science to be some kind of new Truth. It’s not.)
Tim Minchin nailed the problem between the two approaches:
Science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
The WSJ believes, as an article of faith, that climate change cannot be real, so all contradictory observations must be denied. This kind of thinking represents a radical failure of our education system; a failure to teach what science is, and what it isn’t.
On climate change I agree with the formulations of former Presidential candidate John Huntsman:
All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them.
That’s trusting the process of discovery over dogma.