I search for truth in our shared experiences, our disagreements, the good that humankind promotes and the evil that we enact. We are artists and poets, writers and musicians, but destroyers of life. The one thing we never are is boring. It matters not one whit as to whether you believe or don't believe in God, for me it's about examining all of the possibilities. Science offers many answers but not all. Science is continually changing because valid science is born of a hypothesis and proof (See the scientific method). Sometimes the hypothesis cannot be proven. Sometimes the proof reveals a totally unexpected truth.
However, science without contemplation, without moral considerations can lead us into dark places. The medical experiments of Josef Mengele and others were clearly a search for scientific proof gone wrong. The whole science of eugenics was a perversion of science, yet for a time, those who believed in eugenics boldly cited scientific proof to support their beliefs. Is science bad and responsible for the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the United States' own little foray into forced sterilization of some of its citizens, mostly poor and black? Of course not, but such events are an indication that science can be perverted just as any other belief system.
Just as many of the Christian faiths in the U.S. sought to justify slavery, so did science. Negroes were judged inferior. Skulls were measured, brains were studied and the conclusion was that black people were intellectually inferior to whites, an idea that continued to be presented as having a scientific basis in 20th century works such as The Bell Curve. From the early 1920s to the 1970s, some 65,000 men and women were sterilized in this country, many without their knowledge, as part of a government eugenics program to keep so-called undesirables from reproducing. Then there were the scientific experiments known as the Tuskegee syphilis study. The clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama, studied the natural progression of untreated syphilis in poor, rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government.
The current worship of nuclear power is a perversion of science. We have the science to create nuclear power plants but it seems highly irrational to play with a substance that creates radioactive waste that is toxic to all life in some misbegotten belief that we can keep it under control. Depending on the half-life of the radiation, it could stay in a person for much longer than a lifetime. The half- life is the amount of time it takes for a radioactive material to decay to one half of its original amount. Some materials have half-lives of more than 1,000 years. I find this no more rational than the religious sects that deny medical treatment to their children because they believe that if they pray hard enough God will heal them.
What is inherent in our nature that makes us need to believe in something so strongly that we exclude reason and compassion from our thought processes? Our belief in science created the first atomic weapon, a weapon capable of wreaking havoc and devastation, a weapon capable of leaving behind lethal radioactive waste with an indefinite shelf life, when reason should have perhaps suggested that just because we could didn't mean that we should. Science has helped us create more efficient ways of killing; we can now kill humans and leave the buildings standing. What an accomplishment!
Am I opposed to science? No. Science has also been used to promote the greater good and I would not condemn all of science for its missteps. However, a belief in science is just as potentially dangerous as an unwavering belief in a man with a beard who lives in the clouds. Looking inwardly isn't about justifying our worst impulses; it's about studying what makes us who we are in order to find our way to being better than we are. Most people act without ever considering why they act. This is why mobs form so easily and get so out of control. Individually, most would not engage in the type of vicious and sadistic behaviors that they will as a group. How do we move beyond this mob instinct?
I think that it is far more complex than simply declaring that all people need to embrace science and reason. Either can be perverted as much as any religious belief because the issue lies within ourselves not the stars (Thanks Will). Certainly there have been magnificent advancements in science that have benefited us all; however, humankind has also used science to develop even more efficient ways of killing one another. Hanging the solution to today's problems solely on science or reason is no more rational than announcing that it's all in God's hands.
For me this is where psychology and philosophy must be added to the mix. Science is a type of knowing, based on proposing a hypothesis and designed experiments test and hopefully prove that theory. But that which makes us human goes beyond the concrete, factual answers that science can provide. What we do with that science is based on a complex working of human nature and science hasn't designed an experiment to take the full measure of what makes us tick. Perhaps psychology and philosophy lack the straightforward factuality of science but it is their study that continues to reveal the human psyche, bit by bit.
I doubt that I will persuade anyone who finds all of this to be some esoteric discussion based on belief that cannot be proven to consider this seriously but at least let's respect that we have differing perspectives.