Christina S. Chen: Atheism and the Assumptions of Science and Religion

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Atheism and the Assumptions of Science and Religion

Christina S. Chen

“There’s this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out.”[1] I have to credit Richard Dawkins for having some sense of humor because I find the remark to be rather funny.  But I think Dawkins should also know that there’s this thing called being so close-minded that your brain drops dead.  Dawkins is among the many atheists out there who advocates scientific “fundamentalism,” arguing for people to embrace science and shed their religious beliefs because they are not only “dangerous” but also irrational.[2] According to him, religious people are too open-minded because they believe in something that isn’t provable.  What Dawkins and many others fail to realize is that scientific discoveries that have been “proven” to be “true” are all founded on at least six assumptions that are not rationally supported (compared to the zero assumptions that theists who don’t claim to know the nature of God make); therefore, science largely depends on faith and should not be considered as more– and perhaps should be considered as less–credible than religion.

Since science starts out with at least three assumptions that aren’t provable, it may be more rational to take science less seriously than religion, which starts out with zero.[3] Before scientists perform any kind of experiments, they start out with these basic assumptions: (1) that the experimental procedures will be performed adequately without any intentional or unintentional mistakes that will impact the results (2) that the experimenters won’t be considerably biased by their preconceptions of what will happen (3) that the random sample is representative of the entire population and that any random sampling that isn’t won’t significantly impact the results (4) that nature has regularity; most if not all things in nature must have at least a natural cause[4] (5) that there is such a thing called Objective Reality (6) and that science at least partly corresponds to that Objective Reality.  Therefore, when we think about it more deeply, the foundation of science is actually faith, a term usually used to describe religion, not science.  In comparison, theists who claim that God exists and don’t claim to know anything else about God base their belief on one currently true fact: that not everything can be explained by natural means.[5] Because scientists make at least six assumptions and theists make none, it is actually (and ironically) more rational to believe in God than in science.

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