Often religious believers will claim that science can’t apply to religion. What they really mean to say is that they would rather not apply science to religion because if science were to apply to religion, it would be extremely obvious that religious claims are not actually true. So of course they will assert that science can’t apply to religion because if you are a religious person, you have to believe that or sacrifice your religion to the alter of science.
There, lies the point. The scientific method is our best tool for understanding the world. It helps us to evaluate claims, taking our own personal biases out of the equation. It doesn’t matter how much I want something to be true; through the scientific method I can discover if something is actually true or not.
A religious person may want God to be true and they may even think that belief in God is useful in making people more moral, but their desires don’t make their beliefs actually true. Their beliefs are either true or false independently of their desires. How can we know whether their beliefs are true or false? We have to use the scientific method. There is no other way. We must apply science to all claims even religious ones.
Any person who holds to false beliefs are going to claim that science can’t apply to their beliefs. The 24-hour psychic will also make the same claim, not because their claim has any real validity, but rather because their trade can’t stand up to the methodical evaluation of science.
Sam Harris humorously alluded to this in his debate with Rabbi David Wolpe. Here is the clip from that debate:
- Religion Is Comfortable With Science… Only To A Point (skepticink.com)
- ‘Scientific Method led me to Jesus Christ’ (skepticink.com)
- Secret cancer cure found in Bible? (examiner.com)
- Religious Strife vs. Scientific Advancement (skepticink.com)