Reply to post: Belief has nothing to do with it: The fundamental difference between religion and science

Climate-change skeptic lined up to run NASA in this Trump timeline


Belief has nothing to do with it: The fundamental difference between religion and science

Science is not based on belief, but is based on hypotheses, theories, and models. I do not believe in gravity, but I know the theory of gravity and I found that it can explain and predict many phenomena that I observe. The same is true for electromagnetism and all other scientific models.

As a scientist, I actually know that the best scientific theories are fundamentally flawed approximations of reality: relativity theory and quantum mechanics, the very foundations of our scientific world view, contradict each other. So the best I can do as a scientist is: (1) understand the scientific theories, and (2) know when a particular theory will work (i.e., give me a useful prediction). After a few years (or decades) of doing that, a scientist will be awfully good in predicting the outcome of a particular experiment based on those flawed scientific theories.

The church is based on the belief in a fundamental truth (i.e., existence of god). It's the opposite of science. A 'good' priest will be unwavering in his belief, whereas a 'good' scientist will always doubt his scientific theories. A scientific career equals the search for some new piece of knowledge that will contradict (and thereby improve) the existing scientific models.

Let's translate this to climate science. Climate scientists don't believe in man-made climate change, but scientists found a correlation between global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations, realized that human industrialization increased this CO2 concentration, and created a scientific model to explain this observation. Ever since, numerous scientists tried to confirm or contradict this model. After a few decade of this work, the vast majority of scientists is convinced that the model of man-made global warming correctly models and explains current atmospheric temperature changes and can also predict the trend of future temperature changes.

This is not belief, it's confidence in a scientific model. Being science, that confidence can be expressed numerically. Now imagine a priest saying: "I am 99.7% confident that god exists".

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