An obscure yet still controversial engineer–physicist named Bill Gaede put out a video last year, inspired by Martin Luther, spelling out 95 theses against the current scientific consensus in physics. I’m in no position to evaluate his views on physics, but I find his take on the difference between science and religion fascinating. In this post I’ll try to condense some of his views on that narrow topic. You can watch the whole video here. Fair warning: his presentation style is rather eccentric. I find it quirky and fun, you may feel differently.
A description is a list of characteristics and traits. It answers the questions what, where, when, and how many.
An explanation is a discussion of causes, reasons, and mechanisms. It answers the question why.
An opinion is a subjective belief. What counts as “evidence”, “proof”, or “truth” is an opinion.
Science is the systematic attempt at providing explanations. Why do planets orbit stars? Why are some people rich and others poor? Why is there something instead of nothing? All questions that can be answered (to varying degrees) with science.
Note well that the experiments and observations per se are not science. The scientist takes those results for granted: they form his hypothesis—literally, that which is without a thesis or explanation. Technicians and assistants may carry out the observations and experiments. But the actual science is the explanation.
Religion is the systematic attempt at shaping opinions. Religion is not mere faith—the belief in things without evidence. Religion works through persuasion—the use of science and faith to appeal to your subjective beliefs about evidence and proof and truth.
Science is not be about persuading the audience. Good science is about providing consistent, logically sound explanations. An individual may have many religious reasons for their incredulity. But religious skepticism is not the concern of the scientist. The scientist is only concerned about logically valid explanations.