The scientific method has developed significantly during the recent centuries, along with the dramatic development of science and technology, which derived from putting that method to the test. None of our ancient “sages” ever came close to the tip of the current scientific knowledge iceberg, starting from the structure of the universe and its laws, through modern medicine, to the research of history itself. None of our past mystical “prophets” ever came close to the scientific prediction ability: Future weather, volcanic eruptions, the sex of an unborn child, the next lunar eclipse, and the odds of a sick person healing.
The scientific method has many known components, aimed at researching things objectively, while overcoming one’s personal thoughts and views. It is worthwhile emphasizing two essential differences from other ways of drawing conclusions, such as the religious way:
Doubt — The scientific method always doubts everything. Each conclusion is always accepted with reservations, inviting the public to refute things. Each hypothesis is never disqualified in advance. The religious way, in contrast, strictly forbids doubting certain claims.
Seemingly Sensible — Scientific conclusions are accepted based on evidence and empirical results, not on what appears “sensible” to us. Many times they contradict our common sense (which is due to the fact that our common sense has evolved to serve only our daily survival). Common sense, for example, dictates that matter cannot be created from nothing, complex things cannot be created naturally, and time is absolute. The relevant scientific conclusions deal with matter that is created from nothing, complex things that are created naturally, and relative time.
A good example of abusing these principles may be found in religious preaching video clips. Some of them quote Prof. Stephen Hawking as an enthusiastic supporter of ‘God’ – an entity that makes sense to many. Within his movies and articles Hawking mentions several times that ‘God’ may exist. He does so – exactly to demonstrate the above principle of ‘doubt’. Then he carries on explaining that even if we cannot totally disqualify this hypothesis, it is not supported by any evidence. The preaching video clips perform a classical example of taking things out of context, by quoting only the first part, thus reversing the meaning.
And this is exactly how the scientific method treats the various gods of our world: Cute hypotheses that should not be disqualified in advance, but unsupported by – and not needed for all our current scientific knowledge, which maintains its integrity without them.
Religious believers as well as scientists and researchers – are often in a conflict between their feeling of common sense and the cold scientific data. The scientists and researches make it their habit to separate their personal feelings from factual data. Indeed it seems unreasonable for the eyes to form through the process of natural selection – it would be a lie to say otherwise. However, the evidence we have confirm this process. The “wonder” is in the eye of the beholder, not in the actual reality.
Some resolve this contradiction by living in two parallel worlds. While in the “religious” mode they may seriously discuss heavenly commandments, the exodus and Noah’s ark. While in a more scientific environment, their arguments will be totally different. Others form solutions that bend both sides of each contradiction in creative ways, in order to bring them closer. This is how funny stories evolve: Stories that match the biblical creation with the big bang, stories of animals that are “ruminant” by chewing their feces, textual “evidence” about how our ancient sages were discussing quantum mechanics between prayers.
The third way of dealing with the contradictions is to simply shut one’s eyes. Those who adopt this way of thinking are not confused by facts. They insist on the correctness of the “religious conclusions” vs. the mistakes of the scientific method. The loud ones collect all kinds of “anti” statements, historically raised during the establishment of scientific theories, and use them – out of ignorance – as if they are winning arguments.
The extremists often choose a direct attack. Regardless of any fact, the researchers and scientists are named “minority”, “hallucinatory” – and based for example on their Jewish background – “self-hating Jew”, “Anti-Semitic” or other fun nicknames related to the scientific method as much as a particle accelerator is related to ancient Chinese cooking.