27 September, 2020

Doubting Thomases

Unlike religious faith, scientific belief rests on evidence and logic

illustration by Jayachandran
Doubting Thomases
Science is not a religion. It has many of religion’s virtues but none of its vices. The principal vice of any religion is faith. Faith is belief that is not based upon evidence. I could make the case that faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the small-pox virus but harder to eradicate. It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus. Who, looking at the Middle East today, can be confident that the brain-virus of fundamentalist faith is not more dangerous?

Here I shall content myself with pointing out the difference between scientific belief and religious faith. Scientific belief is based upon publicly checkable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence; its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would so much be made of Doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as virtuous because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas could be the patron saint of scientists. He wanted evidence.

I believe in the fact of evolution; I even believe...


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