Science and the humanities are often shown as contrasting irreconcilable fields and even ways of thinking. This point of view is often taken too far by people who do not sufficiently understand both fields. Romanticists sometimes view science as cold, unsympathetic, and unable to understand qualitative truths because of its dependence on logic. Scientists on the other hand might view Romanticism as unfounded, delusional, and superstitious. Neither of these points of view are correct, as there is truth to be found in different ways in both, and some truths require knowledge from both fields.
Science has for a long time been a field that along with math was thought to be deterministic and objective. With logic and scientific method, all truth in the universe was thought to be attainable. In the past 200 years though, scientists and mathematicians have found that this is most likely not the case, based on what we know now. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, Einstein’s relativity and the field of quantum physics all show a distinct lack in the ability of science as we know it to account for everything, if that is even possible.
Before continuing, below is an explanation of scientific method, if you are not fully familiar with it.
Even if we do not go into such advanced topics though, science has never been about finding undeniable proof. In fact, the very concept of undeniable proof is something science has never been able to do or even promoted. Science relies on scientific method, the idea that to see how something really works, you must make sure you are looking at only it, and not mistaking it for something else. What this means in practice is that to understand how something works, you must figure out a way to study it and isolate it from other things that may change it. To do this you must have the correct means of studying it such as a microscope or antenna. You must also try to figure out how to conduct the experiment to get rid of anything that might interfere with detecting what you want to measure, such as external sounds creating waves that push your sensors, electronics that create electromagnetic fields, or air currents that accidentally push a force sensor. Any of these things will give you a different result based on a completely different cause which you aren’t trying to learn about, so you won’t get meaningful measurements. You must also make sure that you do not measure the values incorrectly even once you have isolated the system, otherwise you could be adding a few centimetres because you didn’t line up the ruler, or didn’t use a force detector sensitive enough to measure the small force something has, which would result in you concluding that there was no force. Once you’ve conducted the experiment you must also use math, known science and logic to make meaningful conclusions and find the truth you were looking for. If any of these steps goes wrong, you can have completely incorrect answers and thus the truth you were looking for would be wrong and meaningless.
This is why scientists perform experiments hundreds of thousands of times, because with each experiment you conduct the chances of making the same mistake are reduced, so you can eliminate the erroneous data and find the patterns in the good data. Scientific method is a way of minimising error to get as close to the truth as possible, it does not suggest that anything it concludes is objectively accurate. This is inductive reasoning, finding truth from examples. Therefore, science does not claim to know anything for sure, and it should not claim to know more than what can be found in the humanities.
Science, Religion, and Atheism
Religions generally rely on faith, as opposed to scientific method. They do not try to be careful about how truth is found, they do not even generally try to find truth, instead they offer what they claim is the truth and do not question it. This should be considered as beliefs, ideas that offer a solution for things we do not yet know. While some religious ideas may directly contradict scientific evidence, that does not in any way prove that the religious ideas are wrong, because as stated previously science does not claim to be objectively correct. There is always room for error and updating ideas in science, which means that the ideas that a religion would suggest should not be discarded simply because they contradict the current scientific theory. Anyone who claims that the current scientific theory is objective and absolute does not understand how science works, because that is too close minded. This does not however mean that one should simply accept the religious ideas as absolute and objective either, since that is equally close minded.
The idea of a god for example is something that science cannot yet or perhaps ever disprove, by the nature of what a god is. It might be so abstract and universal that to prove that a god exists would require a fundamental knowledge and practical means of discovering how the universe and reality work on the most fundamental scale. Furthermore, since religious are often not very clear or well defined, is it difficult to disprove such a claim that can be interpreted in different ways. To claim that a god does not exist is a belief, not a truth that you should force on others.
People should be free to choose what they believe in, whether it be what evidence shows is most likely true, or what religions claim is true. Most claims of objective truth, such as religious and atheistic extremists are simply arrogant, close minded assumptions. As such atheism and religions are quite similar, they both rely on faith. Atheists are different because they have faith in science which can be incorrectly thought of as objective. This leads them to believe that their faith is actually justified while the faith of religious people is simply superstition that cannot be justified and is therefore inferior to science.
This worship of science can lead to rejection of humanist ideas, which leads back to my original point that science and humanities are not opposites. When one views them as opposites and picks a side, they become an extremist, which is an unstable point of view that generally leads them further and further away from a balanced life and the truth. Religious extremists are more well known, they interpret things as they see fit, claim to know the objective truth, and are too close minded to consider the possibility that they are wrong. They often become violent in support of their religious views.
Scientific extremists are less commonly identified, partly because of the guise that science offers them as being correct. Extremists of this kind are the kinds of people who will sacrifice others for the sake of their religion, science. They do so to learn truth, but in a way the same an be said for religious zealots. When scientists sacrifice other humans to advance science they are misusing science for meaningless goals.
Scientific progress simply for the sake of progress is illogical. This circular logic is simply an excuse for them to do what they want, instead of having to justify it with moral reasons. They might claim that science helps people, but that is not an inherent truth. Science has also many times before hurt people, as weapons engineers, nuclear scientists, and chemical and biological scientists should know well. Scientists and engineers have knowledge that few other people have, and therefore have the power to advance the world’s knowledge of certain things and create tools for others to use that change the world. Tools and knowledge though can be used for both good and bad, and therefore the scientists who control what the world can do are put in a position of considerable power to change the future. This power must also be accompanied with diligent responsibility. Scientists, or anyone for that matter, cannot simply justify the policies and actions of their industries simply because they are a part of them. They have no obligations or loyalties to these artificial constructs of societal need. The only obligation these people of so much power have is a moral one, to use science responsibly and to help people.
When science is misused to hurt people, the fanatics win. Science is an interesting and very useful, even essential part of life, which is why it must be used with purpose. It is not merely a tool nor a way to learn more, it is both of these things which makes it also extremely dangerous. Of all the natural disasters and human caused violence that can happen, perhaps the most likely to be able to cause the most damage are those caused by the misuse of science. This kind of science is meaningless and thus should not be done.
Artificial intelligence can develop cures to diseases and help humanity in numerous others ways, but none of that is even remotely worth it if the AI decides that humans should be controlled or killed. An extremist scientist might say that the AI would know better which might even justify it killing us, which is again illogical because the AI, just like us, has no guarantees to know any objective truth, and perhaps even less than us since it is purely logical. Such a creation would be uncontrollable and would essentially be life that can control all of our machines, leavin us powerless. Any scientific creatyion that cannot be controlled, including proliferation of advanced weapons such as nuclear, chemical, biological, or even cybernetics, should be considered a crime against humanity and should never be made. Science can be used for so much more for so much less risk. We should focus our scientific research on quantum computers, warp drives, sustainable food and energy, curing diseases, and other things that not only contribute to our knowledge but also directly help people.
Do not be so arrogant as to think that science will offer you all the answers and that that will be enough to make risks on. Science is open mindedness, which is essential in every field of study. Trey to learn the truth as objectively as you can, and be open to new ideas.
Learn new things and be open to being wrong, when you are right use it to help people.