Modern science presupposes confidence (or faith) that the same physical laws always apply throughout the universe.Actually, the "confidence" that scientists have regarding physical laws applying to places beyond our local surroundings isn't a "faith" issue.
It's a result of empirical observations coupled with parsimony (aka "Occam's Razor").
That leads us to a very reasonable working assumption of the same physical laws applying throughout the universe.
The same laws of physics developed by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, etc to explain the motion of objects on our Earth also appear to work very well in space for predicting the paths of artificial satellites and space probes, planets, and stars.
The same spectrographic pattern that indicate the presence of chemical elements observed on the Earth are also observed in planets and stars far away from us.
One simple explanation to explain the commonality in physical and chemical observations on the Earth and in the heavens is that the same physical laws apply in both places.
A more complex explanation would be that there are different physical laws on Earth and in the heavens that appear to produce the same results in terms of motion and spectroscopic analysis.
However, the more complex explanation runs into problems due to "Occam's Razor" - a very useful principle for evaluating competing scientific explanations for phenomena.
One short definition of "Occam's Razor" is the following:
" ... that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory."So ... the simplest explanation for the accumulated facts and observations that we have comparing chemistry and physics on Earth and the heavens is that the same physical laws apply both here and elsewhere. And so far, this assumption has worked very well for us.
Of course, this isn't written in stone and future exploration may change or modify the assumption of physical laws applying in all places.
Here's the rest of this theological claim about the sciences:
If scientific experiments produce contradictory evidence, scientists do not accept it, no matter, how many empirical tests may replicate it. The scientists' faith can be rightly called philosophical monotheism (even if they call themselves atheists).The idea that scientists routinely reject evidence just because it contradicts existing theories is an astounding claim that borders on the outrageous. I would like some well-documented examples to back up this claim.
I'm not working as a scientist in my job today, but my college education was in the natural sciences (microbiology with a sprinkling of physics, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, and applied mathematics). And my 1977-1981 education is a bit rusty.
Based on what I remember about the history and philosophy of the sciences, this is a very inaccurate depiction of how the sciences works.
It may be painfully slow to watch new results move from new and untested to established science but that's a safeguard to keep us from deceiving ourselves.
Remember that we are talking about a human-run enterprise and there are very human imperfections in how we do science.
A good example of the human imperfections affecting the work of science was difference in the acceptance of the results of the 1944 "Avery-MacLeod-McCarty" experiments and the 1952 "Hershey-Chase" experiments.
Both experiments were used to demonstrate that genetic information was contained in DNA and not proteins. The Avery-MacLeod-McCarty experiments were chemically much more "rigorous" than the Hershey-Chase experiments but the social climate among biologists in the 1940s was less accepting of the idea that DNA contained genetic information and was anything other than a dull and boring polymer.
Hershey and Chase built on Avery's work and their experiment was more "convincing" because the scientific audience was ready for the results. There was also the comfortable familiarity that the early molecular biologists had with the E. coli - T-2 bacteriophage virus experimental model that Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase used.
However, there are examples of rigorous experiments that changed how we view the world and how observations can change previously held ideas about creation:
- Luria-Delbrück experiment (established that variation -- the raw material in natural selection -- arises through a random undirected process)
- Michelson-Morley experiments ("the most famous failed experiment" -- this experiment helped disproved the theory that light required an invisible "luminiferous aether" to move across a vacuum and led to Einstein's theory of special relativity)
- Evelyn Hooker's research (she establishing that homosexuals were as mentally healthy as heterosexuals -- her work led to changes in social attitudes and the eventual decision that homosexuality is not a mental illness)
- Falsifiability -- Can a scientific claim tested and proven, in principle, false?
- Reproducibility -- Can the results be verified independently? For historical sciences like paleontology and astronomy, are other researchers allowed access to the observations (e.g. fossils, raw astronomical data, etc)?
Keep in mind that many of the "new atheist" writers like Daniel Dennett who are approaching religion with the same methodology that has been proven successful in the sciences are not trying to be jerks who want to piss off religious people.
It's just that the tools of science have been very useful for learning more about creation (and religions certainly are a part of creation).
And who would be against exploring the idea that religions are at least partially natural phenomena?