This common religious claim usually goes along the lines of: ‘Science is no more than a shifty man made idea. As such, it is subject to all the flaws and rewritings that can be expected from such manufactured things’.
There are three general things to be said here:
- Science is not supposed to be an unchangeable doctrine, it is a method of figuring out what is objectively going on.
- If the scientific method is applied properly, change is not just inevitable, it is desirable. Change is part of the idea in the first place, and we commonly call this change, progress.
- Just for comparison, can you think of a single religion that has never changed along the years?
Though it might seem like the third statement dodges the issue, it in fact makes a very important point. The fact that many religious apologists try to accuse science of changing – as if change is a bad thing – tells you everything you need to know about the religious desire to stultify progress and wallow in the warm comforts of tradition. Perhaps the most ironic part of all this is that the very organizations that babble most about the need to stick to ancient tradition are the ones which have most consistently and dramatically changed over the years. If you want to look for the most relativistic and shifty organizations, look for the ones that keep screaming about everyone else changing around them.
It is one of the most potent ironies of history that change is the only constant there is. And this might help explain why it is that some of the most dramatically illogical changes have come from the very same organizations that try as hard as they can to fight against it.
Consider the fact that biblical law itself was a revolutionary change. Next, consider how biblical law, starting in a small tribal neighborhood of the Bronze Aged Middle East, kept continuously changing and evolving, through the Iron Age mutations of Christianity and Islam, European Dark Ages, Muslim and Asian golden ages, the middle ages, the renaissance, the enlightenment, and the various changes and mutations that are going on even today.
The catholic church, having existed for so long, provides a prime example of this type of religious change and relativism. Consider the shrieking horror show that was the Inquisition – torturing and sadistically slow roasting thousands of people while they were still alive. As you try to wrap your head around the genocidal magnitude of the Catholic church’s history, consider the fact that today the Catholic church opposes almost all executions. It is quite needless to say that this current opposition to execution is a positive development, but let us not accept any of the church’s patronizing babble about being a rock of stability and tradition in the middle of a sinful world of relativism. The Catholic church is a prime example of how religious organizations “apologize” for their past and then self contradict their apologies by pretends that no change has actually been undergone – in which case there would have been nothing to apologize for in the first place. And after centuries of continuous change, to still claim to be stable, while accusing the scientific process – the process that brought us out of the religious clutches of the Dark Ages – of being shifty, is beyond laughable.
The biggest advantages of the scientific process is that no claims of infallibility are made in the first place, doubt and skepticism are viewed as imperatives and claims are tested and anchored to reason and evidence. This process ensures that positive change will continuously take place. And so it has been for centuries.
I fail to see why people who live in such frail glass houses would want to launch such large and heavy stones, much less if all the other houses around them are equipped with scientifically developed bulletproof glass.
The next time you are accused of allying yourself with a shifty man made idea like science, take it as a compliment, especially since the odds are that your traditionalist counterpart is ironically using a modern computer to deliver these criticisms. Then kindly ask your counterpart if he/she can think of a single useful religious discovery or practical religious change that can hold a candle to any of the scientific changes like,say, modern computers.