People at shows have said this to me: “Don’t put your faith in science” or “Science is just your religion” or similar such nonsense. The idea that science is it’s own field or subject is actually a little false. Science is simply the pursuit of knowledge. Science is the process of finding (good) explanations for our world. A good explanation can’t be varied very much (I first heard this idea from physicist David Deutsch). Even though religion finds explanations for the world, they can be varied immensely and have the same explanatory power. Johannes Kepler, who discovered that planets have elliptical orbits, discovered mathematical laws governing those ellipses. If you wanted to predict the location of Mars, and you varied an equation by the smallest fraction, your prediction would quickly become inaccurate. Kepler created a good explanation.
The Japanese Shinto creation myth says that Izanagi-no-Mikoto (male) and Izanami-no-Mikoto (female) were given a spear with which they stirred the water, and when removed water dripped from the end, Japan was created in the great nothingness. Although the myth is beautiful, if taken as fact (as it surely was), it’s a bad explanation. If you varied this explanation, even a lot, it would have the same explanatory power. What if they had used a giant pair of chopsticks to stir the water instead? What if they had used humongous straws to lower the water level and expose Japan? What if, instead of people, it was monkeys who had done the stirring? None of these changes would hurt the explanatory power of the myth. It still teaches us nothing about how islands form, why they disappear, how long they have been there, when the first people got there, etc. Science – and only science – can do, and has done, those things.
Science (or, the human creative understanding of reality) has done the following:
Allowed us to fly through the sky like a bird. Given us the power of near-instant communication with anyone on earth. Shown us how to boil water to kill pathogens. Allowed us to understand genes and evolution. Cured the near-blind with contact lenses and laser surgery. Shown us close-up footage of the ravaging storms of Jupiter. Given us literally every object made with metal. Cured and destroyed uncountable deadly diseases. Given us control of warm fire. Let us understand and even touch the moon. Allowed us to make and transport food to sustain literally billions of people. Given us electricity, and artificial light. Given us music recordings. Cartoons. Cars. Roller Coasters. Skyscrapers. Boats. Aquariums. Advil. Video Games. Maps. Refrigerators. Hot tubs. Ice machines.
So that’s why I put my “faith” in science. It’s responsible for literally every inch of progress our species has ever made. And I’m not even exaggerating.