Religion and reason

More listening to Radio 4.  Mark Tully’s Something Understood.  Keith Ward:  ‘reason is a methodology’; ‘there is irrational science, that is bad science when you don’t do your experiments properly…there is irrational religion… but there’s rational science, when you use the methods of science properly.’  For him, these methods are empirical investigation and mathematical expertise.  There are rational methods in religion, too, ‘asking deep philosophical questions about the nature of mind…, whether values are objective or whether we just make them up…’, ‘I’m amazed when people say that only science is rational, because what about historians…?’

Well, now.  Leaving aside the statement about reason as a methodology…  First, science is not just maths, although maths is a science.  The definition of science is much broader; its essence is empirical observation, collection and analysis of data and circumstances, the formulation and testing – and discarding when necessary – of hypotheses.  Science also explains how things work and how we are where we are.

By these criteria, history is a science.  Philosophy is a pseudo-science.  Religion is not a science.


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