Some problems are difficult to solve. So many factors come into play, so many unknowns are…well…unknown. Private interests and preferences exert their influence. Entrenched social identities—class, race, gender, etc.—determine in advance which proposals get a hearing. Interminable arguments ensue with no obvious path to clarity and consensus in sight. Better to stay out of such quarrels.
However, some seemingly difficult problems have very simple solutions. And I want to deal today with one such a problem: Advocates of all sorts of causes claim that science is on their side. People on the other side are anti-scientific. They ignore the “facts,” and don’t follow the path charted by science. The solution to this problem is hiding in plain sight: in title of this essay. Science is not on anyone’s side! Because science has no conscience, no politics, no religion, no heart, and no soul. It supports no causes.
Allow me to use words I wrote a few years ago to explain why science doesn’t care about your causes—or mine:
Natural science seeks to make understandable the relationship of one set of empirical phenomena to another set of empirical phenomena by means of law-like generalization(s) or postulated causal relations or some other theoretical mediation. All of these mediating principles may be reduced to patterns of empirical phenomena. Or, if the theory refers to unobservable entities, these entities are still physical and manifest themselves in observable phenomena. This is the nature and the limit of natural science, whether physics, chemistry, biology, geology, or paleontology. Natural science studies the relationships within the created world among empirical phenomena, that is, the perceptions or sense data received through the five senses (The Faithful Creator, 2015).
Natural science does one thing. It describes and explains the empirical world in empirical terms. It speaks no other language and understands none. It adheres to no morality and supports none. It treasures no policy preferences and cares nothing for ours. It contemplates happiness or sadness, war or peace, and love or hate with equal indifference. Its methods and goals are the same whether studying the effects of poison or medicine. It can produce weapons of mass destruction or seek ways to feed the world’s hungry with equal efficiency. It doesn’t care. Science can count how many people die this year from infectious diseases and explain how, but it does not care in the least. It does matter to science how long you live, how happy you are, or how virtuous you become. Saint or devil, science makes no distinction. Why? Because it doesn’t care about anything! It can’t. Caring is not part of the scientific method. Its goal is to explain, not to heal or kill. comfort or torture.
So, get clear on this: whoever you are, whatever your cause, however passionate your devotion, science is not on your side. Because science doesn’t take sides! If you want to explain one set of empirical data with reference to another set of empirical date, science can help. But if you have a moral, political, religious, or esthetic question, don’t look to science for answers. It would be like asking a freeway sign whether you ought to vacation in Los Angeles or Miami. It won’t work, because…
Like freeway signs, science has no conscience, no politics, no religion, no heart, and no soul!