Do you think you are a scientist?

Do you still believe or do you know? - Faith in the sciences

With this (unfortunately polemical) motto the contrast between science and religion is sometimes commented on today. Thinking is presented as a rational counterpart to "irrational" belief. Even if science tried in its origins to overcome medieval thinking, which was based heavily on belief, the now divided sciences are by no means devoid of belief. What is more, the sciences are also a belief system - just different from the religions.

The Renaissance tried to free the faith from the fetters of revelation. Descartes and the rationalism then separated thinking (res cogitans - the thinking thing) from matter (res extensa - the extended thing). This split the sciences into the humanities and natural sciences. The empiricism focused on what can be grasped by the senses and has pushed the spiritual aspect aside. Later it didn't fit the mindset at all and had to be "eliminated". After all, what relevance do measurement data have if they can be changed at any time by a spiritual entity, be it God or a spirit?

This separation of the spiritual did not come about from a scientific knowledge, but from a simple assumption.

Belief in the existence of the divine was gradually replaced by belief in the non-existence of the divine.

It should be noted here that both positions are justified, as neither has unquestionable evidence of their validity. But on the other hand, no position has indubitable proof of the invalidity of the opposing position.

Our senses, even when supplemented by scientific instruments, can not only deceive us, but are in principle limited. What is "seen" or measured is often not immediately apparent. You have to "explain" it and bring it into line with other measurement results. One tries to explain the phenomena "perceived" through the senses and measuring instruments through hypotheses.

The term "hypothesis"Comes from ancient Greek and means something like" subordination ". A hypothesis is a statement whose validity is believed to be possible, but which has not been proven or verified. This "To consider something possible“Is thus a kind of Belief in the correctness of the hypotheses.

Who believes here?

First of all, it should be those scientists who put forward the hypothesis. On the other hand, it is precisely the scientists who formulate a hypothesis that are aware of the relativity, the possibility of error and the provisional nature of the statements made in the hypothesis. So it is not so certain whether the scientist formulating the hypothesis believes in his hypothesis.

Reading scientific articles does not create “knowledge”, but above all “opinion”.

Now when a hypothesis is published, it becomes available to the readers. However, they are no longer familiar with the experimental set-up, the implementation of the measurement and certainly no longer with the various measurement results. Each publication is a strong summary and simplification of all the circumstances and results found in the research. The reader can no longer judge the validity of the statement and can only believe or doubt it. But there is also the doubt some kind of belief, because the reader largely lacks the opportunity to check the accuracy or the falseness of the statements made in the publication.

What arises here is not “knowledge” in the philosophical sense, but “opinion” - approving or disapproving. Opinions can be right or wrong, but there is no certainty. And so a large part of the thinking of scientists is more of an opinion or a belief.

Anyone who assumes that what scientists think is correct in the textbooks is wrong. There is no institution in the sciences that can confirm the correctness of a scientific theory. “Right” is what the majority thinks is “right”, that is, what it believes. Are you on the right side with that? Very often not, because scientific progress does not happen democratically.

The big ones Paradigm shift are made by scientists whose views do not adhere to established theories. In the sciences, progress results precisely from overcoming prevailing opinions.

Normally, scientific statements in school books are considered to be so well-founded that a precise examination does not seem necessary. This is reinforced by the fact that with many statements it is very difficult or even impossible to do your own investigation with which one could check the statements presented in the textbook.

Around the time of Einstein, or very much through him, a constructivist tendency began to establish itself in the sciences. This was expressed in the fact that hypotheses, i.e. scientific assumptions, were formulated increasingly more freely. This may have to do with the emergence of an immense physical interest. As a result, professorships for "Theoretical physics" set up. These did not have a laboratory and the “theoretical” physicists had hardly any opportunity to check scientific hypotheses themselves.

In order to become known as a theoretical physicist, the hypotheses put forward had to attract attention, i.e. offer unconventional solutions. If no experimental physicist, that is, a physicist with his own laboratory, set about checking the hypotheses that had been made, then these would remain unproven, but also undisputed.

When unproven hypotheses build on other unproven hypotheses, scientific houses of cards emerge.

The problem is the abundance of hypotheses that have not yet been proven. Hypothetical, that is, unproven "allegations" often exist that can hardly be distinguished from well-documented statements.

When a scientist wants to formulate and justify a hypothesis - his own - he usually looks for other scientific statements that could support his hypotheses. It is often not transparent to him how well the other hypotheses used to confirm his own hypothesis are also proven.

A scientist, whose hypothesis will now be named and discussed, will now help to maintain this interest and in turn support his colleagues. In this way, many largely unproven hypotheses can be made quite extensive Theory building which, however, have one major disadvantage: Although they “look” comprehensively, the degree of their proof has now practically dropped to zero. Such theories are products of the imagination that form religious communities within the sciences - one speaks of Paradigms or doctrinal opinions - lead.