..finding faith in science

[The Leaven –  exploring the relationship between science and religion (cont)]

In both science and religion accuracy in recording information requires a certain amount of faith, especially when confronted by uncertainty. Take climate change, for instance, none of us, as individuals, can measure with any certainty that the Earth is gradually warming and that this is the consequence of carbon rich gases. Yet many of us believe that this is the case through watching or reading media reports, most of which may or may not be based on legitimate scientific findings. As a consequence of these reports, we are also assuming that all change created by a shift in climate will result in global catastrophe even if this is not the case. There is a widely accepted view that anthropogenic change will have a negative effect on the balance of natural resources.

We can only assume that climate change is caused through the accumulation of carbon-based emissions because a fairly limited amount of research has drawn up this conclusion. However, consider if climate change was caused by some other factor besides carbon emissions. Suppose climate change is a consequence of the Earths gradual movement closer to the Sun or by the Earths core becoming inexplicably hotter or by  hostile aliens beaming powerful rays through the stratosphere. These causes are far more difficult to comprehend and completely beyond our control. So within reason the preferred scenario is that human activity is causing climate change and that we have the ability to control this, to some extent, by restricting carbon emissions.

In reality, carbon emissions are a by-product of energy production therefore the heat created through energy production could be contributing to climate change. Furthermore, by comparing our present use of heat emitting energy to that of a few decades ago this seems to be a reasonable assumption. If this were the case, reducing carbon emissions would have little effect. Solar power, wind power and atomic energy would all be useless in reducing climate change, as only the reduction of energy generation would have any impact. So several factors could be contributing to climate change but all of these factors are based on data presented to us by relatively small groups of scientists working in specialised areas.

Many aspects of science and religion, therefore, are based on assumptions that require an element of faith. To this end we rely heavily on the investigation and integrity of others to provide answers and solutions.