For a little light reading today (I'm being ironic) I picked up my copy of physicist David Deutsch's "The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes -- and Its Implications."
Thumbing though a chapter I'd already read, The Nature of Mathematics, I came to this passage. It made me wish that religions, mystical paths, and other varieties of supernaturalism were as wise as science.
Mathematicians are rather proud of this absolute certainty [that mathematical proofs are true], and scientists tend to be a little envious of it.
For in science there is no way of being certain of any proposition.
However well one's theories explain existing observations, at any moment someone may make a new, inexplicable observation that casts doubt on the whole of the current explanatory structure.
Worse, someone may reach a better understanding that explains not only all existing observations but also why the previous explanations seemed to work but are nevertheless quite wrong.
Galileo, for instance, found a new explanation of the age-old observation that the ground beneath our feet is at rest, an explanation that involved the ground actually moving.
Virtual reality -- which can make one environment seem to be another -- underlines the fact that when observation is the ultimate arbiter between theories, there can never be any certainty that an existing explanation, however obvious, is even remotely true.
It isn't difficult to think, "I don't know for sure." Religious believers should give that thought a try, rather than considering that 100% confidence in a faith is the only way to go.
Since religions believe in dogmas that often contradict each other, clearly not all religions can be true. (Of course, my position is that none of them are true.) So it makes sense for followers of a religion to entertain the possibility that what they believe could be untrue.
Science makes progress by embracing challenges to current ways of looking at the cosmos. Unfortunately, religions are locked into rigid belief systems that make it impossible for them to come steadily closer to truth like science is able to do.
That's why I love science and reject religion.