Faith and Truth in Science

These two articles are a pretty interesting juxtaposition. The first, from Slate, takes on the argument that faith is compatible with science:

The conflation of faith as “unevidenced belief” with faith as “justified confidence” is simply a word trick used to buttress religion. In fact, you’ll never hear a scientist saying, “I have faith in evolution” or “I have faith in electrons.” Not only is such language alien to us, but we know full well how those words can be misused in the name of religion.

 It mainly argues on semantic grounds, that the way science uses faith is different from the faith of religion. It’s an argument that should be made, since from my perspective, they address different questions, and attempts to make religion answer questions of “what is” is foolhardy.
But, I do think Coyne glosses over some sticky questions when he says this:
The constant scrutiny of our peers ensures that science is largely self-correcting, so that we really can approach the truth about our universe.
It’s an open question whether science is actually truth seeking or not (second link):
But it is important to guard against the notion, so often merely assumed by working scientists but occasionally trumpeted affirmatively by certain mouthpieces thereof, that the instrumental effectiveness of particular sciences provides prima facie proof that their underlying theories correctly describe the underlying reality of the world they purport to.
Whether science is or isn’t approaching the truth about our universe is an open question. For science to describe the nature of the universe truthfully, it would have to answer questions that are taken for granted in the course of normal scientific work.
But science is not immune to the challenges of representation and interpretation which all human attempts to discover and describe the nature of reality are subject to. Science cannot finesse the influences and distortions which its practice by real human beings in real social contexts impose on it. Science cannot evade the problems of justification raised by choices driven more by aesthetics and intellectual convenience—like the preference for theories which are beautiful or which satisfy Occam’s Razor—rather than any a priori necessity. Science possesses no special defenses against the radical skepticism which calls into question our very relation to the world and each other. Science, in other words, does not hold a privileged position outside the core intellectual puzzles of human cognition and relation to reality.
All of this isn’t to say that science isn’t useful, or unsuccessful. So much of what we can do today is because of science.
But there’s a leap of faith that takes place when you say science describes the truth about the universe.

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