Are Scientists Always Dispassionate Searchers for Truth?
Can scientists be trusted to provide bias-free statements, especially when it comes to the implications of science on religion?
In many ways, scientists are dispassionate and objective in their search for truth. The process of peer-review and critical inquiry makes the scientific method an excellent tool for discovering the nature of reality. However, this view of science can be naive if it does not also take into consideration that scientists are human and can be impacted by the larger social and philosophical trends around them. At least three examples of this can be provided. First, German scientists living in the early 20th century rejected the work of Jewish scientists, including Albert Einstein, because of the antisemitism around them. Second, the acceptance of gene theory was blocked in the early Soviet Union because it was perceived to be incompatible with Marxist philosophy. Third, the eminent physicist, Steven Weinberg, argues that the philosophy of positivism had a negative influence on the development of physics in the early 20th century.
Such instances should make one wary about naively accepting anything and everything that scientists proclaim, especially when it comes to an issue as contentious as religion. One possible source of bias in the present time may stem from the view that science and religion have, historically speaking, been predominately at war with each other. Although this view has been rejected by historians of science for decades, it continues to live on in the minds of many people, including those within the scientific community.
Of course, the various philosophical and cultural influences will (probably) eventually be corrected for. However, one can never be sure whether these corrections have yet to occur. Hence, a wise person will use discernment when he hears scientists make proclamations concerning religious issues.