Science and scientism are radically different things despite the similarity in their names. Science is a methodology for studying the natural world and how it works. Scientism on the other hand is a philosophical and metaphysical perspective on science. There are three men ways of defining scientism.
- It can be seen as an excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and methodology.
- It sees science as the only objective way of determining truth.
- It includes the unwarranted application of science to areas that do not lend themselves to scientific inquiry.
At its core scientism extends from the philosophy of absolute naturalism, where God or anything else beyond nature is excluded as even a possibility for consideration. Despite claims to the contrary by its adherents, scientism is essentially a religious devotion to science from an atheistic perspective and its absolute devotion to philosophical naturalism.
It is possible to make use of the scientific method while maintaining God as a viable explanation for observed phenomenon. It is also possible to formulate scientific theories that include God, but yet satisfies the scientific need for testability.
Unfortunately, the inherently atheistic philosophy of scientism is taught in many schools as the only acceptable philosophy of science. This is a primary reason why there seems to be a conflict between science and religion. That is ultimately establishment science leaves no place for God and excludes Him as even an allowable explanation for anything. This has become a dominant philosophy in science education such that most people who study science only get this philosophy and no other philosophy of science.
Whether or not they want to call scientism a religion is irrelevant, the fact is that it is their devotion that is religious in nature even if they reject the label of religion for scientism itself. One of the strong indications of the religious nature of scientism is the way its adherent react when you even questioned certain claims made under auspices science. Two of the long-standing examples being universal common descent evolution and man caused climate change. Regardless of your reasons for questioning these, a failure to blindly accept either one will get you labeled as as anti-science and or a science denier no matter how much actual science you present to make your case. To the adherence of scientism, science is not just the methodology of science, but specific claims made under its auspices that are simply not allowed to be questioned. They will also frequently claim that any opposition that you do make to these claims is based on an erroneous understanding of those theories. They will make this claim even when they cannot point out any way in which you are actually wrong.
The claim will often be made that this devotion is towards science not towards some religion, but it is possible to have a religious devotion something that is not inherently religious. Sports are a good example of this. Many sports fans have a religious quality to their devotion to those sports teams that they our fans of. It needs to be reminded here that the word “fan” is derived from the word “fanatic”. The point is that while science itself is not a religion, those whose worldview qualifies as scientism do indeed have a religious devotion not just to science, but to science under the presupposition of absolute naturalism.
One of the main problems with this view of science is that they see objectivity not as reproducibility but they see objectivity as being able to view the world from a perspective that does not involve us. This so-called objectivity also requires absolute naturalism, and thereby excluding God right from the start. This form of objectivity is actually impossible because we all have preconceptions. Sometimes those preconceptions are destroyed by evidence if we allow it to be, but those who claim objectivity the most show it the least in actual practice because they will never consider a different perspective from the one they already have on reality.