I have been thinking more and more about the organization of scientific thought and activity and how that relates/compares to religious organization.

Modern science has advanced to the point where important work can be difficult to impossible for a layman (or even another scientist outside of the field) to understand. I give my own views on Evolution as an example. I have a rough idea of what evolution is and how it works, but I am not a biologist and evolution has no real bearing on my life. It is quite arcane to me, but if someone says to me that evolution as it is understood by scientists is wrong my first reaction defensive. I would defend evolution from its detractors because I trust the scientists who study and employ it in their work, even though the fact remains such work is removed completely from my experience.

I take it as an article of faith that the scientists are 1.) correct and 2.) not lying to me.

So in this sense is science not like a priesthood where the essence of understanding is held above and out of reach of the general population, as in some religious organizations?

I hear Rupert Sheldrake speak of the materialist assumption that matter cannot be conscious, a view that has pervaded science to the present day. He calls it a superstition because no one in main stream science takes the question seriously enough to inquire. But science is inquiry. Science is good because it is honest enough to say, “this is the best we understand things so far.” And consciousness has been little well understood in the lab.

Sometimes I think that the Creationist side of that debate is defended by people who view science as “something you believe in or not,” like God or Socialism. In science the truths are held in a system of ivory towers, in religion the truth is held in the Godhead. Not all that dissimilar if you ask me.