I was once talking with a United States Marine and the topic of the Navy came up. “They’re good for a ride,” he said. I assume that this remark was an aspect of inter-service rivalry, but it stuck with me. Science is, in the same manner, “good for a ride.” It helped develop combustion engines, microwave ovens and word processing software.

But does science make you happy? Some people may not admit it, but everyone wants to be happy; it’s pretty much built into the definition of happiness: the state in which everyone wants to be. Different things make different people happy, but if you say you don’t want to be happy then all that you are saying is that being sad makes you happy.

Just like people say “money can’t buy happiness,” I’m proposing that science can’t either, at least not the higher levels as proposed by Maslow’s hierarchy. If the universe is “everything that is, was, or will be” (Carl Sagan, quoted in Berlinski), and if the universe is a “causal system,” then the ontological baseline of science is that everything is everything and effects have causes. As Berlinski points out: “This is not a thesis calculated to send the blood racing.”

Of course, science has definitely contributed to the fulfillment of the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy (food, warmth, shelter, etc.), for which we should all be grateful. This has, then, given us a ladder to climb toward the higher needs.

People will say that there is no evidence for faith. But, I wonder, isn’t evidence based on experience? Of the happy people I know, pretty much all of them are religious. Doesn’t this count as evidence[1]?

The reason that people of faith are happy is because they have realized that science is useful, but it doesn’t explain the biggest questions: those things that people actually care about the most. As such, science is “good for a ride” but that’s about it.

[1] One might argue that this is anecdotal evidence. But the phrase “anecdotal” just means “based on someone’s experience.” Don’t you make decisions based on your experience every day?

 U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac [Public domain]