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Letter to the editor: Scientific process doesn’t include a “dogma”
Published 4/11/2013 6:00:00 AM
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Ms. Chan's recent opinion piece, "Respect religion’s role in a secular society," provides a heartfelt defense of spirituality's place in the lives of university students who happen to be believers. I appreciate her perspective, and I echo her call for respecting diversity.

However, her use of the phrase "scientific dogma" in comparison to "religious values" struck me as strange. Although I suppose the term "dogma" can be used to refer to any stubbornly held tenet or principle, it is more commonly used in reference to the official (and often unquestionable) core doctrines of a religion, of all things.

Knowledge provided by scientific research is the opposite of dogma precisely because its acceptance is not based on faith or authority. To the contrary, it is continuously questioned, evaluated, and modified through the rigorous process of testing predictions against observations of the empirical world—that is, data. In fact, scientists routinely deal with working hypotheses, or provisional explanations, which are either improved or rejected as we recursively test the validity of our ideas against ever-growing datasets. Now, that doesn't sound dogmatic to me; it sounds liberating.

Luke Premo
Assistant Professor

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