What is science, beyond simple claims to knowledge? I propose that it is much, much more than merely a body of knowledge, or a petty collection of doctrines demanding faith in their truth.
Let’s not confuse science itself with often badly done and inaccurate science journalism. Nor should we confuse science with the mistaken strawpersons erected by advocates of politics, ideology, or religion.
Science is a way of knowing, a process of thinking incorporating empirical testing of ideas against the real world. At its best, it is open to critique, transparent in its methods, and is perhaps the best bet we have for understanding the natural world and those entities and forces within it.
Through science we can be informed not only on the natural world, but of the nature of human beings as well. Science cannot dictate policy. Science cannot tell us right from wrong. Science cannot determine what we ought to feel is beautiful or horrific. It cannot tell us what direction to steer our creativity in.
But it can give us a better picture on all of those things. If nothing else, though it is no magic wand that will solve all of our problems, it can, almost certainly, inform and clarify matters, and that’s a first step to answering questions, and solving problems.
To me, science is one of the best ideas our species has ever developed, and currently our most powerful and effective way of knowing about the world within our bodies and the external universe.
Are there others? Maybe. Perhaps somewhere there are, but none currently known that equal or exceed science in that regard. If there were such a method exceeding even the power of science, I would most certainly switch my advocacy to that.
But to work, knowing must have a method, and apart from generalized philosophy’s powerful logical methods for deep grokking of the conceptual world, I can detect no such way. None has ever been presented for exploring the deep spaces of the Cosmos, or what resides among and within us on our tiny worldlet.
So, science it is, and the critical thinking that goes best with it.