The Sept. 3 news article “Study: Some science findings can’t be replicated” came as no great surprise. Indeed, one wonders why a “study” was necessary to reach this conclusion; scientists, being human, are flawed, so sometimes their studies will be. On the other hand, imagining as I did that the “science” referred to was hard science — physics, chemistry, biology — it was disturbing to see the percentages of such unreplicable findings reported. But an example of such a study was given: whether gazing at “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin would make people less religious. If such are the studies in question, then there is a prior issue as to whether this is science at all. Of course, “science” is a term of art. England’s first printer, William Caxton, in the 15th century published a statement to the effect that theology is the queen of the sciences. Would anyone today call theology a science?
No one with even a basic awareness of what it means to be “religious” would consider the Rodin “experiment” science in the same sense that physics is science. If findings in a physics experiment cannot be replicated, a Boeing 787 will crash. The physical world, by hypothesis, is at issue. The inner world of the human soul lies beyond the reach of anything that can be called science, notwithstanding the thousands of experiments to discover which neurons are activated when one is praying, etc. The brain is the instrument, indeed; it is not the immaterial soul.
Jonathan Chaves, Washington