Often the terms ‘objective’, ‘factual’, and synonyms of these, are used to describe science, or are at least, connotations of ‘science’. Yet, if we look at the history of science, what is considered as scientific truth and facts of life at a certain point are sometimes debunked later on. As Professor Cohen stated, the concept and standards of science are moving. Why is it then science is described as factual and objective, words that denote consistency and certainty?
A scientific theory is only accepted when other intellectuals agree with it given the evidence. This I believe, is the most imperative difference between science and the arts. Art can still be art even without the approval of other artists, but science cannot be science without thorough review and acceptance of many other scientists and intellectuals. The concept of art and what qualifies as art are personal perspectives, and therefore, art is subjective. Whereas, with the combination of experiments, evidence, and peer reviews, a scientific theory is as objective as any other fact can be, even though there is always the possibility for it to be proven wrong in the future. The moving nature of science may mean that no theory can be proven to be absolutely correct, but for now, however, there is also no reason or evidence to prove that the theory is not correct.
What the scientific revolution taught us was the incapability to say with absolute certainty what is true. We should always leave a space in the back of our minds that is open to the prospect that the rules and theories of the world we know may not be entirely correct. This idea was drilled into me in high school chemistry when my teacher would emphasize the difference between a scientific theory and a scientific law. A theory being a concept that we consider as truth given the evidence, but also recognize that there is no absolute certainty in it. On the other hand, a law is a constant statement of truth that is the foundation of theories. I remember this being the first time I was told to doubt, only in the very slightest bit, but still doubt the theories I considered to be absolute truth, such as evolution by natural selection or that all living things are made of cells. Before the scientific revolution, the distinction between scientific theories and scientific laws did not exist, which was why scientists struggled to present new ideas and why when those theories were shared, it changed the way humans looked at science. This brings me to the question of now knowing that nothing is absolutely certain, is it possible to have another scientific revolution like the one in the 16th-17th Century, or would sudden and extreme change in ‘truth’ still be met with the same level of denial, anger, and debate?