Is it science? or religion?

In a book published this year, the philosopher Evan Thompson says, “When science steps back from experimentation in order to give meaning to its results in terms of grand stories about where we come from and where we’re going — the narratives of cosmology and evolution — it cannot help but become a mythic form of meaning-making and typically takes the structures of its narratives from religion.” — Why I Am Not a Buddhist, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 2020), p. 18.

What Thompson says is akin to what Hannes Alfvén said back in 1984, in his paper “Cosmology: Myth or Science?” Alfvén argued that “there has been — and will perhaps always be — an oscillation between mythological and scientific approaches.” He further documented what he felt was a mythical orientation in the cosmology of 1984: “In a true dialectic sense it is the triumph of science which has released the forces which now once again seem to make myths more powerful than science and causes a ‘scientific creationism’ inside academia itself.”

And these days, I’ve heard apparently well-educated people saying things like, “I don’t believe in religion, I believe in science” — thus ignoring or passing over the fact that scientific models are not matters for belief, they are intended to be checked against empirical evidence through multiple investigations, and they are subject to a constant revision that is not compatible with what is generally meant by “belief.” I don’t think it’s a good idea to turn science into a religion, and it would be better to find one’s mythic meaning-making elsewhere, maybe in poetry or music or paintings or novels or even religion.