That is how the scientific process works....
The distinction between science and religion occurs because not everything can be science. I can say anything I want. I could say that there is a flying teapot that orbits jupiter, and it's so small it cannot be seen. Science doesn't say that it's wrong or right, it just demands proof for me to back up my views.
Indeed. But there's no need to resort to a distinction between science and religion, or between fact and flying teapots, to make the point. Furthermore, the line between "fact" and "faith," or more to the point here, between "scientific fact" and "faith," cannot always be so sharp if
(and the "if" is important here philosophically) the field of human knowledge is unified.
Consider a random example. I pick it only because I happen to remember where I read it, and because it is within reach. In his delightful (but aging) book titled Black Holes and Warped Spacetime
, William J. Kaufmann III makes the following observation in the chapter "The Meaning of Warped Spacetime" (p 66 of the 1979 edition):
To some people, these astronomical discoveries are depressing. To them, the lesson of modern astronomy is that humanity is a collection of insignificant microbes clinging to a small rock that orbits an ordinary star in an otherwise inconsequential galaxy -- just one among billions in an inconceivably vast universe.
Since we're always to be interested in a charitable reading of an interlocutor, let's allow the author the liberty of hyperbole as he makes his observation. Let's also take the liberty of stipulating the factual truth of his observation, since I can see no reason to quarrel with it.
Dr. Kaufmann responds to that pessimistic view in the next paragraph (I'm going to include the first sentence of the following paragraph as well):
I prefer a different view. With each new revelation, the human mind must scale new heights and explore new dimensions. Of course, from a purely mechanical aspect, we are a race of Lilliputian life forms, poised precariously in the biosphere surrounding a very small planet. But through the human intellect, we tiny creatures have the extraordinary ability to examine and comprehend the structure of the universe. This truly distinguishes us form less-evolved animals. Not how insignificant our bodies are, but rather how potent the human mind is -- this is the real lesson of modern astronomy.
A philosophical perspective based on the physical nature of reality can induce profound insights that blossom with awesome power....
All well and good. And obviously not science. If the lesson of modern astronomy can be inspiring, philosophically or otherwise, it isn't compellingly or necessarily so to all people. As such, by any ordinary measure, Dr. Kaufmann has elaborated a statement of personal faith. To those embracing the epistemology of a unified field of knowledge, Dr. Kaufmann did his readers a huge service by elaborating on faith and fact in his book. He could hardly have done otherwise and allow much insight into his view of the meaning of warped spacetime.
Angry unicorns and flying teapots have their place in the discussion to be sure, but they're less interesting to me than coming to grips with Dr. Kaufmann's position in a fair and charitable way. He's speaking properly and within the realm of his subject, and not just saying anything.
We should talk less, and say more.