We can observe science in motion when a flat sheet of aluminum is molded in a such a way where the top is somewhat convex and the bottom somewhat concave the structure (a wing) creates aerodynamic lift. What causes the lift? We can hypothesize that the shape causes air to move faster over the top of the aluminum fold, thus causing the air pressure to decrease so that the pressure on top of the wing is less than the pressure on the bottom folds. The difference in pressure creates a force that lifts the wing in the air. With our hypothesis in hand, we can then test it with repeated observations. We find time and again that the design indeed creates lift. Our confidence builds in the predictive power of our hypothesis. We have no need to believe. We know with a high degree of statistical probability that our design will create aerodynamic lift. If we are so inclined, we move forward and build airplanes.
The scientific method is rigorous and exacting. Feelings, beliefs, biases, motives, egos are set aside when properly pursued. Science is thoroughly empirical. Science can extract data only from things that have already happened. The honest scientist is indifferent to affirmation or falsification. If the results demonstrate that the hypothesis is incorrect, then the scientific method loops back on itself and the hypothesis is challenged, refined, modified, or discarded.
No one disputes that aluminum molded in a particular convex/concave shape will create lift. If the science ever appeared settled, it would appear settled to the wing and its ability to aerodynamic create. Politically charged donnybrooks rarely erupt when a conversation broaches the subject of aerodynamic lift. So, the science on this matter appears settled, except it is not. No one can declare with certainty what generates the aerodynamic force known as lift. Competing theories abound (see Bernoulli, Newton, Einstein, and Navier-Stokes). Scientists will give different answers to the question, some even with “religious fervor.”
Therefore, it is antiscience to declare that the science is settled. No function of the scientific method can substantiate the claim. Because the scientific method is based on data gleaned from empirical observations related to a hypothesis, it relies on our senses and our interpretation of our experiences. Our senses and interpretations are imperfect. Our observing itself even raises issues. A watched atom is, after all, an insincere atom.
Science can attempt to explain, but it can never properly predict the future. It can only model what has happened and reasonably project what could happen. All science hangs on statistical probability. Because we are continuously probing and exploring the physical world, we are sure to accumulate enough new data to impugn, if not falsify, an established scientific conclusion. Therefore, to say "the science is settled" is not only antiscience it is antithetical to the principles and practices of the scientific method.
Science is amoral. It can generate only positive statements. A piece of a aluminum folded in such a way will generate aerodynamic lift. The science does not go on to say "thus build airplanes." Science is unable to discern what is the choice of highest value, because individuals possess differing value systems. What we do with the evidence the scientific method reveals depends on the goals we desire. Science can never tell us what is good, bad, better, or worse. Science is never able to say “should” or “must.” Ultimate ends can never be determined by scientific inquiry.
Too many agenda-driven individual are facile about employing the positive (science) to implement the normative (an agenda). We see the tactic most readily employed with climate change. The climate is warming, so the scientifically derived data show, thus we must abandon carbon-based fuels so goes the normative prescription. (It is, ironically, in matters where the science is far from settled that it is used to implore for the normative.)
When science is spliced to values and morality, it loses its scientific character and assumes that of a religion. The morality frequently manifests in legislation. We have a problem: The only way science can be employed to draft legislation is if for some person (or persons) to draw moral conclusions based on scientific discovery.: Morality is not of this physical world, morality is gleaned from the unobservable, unmeasurable spiritual world. For this reason, science should never be used to justify legislation.
The results of any scientific study require interpretation and any interpretation is necessarily subjective. To be sure, the data gathered through the scientific method and the interpretation of that data can go on to form value judgments and moral codes. But if science moves into a space where its conclusions can never be challenged and it also determines morality, the foundation for tyranny is set. For when conveniently wedded to power, the sanctified, and thus immutable, scientific data can produce disastrous results (see the eugenics movement of the progressive era and Germany circa 1940). The more science is employed to support normative agendas, the more dangerous its potential to restrict choice, destroy human liberty, and promote tyranny.