According to the philosopher Karl Popper, if a theory isn't exposed to being proved wrong by observations, then it is a not a scientific theory. Showing a theory to be wrong by new observation is called falsification.
The results of scientific investigations are published, so that others can review them. In effect, ideas are put on a public pedestal with an invitation to knock them down through further research. Those ideas that survive this process of testing by observations and experiments are treated as the best currently available. Only the very best ideas can survive such onslaughts.
Thus scientific theory sets itself up to be constantly updated by new observations, and tested through falsification. This is what makes scientific knowledge different from other forms of knowledge . It is something that makes science different from religion.
Scientific knowledge is:
- often uncertain,
- open to constant revision,
- based on observation and evidence
- never fixed
Religious knowledge is:
- based upon the interpretation of writings that have been found valuable by large numbers of people over many centuries
- often considered certain and unchanging
- looking for permanent ‘truths’
But science and religion do not necessarily have to disagree. Science provides rigorous, tested knowledge about observable nature. It does not deal with questions about what may exist but is not in any way observable. Many scientists are Christians, Muslims and other faiths. Some are atheists, and don't believe that there is any kind of God outside of the Nature that we can observe. Others are agnostic, and say that they do not know whether or not there is a God.