A scientific belief and a religious or philosophical belief are two quite different types of belief. The use of the same word – “belief” – to cover these two meanings can lead to confusion. And the significance in an employment law context is that religious and philosophical beliefs may be afforded some legal protection, but scientific beliefs are not.
A scientific belief is based upon a scientific method of enquiry, a rational process of inference and deduction based on evidence. The results of a scientific experiment should be the same whoever conducts the experiment (providing the same methodology is used). This test of experimental replicability is one of the key “proof” tests for scientific hypotheses. A religious or philosophical belief is a different kind of belief, based on faith which needs no proof. Indeed most core religious beliefs address topics in respect of which there can be no proof (in a scientific sense).
Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website : www.irenicon.co.uk. You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye and check our regular articles and news throughout the autumn on our blog site – https://irenicon.wordpress.com/