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Secular theocracy

“This is confusing – and that’s the point. Science, of its nature, is always confusing. Medicine is uncertain. But public-policy formation in the U.S., especially as concerns health policy or the environment, whether obesity or the melting of the polar ice caps, admits to very little confusion. We claim to know. But in fact we usually don’t know.”

– Daniel Henninger, “From Spin City to Fat City,” May 6, 2005, Wall Street Journal

Recently, a reader sent me a long letter titled, “Biblical truths vs. Scientific Facts.” It opened with the premise that, “The teachings of science always seem to contradict the myths in the Bible.” The writer then cited the scientific views regarding creation, evolution, archaeology and the development of monotheism. He or she closed by assuring me, “I am not interested in beginning an online fistfight; instead I ask these questions to understand the meaning behind Christian beliefs … Sincerely, An aspiring person of knowledge.”

Science is a marvelous tool for examining our world. But perhaps we should ask more often why this tool was developed in medieval Christian Europe, and not, say – the Arab world, or China – because the answer is important.

Science depends on repeatable behavior. What point is there in conducting experiments if the laws upon which the universe is based are the whims of a god whose outlook changes daily? You get one result today and I get another tomorrow. Now what? Who will be right next Friday? The Judeo-Christian God of medieval Europe had told mankind through his written word in the Bible and his historical dealings with the Jews that He never changed. Thus science developed as a tool in the Christian West, but not in the cultures subject to the whims of a changing god or gods.

Today we have seem to have lost sight of the fact that science is merely a tool that humankind can and does use to help understand the world around us. But as any handyman will tell you, having the right tool for the job makes all the difference in the finished project. One of the stickier problems in life is when to use one tool over another. The old saying, “to a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail” applies equally to science and its modern-day secular theocracy.

Science was never designed as a tool to explain why we are here, how we arrived here, or what happens to us when we are no longer here. Yet these are questions that have troubled humankind in all cultures and times. By wielding the hammer of science in our earthly playpen, we have arrived at such absurd “explanations” as a Big Bang vs. orderly creation, and misapplied evolution within species, which is clearly observable, instead adopting it as an explanation of the origin of species themselves.

Not satisfied with these “accomplishments,” humanity has put reason, another tool, to work on this erroneous foundation. Thus if all of life is an accident, humanity is responsible to no creator, we as individuals can do whatever we like to whomever we like and the only consequence is that we will at some point cease to exist (sooner, rather than later, if we do it to the wrong person).

Now we are faced with the same absurdity in today’s social world that science was faced with during medieval times outside the Christian world: We make up the rules as we go along, they change according to the whims of those in power, and when we tire of them, we will change them yet again.

I opened with a quote from Daniel Henninger about science being confusing. Here is the context:

It turned out that the CDC’s arithmetic [regarding obesity] had “methodological flaws.” After recombining the data dump, the CDC announced last month that the new number of obesity-related deaths annually is not 400,000 but … 26,000. Most intriguingly, though, the new study found that 86,000 “overweight” people lived longer than people of normal weight.

So was the old study right? The prestigious Centers for Disease Control certainly thought so. Its “experts” ran the information up the flag pole, saluted it, and Medicare was ready to get out its checkbook and pay for obesity “interventions.”

Now there is a new study that turns the old study’s conclusions on its head. Is the new study right and the old study wrong? Should we all double up on bon-bons, so we can live longer while we wait for the CDC to sort it all out? Or is the truth – as many Americans would say – somewhere in between? Or maybe there is no real truth – just your truth, my truth, and the opinion of the guy down the street?

How about Kyoto and global warming? You might think there’s general agreement about the “science.” But “17,100 basic and applied American scientists, two thirds with advanced degrees, are against the Kyoto Agreement” (“Kyoto Protocol – Propaganda or Censorship,” by Garth Pritchard, May 7, 2005, Canadafreepress.com).

So let’s have the facts. If science is the right tool to explain the origin of life, the universe, and everything, then let’s have a detailed explanation of how the evolutionary process created the human eye and the sense we call sight. Surely if science an explain the origins of the universe and elaborate the conditions at the time of the alleged Big Bang in which everything began, explaining the detailed evolution of human sight should be a piece of cake.

Baring that explanation, and the physical evidence to support it, perhaps we should stop hammering on each other as though we were just another machine in the universe, before we really break something.