We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land.
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand.
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.
– “All Good Gifts,” from “Godspell”
As America and the rest of the Western world grow more secular, something is taking the place of religion in peoples’ lives: science.
Today, people are attributing the most amazing results to science. We can thank science for our existence. Our food. Our water. Our health. Our children.
I have a science background (biology). My respect for science is second to none. Science has given us incredible medical miracles. It’s given us engineering marvels, advances in agriculture and hydrology, astounding developments in technology and endless other innovations that have improved the quality of life for mankind as never before. Believe me, I am not diminishing the impact of science, particularly in the last hundred years.
But at what point is it too much science? Among some people, science has become elevated beyond its role as a servant of mankind and become our master.
There is even a term for this: Scientism, the “belief that the scientific method has no (or few) limits and can successfully be applied to almost all aspects of life, and provides an explanation for everything.”
“There appears to be an increasing desperation to the atheists’ efforts to write off religion in the modern world,” states the Rethinking History blog. “More and more efforts are being made by people like Richard Dawkins, who used to smugly assume that religion was a dying vestige of the past: to whip up some popular enthusiasm about what they describe as pointless, or even evil, superstition. Which is amusing, when you consider that atheism, and particularly ‘scientific’ atheism, has all the attributes of the most fanatical of religious movements.”
Fanatical is right. “Nothing must be held sacred,” thunders PZ Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota at Morris and a fire-and-brimstone evangelist for science. “God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet.”
Myers condemns anyone who undermines “the core of rationalism we ought to be building” and finds even the slightest sympathy toward religious faith “pernicious.”
The most famous high priests of Scientism are Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, but they are by no means alone. Chemist Peter Atkins likens faith to a tumor (“the smaller the better”) and explains the beginning of the universe as “chance. There was a fluctuation.”
Love that scientific specificity.
“Science, which originally simply meant the study of the natural world, has in this view been conflated with scientific naturalism, a philosophy that the natural world is all that exists,” noted Chuck Colson in an essay entitled “Exposing the Religion of Scientism.” He goes on to note how some scientists are wielding their fields of study like a bludgeon, with a common tactic: to use science “as a weapon to shoot down religious faith. The standard assumption is that science is objective knowledge, while religion is an expression of subjective need. Religion, therefore, must subordinate its claims about the world to whatever science decrees.”
But there is a problem with worshiping science, particularly when it replaces God. Historian Bill Federer notes science tells us what we can do, while religion tells us what we should do. There is a big – a huge – difference.
There is a lot we can do thanks to science, but it remains to be seen whether we should permit it. Science has brought endless good to humankind, but it has also brought out the worst in man. It was in the name of “science” that Hitler and Stalin murdered millions in an effort to purify races and improve genetics. The atrocities of the mid-20th century cannot be dismissed as mere hyperbole from those whose study of Darwin led them to horrific conclusions. No, it was because God was rejected as unreal and unimportant that eugenics thrived and war is now “more terrible than it ever was before.”
According to Conservapedia, “Worshipers of Scientism also believe that science should replace traditional morality, so that they can do whatever they want as long as it is dictated by ‘science.'”
And if that’s not opening an enormous can of worms – an entire Pandora’s box – I don’t know what is.
Science is now determined by consensus. If enough scientists claim something is true, then it must be true. (Climate change comes to mind. Transgenderism comes to mind. The role of dietary fat comes to mind.) It doesn’t matter if other scientists refute the conclusions. It doesn’t matter if the conclusion contradicts history, observation, common sense or even solid data. If a lie is told often enough, it becomes the truth.
“For science to become a true object of worship,” concludes Dr. Giberson, “it must elbow aside the reassuring and seductively simple belief that ‘God loves you.’ This deeply personal faith statement would have to be replaced with one that says something like: ‘The cosmos worked really long and hard to create you and you should be really appreciative.'”
(This is why atheists like to thank “the universe” during Thanksgiving.)
There are those who will read this and pooh-pooh the idea that anyone is “worshiping” science. Those that deny it are probably most likely to be within the thrall of Scientism without knowing (or wanting to admit) it.
Fine, whatever. I’m certainly not going to change their minds, not in a thousand-word column. But I can tell you this: When the chips are down, when someone you love is sick, when doctors are furiously working to save a life with the miraculous help of scientific advancements … then smart people are on their knees pleading with God for help.
And if science fails and your loved one dies, science doesn’t care. But God does.
Science has been proven wrong over and over and over again, throughout history, as new data and new studies come to light. But while advocates of science enjoy pointing out that no one has yet to prove the existence of God, they’re missing a critical point: No one has been able to disprove His existence either.
Scientific consensus agrees that humans are irrational. All scientists are human. Therefore all scientists are irrational. QED: Scientism is an irrational belief system.
You got to love the scientific method.