Blinding ourselves with science

What is the purpose of big-s Science these days? Gerard Van der Leun explains:

[T]he only thing that makes a bigger splash in Science these days than a cure for cancer is some bit of “cutting-edge research” (almost always with the aid of computer modeling) that either warms the globe or disparages religion. To the secular, nothing is sacred. Then again, why should it be? They’re “secular.”

Why? Because it is a central tenet of faith, of pure faith, in the Secular Religion, that traditional Christianity is the “Anti-Darwin” to that faith. Strange when you consider that, in terms of actual dogma and actual acts, Islam is far more hostile to all the core tenets of science, but … it really isn’t very safe to take too close a look at that collection of ergot-derived insights out of the desert. Those adherents are a bit more lethal when it comes to accepting slights on their religion. But then Christianity is the dominant religion of the First World and that’s what we’re discussing here — not which faith is right, but which faith is to be master. It seems that for Science to triumph as the new religion, Christ has to die again — and this time he’s got to stay dead.

Lurking behind the curtain are observations that dare not be noted but which are obvious nonetheless, and they involve otherwise meaningless notions like “fairness.” Now nothing in life is fair, of course; it was never intended to be. But Suzie Cheesecake down the street resents the hell out of the fact that [any random guy] can engage in indiscriminate screwing with seemingly no consequences, while she has to worry about pregnancy and such. Why she blames the Pope for this is anyone’s guess.

There are fundamentalist Christians who hold that everything in the Bible is as the Bible says it is. And there are fundamentalist Scientists … who hold that nothing in the Bible is as it says it is.

My very small puppy in this fight says that there is a lot in Science that lets all of us live longer and better lives while there is a lot in Christianity that lets us live deeper and more meaningful lives.

I don’t look to Christianity to bring me the weather reports for tomorrow. At the same time I don’t look to Science to ever, in its widest dreams, reveal the core of the miracle and mystery of being a conscious entity who has been granted the gift of being able, in my better moments, to witness — even for an inch of time — the wonder of Creation.

I know that there are many zealots of the Secular Faith who will think the less of me for not being “tough minded” enough just to face up to the fact that everything really is “purposeless matter hovering in the dark.” I know that habit of mind well. I wore it like a pre-fab Medal of Honor for many years. Then one day I had had enough of Nothingness and I sent it back.

Today, you are not allowed to suggest any kind of qualitative difference between any random member of the Forbes 400 and a guy in frazzled T-shirt and jeans who takes a dump on the streets of San Francisco. After all, the bucks-up Forbes guy has money, and therefore at some point he must have exploited the Bay Area Crapper; at no point does it matter that the Forbes guy actually refrains from fouling the streets.


  1. Dan T. »

    10 March 2019 · 8:41 pm

    If believing in religion makes you feel better, then nice for you I guess, but I still find religious beliefs to be illogical.

  2. McGehee »

    10 March 2019 · 9:27 pm

    Science has its lane and religion has its lane. Each deals with questions of today, but the questions are in no way similar.

    What questions science can answer, it does by raising new questions to be addressed tomorrow.

    What questions religion addresses, it does by noting that some of yesterday’s answers are still good.

  3. hollyh »

    11 March 2019 · 8:38 am

    About the argument that science and religion are neatly compartmentalized…., I don’t see how. If you believe a set of non-science based beliefs about how the universe works, how can you keep this neat separation in place? Perhaps it’s because I’m a non-believer, but I don’t see how that avoids becoming a mess. If a religion were to answer questions completely WITHOUT expecting you to believe in magical things, then perhaps so, but I don’t know of one that does that.

  4. John Salmon »

    11 March 2019 · 9:25 am

    Stephen J. Gould spoke of the “separate magisteriums” of religion and science. Each addresses its own set of questions. Note that the list of important scientists who are/were Christians is a long one, including George Lemaitre, the Belgian priest who proposed the Big Bang. And it should be noted that one may rule out the supernatural, but this presupposition cannot be proven by science.

  5. fillyjonk »

    11 March 2019 · 3:05 pm

    I’m thinking of the old line about the Bible being “It does not tell you how the heavens go, but how to go to Heaven.”

    I am (allegedly) a scientist and also a believer; my life would be infinitely poorer if I rejected one or the other ways of trying to understand life.

  6. McGehee »

    11 March 2019 · 7:53 pm

    Perhaps it’s because I’m a non-believer

    It is. You just need to open your mind.

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