Saturday, February 16, 2008

Is Science Really the Answer to Everything?

It seems that for a century or more, some people have had the idea that science is the only source of truth and therefore, is the answer to every human problem--from disease to poverty and beyond. While science can provide helpful facts and ideas, there is much more to life than science alone. I found an article at The Heritage Foundation that should be required reading for all. It provides a common sense view of science's limitations and why we cannot and must not treat science as the be all and end all of the world and the universe.

The article is titled "The Abolition of Man? How Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science". It's by John G. West, Ph. D., who is "a Senior Fellow at the Dis­covery Institute, Associate Director of the Institute's Center for Science and Culture, and author of Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science (ISI Books, 2007)."

Dr. West starts by writing:
"An age of science is necessarily an age of material­ism," wrote Hugh Elliot early in the last century. "Ours is a scientific age, and it may be said with truth that we are all materialists now."

One does not have to look far to discover the con­tinued accuracy of Elliot's assessment. Scientific materialism--the claim that everything in the uni­verse can be fully explained by science as the prod­ucts of unintelligent matter and energy--has become the operating assumption for much of American politics and culture. We are repeatedly told today that our behaviors, our emotions, even our moral and religious longings are reducible to some combination of physical processes interacting with our environment.
He later says, referring to what his book is about:
My book Darwin Day in America explores the impact on American politics and culture of the mate­rialistic abuse of science Lewis warned about so many years ago. Contrary to its title, the book is not just about Darwin. It is about how modern science--a very good thing--has been misappropriated by scien­tific elitists who want to offer a materialistic explana­tion of every part of human culture.
Here is what he says scientific materialism was supposed to do and introduces how it has failed:
Such comments embodied perfectly the optimis­tic vision offered by scientific materialism at the dawn of the last century. During an era when science seemed to be uncovering the material basis of all human problems, it was widely believed that science with a capital "S" could lead to the transformation of society, bringing about greater human freedom, dig­nity, and happiness in the process. In short, scientific materialism was supposed to be a great engine of human progress in politics and culture.

It was not. Human nature was not reformed; crime did not disappear; and scientific materialism did not usher in a new age of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Instead, the excesses of scientific materi­alism have continued to influence American public policy in at least five important ways.
The five important ways, of which his discussion makes up the body of the article, are technocracy, utopianism, dehumanization, relativism, and stifling free speech. Dr. West offers some valuable perspective as to what science can and cannot do and he concludes with this statement:

Contrary to the assertions of some, robust public scrutiny of claims made in the name of science does not constitute a "war against science." Indeed, it may be the very thing that saves science from its own excesses.
Science, in and of itself, is a good thing, but it is not everything. In addition, science, properly conducted, often leads to new information that negates previous ideas and theories. To be blind to science's gifts and limitations is, in itself, unscientific.



At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want a good lesson in just how dependable and trustworthy science is, just look at the Global Warming and Climate Change sham. I think that makes a pretty good demonstration of just how far off base it can be. So called science is so permeated by politics that it takes a lot of time and study to seperate the wheat from the chaff.


At 8:33 AM, Blogger Mary A said...

JR, you are right about that! The global warming stuff is very much about getting control of economies of nations. Evolution is another politically correct position that ignores those facts that don't fit it. Politics tries to use evolution in various ways to promote social programs or ecological movements, in my view. It does take a lot of time and study to sort out what is true and what isn't.


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