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A long long time ago, there was faith. Then along came science, which began a war.
Science was born from objections to religion and superstition. It’s a product of the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, both of which were reactions against the blindness of accepting whatever scriptures had to say about life. Science’s basic premise is that we’re able to go into nature and see for ourselves what it’s about rather than having scripture tell us. And from a religious point of view, them’s fightin’ words because they fly in the face of god, turning the human race into its own god. To religious eyes, that’s the sin of hubris.
Thus began the centuries-long war between science and belief. But recently, something has shifted. There are a number of talking heads in the media these days who take the standpoint that only science leads to knowledge. The problem is that science as we know it today isn’t a pure path to knowledge. It’s certainly a path, but human agendas and corruption have been stunting it for a long time, so those claiming it’s the only path are trumpeting a viewpoint called ‘scientism’.
The fallout of scientism is the belief that there’s no academic peer pressure or corruption within the scientific community to keep science from boldly going wherever it needs to go.
Scientism proclaims the scientific community incorruptible and the scientific method firmly in control of our search for knowledge. The fallout of scientism is the belief that there’s no academic peer pressure or corruption within the scientific community to keep science from boldly going wherever it needs to go. And therefore, since the scientific method is absolute and still perfectly on-track, we can rely on science to provide us with all the truth there is.
But at the moment, our science is limited to answering questions about only the physical universe, so anything that might exist beyond the physical is beyond science’s grasp. And if you think the scientific community is prepared to acknowledge this limitation, you’d be wrong — because of that pesky war against religion I mentioned earlier. Science was born from the drive to disprove religion, so it’s unwilling to admit there might be non-physical aspects of reality that it can’t examine. Doing so would be tantamount to confessing two very troubling things:
- science can’t currently answer all questions, and
- the metaphysical could be real.
See the problem? Science is in a real bind, here. Research is pointing more and more toward non-physical aspects of existence, but science is powerless to study them because it’s currently only able to detect physical nature. Anything non-physical lies beyond the scope of today’s technology. But to admit it is the same as confessing science isn’t the only path to knowledge. This is why scientism has been taking center stage lately to tell us science is all there is and anything else is misguided. This is scientism’s mantra, and it’s getting louder.
Anything non-physical lies beyond the scope of today’s technology.
While scientism’s voice and cultural clout grow, the media leverages it to polarize the public. Media ringleaders want us to see this as an either/or choice where we’re expected to pick sides between science and religion. But if you step back a little and take a larger view, you ultimately discover that it’s a contrived, artificial choice, because looking beyond science doesn’t automatically mean choosing religion. In fact, religion disqualifies itself from the debate due to its own in-fighting.
Religion’s essential function is to bring people into the good graces of whatever god their faith worships. The general idea is that religion provides a means to get right with the divine so the believer doesn’t have to fear god’s wrath. But the world’s many religions all disagree with one another about what the divine is and how it works, and this root-level disagreement leaves religion useless in the search for objective metaphysical knowledge. If science understood this, it would see its war against religion as meaningless and move on. Religions pose no actual threat to science because religion is at war within itself. Hinduism argues for many gods while Judaism and Christianity argue for one, Buddhism argues for none, and Taoism argues for an impersonal ‘divine order’. Even if one of them is right, there’s no way for us to know which. Therefore, religion is unusable. For the purposes of advancing objective human knowledge, religion is irrelevant.
Religions pose no actual threat to science because religion is at war within itself… Even if one of them is right, there’s no way for us to know which.
Science needs to recognize this and move on. Unfortunately, scientism is so busy tilting at religion’s windmills that we’re all looking on, cheering for whichever side we’ve chosen. What the scientific community needs to do is acknowledge that there may be something beyond the physical and then begin devising ways to detect it. That’s it. Nothing more is required. If scientists were to do that and begin a methodical investigation of what may lie outside physical nature, science would no longer need to battle religion; it would swiftly and surely take the situation by the horns and leave religion to the faithful.
Instead, the scientific community is bullied by scientism into insisting there’s nothing beyond the physical, because: “We can‘t detect anything beyond the physical.” This is like a colorblind person proclaiming: “There is no green, and all y’all who think you see green are deluded.” If some people say there’s green and some people don’t, the only way to get to the heart of the matter is to investigate until we have conclusive evidence one way or the other. But science hasn’t yet reached that point with the metaphysical.
Scientism makes scientists so skittish about the metaphysical that they make no effort to investigate it, which leaves a glaring blindspot in scientific inquiry.
At the moment, science is under scientism’s thumb, which defends its colorblindness and asserts it as fact. Scientists are understandably skittish about the metaphysical, because the pervasive culture of scientism in academia and the media threatens them with loss of credibility and even their jobs if they pursue what scientism forbids. The result? Nobody’s investigating metaphysical possibilities, which leaves a glaring blindspot in scientific inquiry. Willful ignorance is unbecoming in anyone, but especially in scientists. They need to get past this or they’ll consign all of humanity to scientism — the dogmatic, religion-esque, faith-based dark side of science that gets us exactly nowhere. Scientism is human ignorance and hubris masquerading as fact. Even now, there’s powerful scientific evidence supporting a non-physical, transcendental aspect to existence, and I’ll provide it next time.
Michael is author of the Soulstice Saga, a transcendental ‘spacetime’ opera. Known for haunting a piece of reality called Denver, he suspects Earth is just a playpen and hopes to get to the real stuff upon waking from his nap.