I Think You Need a Different Target

I really wanted to find something here but in the end did not. I agree with much of what you have said here about the dreaded scientism. It seems to me, as was said in another comment, that this is really just a straw man to joust against. My goodness, this was stuff that was being fought over fifty years ago and then it tended to be in freshman classes. I know because I was known to poke these ideas when I was first running discussion labs in History of World Civilization classes back then. I’ve not seen any mention of scientism outside the bizarre world of creationists in small town America for many years until this.

I wouldn’t bother responding to this except there is an important issue here that I think is a component of the brutal paradigm shift that is disrupting post-industrial cultures. And that is not caused by UFOs or conspiracies of any kind. It is driven by technological change accelerating social-political-economic disruption. This is the stuff giving us disasters such as Donald Trump, brexit, and various nationalist and pseudo fascist, populist political fronts. Whatever the detail of each issue in each country these are generally understood to be uninformed reactions to the loss of understanding as systems have become very complex and planetary for people who are still caught intellectually in the 19th century or earlier.

Science is human so it is not perfect but it is, by definition, open, inclusive, and self correcting. No other system of human knowledge of which I am aware is built on those principles. To keep this simple, science is not a system of faith. Faith is obviously a lousy way to pursue knowledge. And here is my problem. I don’t think there is any effort to deny the limits of human perception and knowledge. We spend most of our time trying to figure things out and suggesting possible explanations for things we cannot prove. That is art, literature, humanities, and, systematically, social sciences along with the theoretical branches of hard sciences. I think the need is to take scientific methodology further and recover the territory left to religion in the interest of partial gains during the scientific revolution in Europe and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries. Science leads to spiritual fulfillment in a way that no, surviving, neolithic religion can. Evolving Buddhist spirituality is one possible exception as it is based on personal knowledge with science as the foundation. A similar argument applies to earlier, philosophical traditions within Christianity, Judaism and Islam but those are not the surviving mainstream mass traditions, if they survive at all.

We are facing a crisis of morality and ethics in modern culture when paradigmatic change is showing how important generally shared ethical standards are in protecting us from the resurgence of ignorance and ancient hatred. Religion has failed so completely that it is a primary disease vector for the current lurch into ignorance and bigotry. The intellectual difficult with scientific knowledge is that it is NOT absolute. It is a continuously tested relative truth until it is shown to need adjustment. That is the basis for a very satisfying spiritual certainty in a steadily evolving universe. We need to claim that spirituality for science and make it an active part of our education. We are not talking about faith but about likelihood and relative certainty. Most scientists come to understand this and hence ignore religion as an embarrassment or else use it as an heavily edited framework scientific spirituality. I don’t think we can beat star stuff as our essence because it is beautiful and objectively provable. But basically educated people are not given this knowledge and abandoned to the political trap of superstition and mythology.

I think you’re fighting the wrong battle. And with a strawman to boot . . .

Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

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