Phi Beta Cons

Scientific Switch

Scientists want science to be religion. Maggie Gallagher comments on what she calls the “emerging religion of science” as discerned in a recent conference held by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif. According to the New York Times, the controlling idea was that “science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told.”


The atheistic and agnostic scientists in attendance were more open and aggressive than ever. The old gentlemen’s agreement between science and religion, that they would maintain respect for each other, was resoundingly broken as the scientists bared their teeth. Richard Dawkins, Oxford professor and author of the subtly titled The God Delusion, declared: “I am utterly fed up with the respect that we — all of us, including the secular among us — are brainwashed into bestowing on religion.” Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate and member of the prestigious University of Texas physics department, instructed: “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.” Another scientist said: “Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome — even comforting — than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.”


Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium, fretted that ”God on the brain” would stand in the way of the love of discovery, and displayed pictures of deformed newborns in order “to disabuse the audience of any idea that an intelligent, loving creator could be behind our existence,” reports Maggie. The beautiful rings of Saturn were offered by another scientist in implicit contrast to the unfortunate newborns. But the nature that these scientists worship caused both these things, so why should we admire their godless universe anymore than the one with God? Wouldn’t you know it, the old problem of evil gets in their way too, only they don’t seem to realize it.


I take that back. Weinberg does, and has famously pronounced: “It is hard to realize that this all [i.e., life on Earth] is just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is even harder to realize that this present universe has evolved from an unspeakably unfamiliar early condition, and faces a future extinction of endless cold or intolerable heat. The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” In what grade shall we teach children that part of the “religion”?


So, scientists want to make science into God in order to satisfy man’s need for the transcendent that he now foolishly finds in religion. But religious believers must agree to leave God out of their forays into science if they are to be taken seriously by the field. Quite a clever switch. But if God created the universe, the universe (and man) will never be understood without reference to Him. So it goes round and round, stoking the confusion behind so many of our debates today.

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