The Cult of Science

The cult of science is led, not by scientists quietly contributing to the discipline, but by popularizers and pamphleteers. Dare I suggest, by those like Bill Nye, who while smart and likable, want the general population to believe the myth that science is ultimate.

This fits the popular mantra that all religious people are stupid, that faith must be blind, and that science is the believer’s ultimate enemy. William A. Wilson, an engineer working in Silicon Valley, describes this problem very well in an article for First Things. “The problem with ­science,” he writes, “is that so much of it simply isn’t.” That which is presented as science, which really goes beyond the role and limits of science, is in actuality a full-orbed worldview:

When cultural trends attempt to render science a sort of religion-less clericalism, scientists are apt to forget that they are made of the same crooked timber as the rest of humanity and will necessarily imperil the work that they do. The greatest friends of the Cult of Science are the worst enemies of science’s actual practice.

Wilson highlights an unintentional result of the ardent anti-theists. As they deride religious belief  they simultaneously undermine the privileged position for science which they seek to establish. In presenting a false dichotomy between faith and science they actually work against themselves.

I’m thankful for cooler heads on both sides of the debate who recognize the limits of empirical inquiry. Understanding an Apple computer doesn’t require one to reject the biography of Steve Jobs. There is room for both the creator and the created. By studying the natural world we are merely “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” We don’t have to choose one over the other.

In fact, it’s by knowing the Author of life that we can understand the story of life. There’s a plot. There’s a purpose. And by knowing him you can understand both. And who knows, while such a perspective will keep you from seeing science as supreme, a sense of purpose might give you even greater incentive for studying the natural world.