Chapter 15 of Evolution, the Big Bang, and Other Fables, by A N Mack MD
In this book, we have had much to say about scientism. It is likely that for many readers this is their first exposure to that term. Scientism is the irrational, unproven, and unscientific belief that all the questions to life, the universe, history, and mankind can be found through scientific means. In other words, it is the unfounded belief that “science has all the answers.” If this book were to accomplish no more than introducing the concept and initiating a serious societal discussion on the implications of scientism, it would be a success. Of course, I believe it can do much more than that, to enhance the real and practical applications of science, and to place science in its proper place in God’s created order.
But what is scientism, and what does the average person need to know about scientism? And why should anyone be concerned with the prevalence of scientism in society today?
- First, scientism is philosophy masquerading as science. It is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you are a scientist, you may not be enough of a philosopher to recognize its blatant falsehood. If you are a philosopher you might believe you do not know enough about science to refute its claims. If you are an average man or woman on the street you might just accept scientism, thinking “surely all those academic people can’t be wrong.” Nevertheless, scientism has never been proven true by ANY method, let alone the scientific method!
- Second, scientism refutes itself. You don’t have to be “smart enough” to refute it! It is SELF-REFUTING! Scientism claims that the only things we can know about the universe are those things which have been tested and proven scientifically… but scientism itself has not been tested or proven scientifically. Thus belief in scientism is not only irrational. It is UNSCIENTIFIC. Ethical, unbiased scientists, for example, would not reject (out of hand with no evidence) the possibility that the universe originated at the hand of an omnipotent Creator. They would not claim to “know” there is no God. To do so is unscientific!
- Third, scientism causes people to reject their faith. To the practitioners of scientism, faith and religion (and especially Christianity) are viewed as unscientific. If you believe the false tenets of scientism, you become suspicious of everything except that which scientism promotes. You may believe, for instance, in evolution, although it is entirely UNSCIENTIFIC, and has been proven scientifically and statistically and biologically and biochemically impossible. But you absolutely will not entertain the possibility of an Omnipotent Creator God, which is the most probable and likely and reasonable explanation for the universe and the wonder of life.
- Fourth, many things are better and more rationally explained by belief in a Creator than by science. J P Moreland in Ten Things You Should Know about Scientism, says there are at least 5 things science cannot explain but theism (belief in God) can:
- The origin of the universe.
- The origin of the fundamental laws of nature.
- The fine-tuning of the universe. (It is incredibly fine-tuned for life.)
- The origin of consciousness.
- The existence of moral, rational, and aesthetic objective laws and intrinsically valuable properties. (1)
- Fifth, a firm, logical, scientific, and philosophically sound exposure of scientism may save more souls than thousands of evangelists. This is because, at this point in history, so many of the benefits of science are easily seen, and are so much depended on, that much of society has come to believe that even sloppy science is better than meticulous faith. This is of course, not true. In fact, sloppy science is not science at all, and it is only by the rigorous application of the scientific method that scientific advances are made.
But Scientism is not rigorous. Scientism is not science. Scientism is not even good philosophy. It is by all definitions, and at all levels, a personally and societally destructive phenomenon. It must be addressed by pastors, real scientists, and real philosophers at every opportunity and exposed for the false teaching it really is.
Or as written by Thomas Burnett at the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences, “It is one thing to celebrate science for its achievements and remarkable ability to explain a wide variety of phenomena in the natural world. But to claim there is nothing knowable outside the scope of science would be similar to a successful fisherman saying that whatever he can’t catch in his nets does not exist (15). Once you accept that science is the only source of human knowledge, you have adopted a philosophical position (scientism) that cannot be verified, or falsified, by science itself. It is, in a word, unscientific.” (2)
For much more on this topic, please see chapter Three; Evolution, Scientism, and the Demise of Atheism.