Science as Salvation and Religion
In the title, I am using the word science not to denote the discipline of science but rather in a more basic and broader sense of a symbol that stands for human knowledge in general. However, the discipline of science for many has become the embodiment of human knowledge and has been enshrined as a temple of knowledge with the scientist being the priestly class that serves in the temple.
Some may be asking themselves what is this guy’s beef with science? I have no problem with science per-say, but I do have a problem with those that replace faith in God with faith in science. Of course, this is not a new problem. It is the old problem of idolatry dressed up in modern clothes of technology and science. Now, idolatry is a problem, which science cannot address; It is an issue that is outside of the realm of science.
Science and technology have done some wonderful and amazing things; however, we need to remember that the wonders of our science and technology have come at a high cost to our environment and may be a very threat to our humanity. The truth is that much of our science and technology was created for war and the purpose of killing. We need to keep in mind that science has it limits. One of the problems of modern man is he believes that he can somehow get above the human condition by his knowledge (science) of the natural world. In this belief, he fails to see that by solving the problems he has often actual creates equal or greater problems.
We need to have a realistic view of science. Science like all things human is both good or bad depending on the men who are using it. It can be used for good or bad. In this, it like all human knowledge and power.
For many sciences is simply people doing experiments using what is called the scientific method. But is that all science is or has it for some evaluated into something much larger and different in the thinking of some?
One indicator of its evaluation is that when you turn to the media, it seems all you hear is science has proven this and science says this or that. This is a clue that science may be more than meets the eye. Has it morphed into something it was never intended to be? It seems that the concept of science has taken on a life of its own quit apart from individuals and groups simply doing scientific experiments in their laboratory. The question is what is the nature of that new life?
When we use the word science we use the word metaphorically to speak of a body of knowledge or in contrast, we use the word in a concrete way as people doing experiments. Here is the issue. When we humans think, we think in pictures, so when we think of the word science, what picture comes to mind? Is it a group of people laboring in a laboratory or is it a metaphysical entity that has no real existence or is it an institution similar to a church or government? What are people thinking or picturing in their minds when they use the expression “science says?”
You can find individual and groups that are doing science, but when you hear people using the word in a sentence like ‘science says’ they are using it in a different way and they usually cannot point to any reality behind their statement. They are appealing to science as a source of authority and that authority has no concrete presence. However, this scientific authority seems to be expanding to take in every area of life. When people use the word science this way they seem to be thinking of it as a metaphysical group consciousness, which has the authority to speak on every issue. To me, this is getting very close to religion and I think it has the potential of being more dangerous than any religion when mixed with ideology and politics.
It seems that there are at least two groups of people that view science differently. One group we could call the realists. They are people that view science from a realistic point of view. They understand that scientists are human beings and therefore, are limited in their understanding. Some things cannot be known. They do not glorify human knowledge and they admit its limits. This group still has enough humility to understand that the universe is filled with mysteries. They also understand that there is no metaphysical being or body of knowledge, which they can point to and say, “science says”.
Then we have the fundamentalist, who has unwavering faith in human knowledge and its ability to usher in some utopian scientific world. These folks are true believers in the concept of progress. This groups claims are grandiosity and from the time of the enlightenment have been promising heaven on earth, and mankind’s deliverance from nature. To these people, science is the new Messiah, who is bringing a new salvation and for many it has taken on the characteristics of a religion. Recently, I read one of its prophets proclaiming, “if you understand how the universe operates. You can control it in a way. Now, this statement did not surprise me coming from that individual. However, what was surprising was that not one person in the audience questioned his statement or even asked for clarification? The prophet has spoken, let no one challenge his divine word; less fire comes down from heaven and destroys him who dares question the prophet.
One thing I do know for certain is that a Christian cannot be a part of the latter group. Christians trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and believe that there is only one true heaven and it is not on this earth. I challenge you who claim to be Christians to watch out how you view science. Science is not God; however, it can be an idol. “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:2).