Saturday, October 17, 2009


This is really unbelievable. A video camera in a London tube station catches what seems to be certain tragedy, but somehow it isn't:


God and Scientism

In an article at the Wall Street Journal William McGurn expresses heretical misgivings about scientism - the view that only knowledge obtained through the scientific investigation is genuine and that science is the ultimate authority on every subject.

In the middle of his piece he notes that:

In contrast to the majority of scientists whose wondrous discoveries seem to inspire humility, today's advocates of scientism can be every bit as dogmatic as the William Jennings Bryans of yesteryear. We saw an example a week ago, when the New York Times reported that many scientists view "outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia."

The reporter was Gardiner Harris, and the object of his snark was Francis Collins-the new director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins is perhaps best noted for his leadership on the Human Genome Project, an effort to map the genetic makeup of man. But he is also well known for his unapologetic talk about his Christian faith and how he came to it.

Mr. Harris's aside about dementia, of course, is less a proposition open to debate than the kind of putdown you tell at a private cocktail party where you know everyone in the room shares your orthodoxies. In this room, there are those who hold that God cannot be reconciled with what science has discovered about the human body, the origin of the species, and the beginnings of the universe.

Of course, these fashionable detractors of Christianity haven't a clue about that of which they speak. There's nothing that's been discovered by scientists which does anything to cast doubt on the existence of God and much that has been discovered which affirms it (Doubters are referred to Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell). Indeed, the more we learn about the human body the more easily one draws the conclusion that it's the product of intentional engineering. The more we learn about the origin of life the more we realize how implausible it is that blind, purposeless forces could have brought it about. The more we learn about the origin the universe and its origin the more compelling does Genesis 1:1 sound.

There is no conflict whatsoever between science and God. How could there be? The conflict we see today is between naturalism (the view that physical nature is all there is) and theism. There is nothing about science that requires its practioners to embrace naturalism. Those who do, do so because they simply don't want the universe to be the kind of place where a God might intervene.

McGurn continues:

The more honest ones do not flinch before the implications of their materialist principles on our understanding of human dignity and human rights and human freedom-as well as on religion.

In 1997, for example, an International Academy of Humanism statement in defense of human cloning-whose signatories included scientists such as E.O. Wilson, Francis Crick and Richard Dawkins-went out of its way to attack the special dignity of human beings. "Humanity's rich repertoire of thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and hopes seems to arise from electrochemical brain processes, not from an immaterial soul that operates in ways no instrument can discover." They concluded "it would be a tragedy if ancient theological scruples should lead to a Luddite rejection of cloning."

This is important. The logical conclusion of naturalism is that man is nothing but a complex mass of chemical reactions and electrical circuitry. We are, at bottom, just a bunch of atoms arranged in a rather interesting way, but ultimately we're nothing more than a flesh and bone machine. There's nothing about us, certainly no soul, that gives us inherent value.

It's a view that amounts to a stark denial of human dignity. If we're just a machine there's ultimately no freedom of the will, no soul, no imago dei, no inherent human rights - just blood, muscle and excrement. If that's all man is then there's no reason why those who have the power should not enslave him, exploit him and slaughter him if they so wish. After all, what's wrong with abusing a bunch of electrochemical brain impulses? It's no different, at the end of the day, than tossing your old computer into the trash.

This is the logic of humanism and all other views which deny God and human transcendence. This is the logic that has throughout modern times led powerful men to kill weaker men by the thousands and millions.

The humanist may be convinced that naturalism is true and that man has no specialness, no dignity, and no worth, but that he should want to tout the fact in pronouncements and manifestos, given the ghastly consequences this belief entails, strikes me as perverse. One would think that humanists would be horrified at the logic of the "truth" they have discovered and believe and do everything they can to keep that "truth" secret.