Thursday, June 23, 2016

The End of Science (Pt. II)

Yesterday, I suggested that science would deeply harm itself if it abandoned the distinctive criteria that set it apart from other intellectual pursuits. Today I'd like to consider another reason science is jeopardizing its own fruitfulness, and it's a consequence of the naturalism (i.e. the view that the natural, physical world is all that exists) that led to the problems discussed yesterday.

This additional way in which naturalism and its adherents may be bringing about the demise of the scientific enterprise is highlighted in a piece at Here's an excerpt:
In his profound new book The Death of Humanity, Richard Weikart documents how self-appointed spokesmen for “Science” such as “New Atheist” Richard Dawkins — and thousands who follow his lead — reject the idea of objective morality, free will, and the meaningfulness of life. Instead they blithely insist that everything — every single thing — in human nature can be traced to natural selection and blind variation. Religious impulses, altruism, friendship, love, even scientific curiosity, must all be explained away as the purposeless side-effects of mutations.

Human consciousness itself is a purely chemical, deterministic process entirely driven by the firing of neurons in the brain — which means that it is impossible to describe knowledge as objective, or any statement as really “true.” The perception that each of us has that a proposition is provable, or an experiment is conclusive, is no guarantee of anything in external reality; instead it is the outcome of subatomic dominoes falling in random patterns. How can science continue if even scientists start to believe this about their minds?

The answer is that it cannot. The death of humanity which Weikart describes will also be the death of science. We are already seeing state attorneys general trying to prosecute scientists who question the political orthodoxy of climate activists, federal regulations overriding the medical judgments of doctors treating “transgender” patients, and a dogmatic refusal on part of many well-educated people to admit that a human embryo is living or human, or that physical sex exists.
In other words, science is naturalism's summum bonum, but naturalistic assumptions are corrosive, if not fatal, to science. Science arose and flourished in the Christian culture of the West, a culture that took it for granted that the world was created by a rational, logical God who created man in the image of himself and that the world was thus orderly and law-like and would yield its secrets to logical inquiry by men who were it's divinely appointed stewards. They believed that because the Creator was rational there was a reason why everything happened and that those reasons could be uncovered by rational investigation.

Naturalism, though, rejects the notion of an intelligent, personal Creator without realizing that everything else that it wants to hold on to is contingent upon the conviction that the world is the product of such a being as they deny. In the absence of God, belief in an objective, law-governed universe, discoverable by human reason crumbles like very old paper as soon as it's touched.

Naturalists, ironically, exalt science without realizing that science and naturalism are fundamentally incompatible and cannot indefinitely co-exist.