On Science

Science is awesome. It is REALLY cool.  Just so you all can rest assured that I’m not just saying this, I will be taking a Biology class next semester in college. I’m looking forward to it.

But science is overstepping its bounds too often and is turning into Scientism, the philosophical belief that science can explain everything about the world. There are a lot of problems with this view. You can prove things are true without resorting to the scientific method, and the hard problem of consciousness is something that can never be solved by science. It’s not because science will never be that advanced. It’s because qualia is not within the realm of science.

Some real philosophers have written excellent stuff on the hard problem of consciousness*. Dr. Edward Feser’s excellent article “Against ‘neurobabble'” comes to mind immediately (I am a huge fan of Dr. Feser). http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/01/against-neurobabble.html

Recently I read an article by another Thomistic philosopher named James Chastek, which gave an awesome dissection of the “Scientism” view. I’ll quote it directly here (the full article is extremely, extremely short, easy to understand, and will take you about two minutes to read, so do that):

Science in the popular imagination is idealized (science cannot explain everything or solve all our problems now, but just give it time!); and only its successes are seen as integral to it (i.e. vaccinations, space travel, and computers are seen as the direct and proper work of science while Hiroshima, Tuskegee, Mustard gas, scientific eugenics and sterilization programs, Josef Mengele, climate change, industrial pollution, etc. are never seen as the necessary products of “science”). IOW, this is obviously not a scientific view of science but one that makes it into an exalted, inerrant  messiah that will set everything right if we only give it our total devotion.  Ultimately, it’s not that we want to destroy creation myths with science but that we want to replace an ancient creation myth with a modern one.


*If you want to understand the gist of the problem as well as fancy words like “qualia” Wikipedia has a pretty solid summary.

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