The “Anti-Science” Lie
|January 24, 2017||Posted by William J Murray under Intelligent Design|
It is often a claim of atheists/naturalists that certain individuals, groups or positions are “anti-science”. There is a narrative now that the Trump administration is “anti-science” because Trump and certain cabinet nominees do not subscribe to certain so-called “scientific” views, such as AGW or certain evolutionary claims, and do not intend to set policy according to certain views held by many scientists.
I doubt anyone except perhaps actual Luddites are “anti-science” in any truthful interpretation of the word. Trump and his entire team, ID advocates and Christians of virtually every kind embrace science and use technology. Christians basically invented science and made most of the great scientific discoveries in history, whether or not those discoveries coincided with their religious views at the time. It’s not like ID advocates, Christians, Republicans or Conservatives eschew science or technology or call for an end to all scientific investigation. So what does the term “anti-science” really mean?
Focusing on long-term, accumulative biological variations, what position of IDists and/or Christians is “anti-science”? According to atheists/naturalists, science is silent with regards to supposed supernatural causations, so science has no position on whether or not any supernatural influences caused life or affected long-term biological variations. By that view, the belief that God created life and the forms of life we see now cannot be a belief that science has any comment on. Holding such supernatura-oriented beliefs that are not scientific does not make one “anti-science”; it simply means one has beliefs that science is (supposedly) silent on.
Perhaps the atheists/naturalists are referring to setting policy in government and in schools when they say someone or some view or agenda is “anti-science”. Let’s look at some extremes to make the point clear; let’s say it became a norm to not teach evolution in school and to teach Christian creationism. I think we can definitely agree that this would be called, by atheist/naturalists, “anti-science” policies set by “anti-science” advocates.
However, science itself is a methodology and, one can say, a collection of facts and theories. Science is silent on what anyone should do with science or the product of science. Science is not a moral or ethical code. It doesn’t tell us how we should behave, how we should run government or what our culture should be like. Science doesn’t tell us what we should teach our children or why we should teach them one thing or another. So, teaching children Christian creationism instead of standard evolution cannot be “anti-science” because science doesn’t tell us what we should teach our children or why we should teach it to them.
Perhaps one could properly characterize an “anti-science” policy as one that allows/advocates the teaching as fact something that is in conflict with a widely-accepted scientific fact or prevailing theory. Let’s use the cases of special creation and a young earth and posit arguendo that those views are factually incorrect with regards to science. Certainly, it’s not fair or honest to characterize a position in conflict with a few scientific “facts” (or long-held theories) as being “anti-science” when the vast bulk of scientific facts and theories are accepted and taught. That is not an “anti-science” agenda at all, but rather a disagreement with a very tiny subset of scientific conclusions – or, at least, a disagreement that those conclusions should be taught as fact in school.
A scientific fact, however, is not considered a truth. Science is a descriptive and predictive tool, not a fount of truth, wisdom, ethics or morality. It is not (or rather, should not be) a religion that demands our subservience to every decree of prevailing theory or widely-agreed, current interpretation of data. That is scientism based on an atheistic/naturalistic ideology. It is not “anti-science” to reject atheist/naturalist scientism, but is it “anti-scientific” for a moral, ethical, spiritual or religious view to take precedence over a widely-held scientific fact or theory?
No. It may be anti-scientism – a refusal to prioritize prevailing scientific views above all else, but it is not “anti-science”. Rather, it is simply a perspective that prioritizes science below moral, ethical, spiritual or religious views one regards as fundamental or necessary truths. A refusal to accept and prioritize prevailing scientific views above all other concerns, understanding or views, in academia or in public policy, is not “anti-science”, but rather non-scientism, a rejection of current scientific views as being the sole fount of truth, wisdom and knowledge which all other considerations must be secondary to.
Thus, the term “anti-science” is revealed as nothing more than rhetorical pejorative, an attempt to shame, ridicule, diminish and marginalize those that do not ascribe to scientism, which is a religious view held largely in accordance with atheistic/naturalistic ideology.