Posted by: gcarkner | August 8, 2012

Science or Scientism?

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Scientism is the notion that natural science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or form of human knowledge, and that it is superior to all other interpretations of life. It assumes an immanent, Closed World System, which rejects the validity of any transcendent elements: there exists a strong attraction to the idea that we are in an order of nature and do not and cannot transcend it. In scientism, the study and methods of natural science have risen to the level of an ideology, and so have morphed into a methodological imperialism. Scientism also indicates the improper usage of science or scientific claims in contexts where science might not properly apply, such as when the topic is perceived to be beyond the scope of scientific inquiry (e.g. to determine a worldview or final purpose). The stance of scientism thus may indicate in an overconfident fashion a scientific certainty in realms where this is actually impossible, overreaching its proper limits in a process which can thereby ironically discredit science.

Eric Mills UBC PhD student in Physics wrties:

The naturalist assumes that the universe is devoid of super-natural influence, without proving it, and indeed, without ever being able to prove it. Many science-minded-people are proud of the fact that they don’t have faith, that they can justify their beliefs. It comes as a shock to them when they slowly realize that, like everyone else, they start from a point of faith and build from there. Getting them to admit this is an important first step. In the current climate, it can often seem like science and God are permanently at odds; orthogonal concepts that cannot coexist. And if they are at war, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, for the past couple of centuries, science has been winning. That isn’t the case, though. Science allows us insight into the mind of God, and God gives us the purpose and motivation to do science.

Indeed, the issue is to get both science and Christian faith in perspective, to understand the worldview behind scientific atheism, and the nihilistic trajectory that often does result. Something to contemplate. For a full article on scientism by Dr. Gord Carkner, write


References: Alister McGrath’s response to Richard Dawkins: The Dawkins Delusion and John Lennox insightful book: Did Science Bury God?

UBC Professor Dennis Danielson, Book of the Cosmos.

God and Nature:   The American Scientific Affiliation: magazine is Perspectives

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