Science vs Word of God

People exhibit medieval-like ignorance when it comes to science. When they repeat, like dumb woodpeckers, “trrrrust science! trrrrrust science!,” I feel very hopeless.

Two hundred+ years since the Enlightenment, and people still don’t see any difference between science and the Word of God. They think that a prophet comes, lays down the law, and then we have to prove the strength of our faith (or trust) in his infallibility by rejecting any corrections to the prophesy.

Science, as everybody on this blog knows, is the exact opposite. It isn’t weakened by constant doubt. To the contrary, questioning, probing, tinkering, and doubting are indispensable for science to flourish. The very first contribution to a new field is never the law. It’s a start to a conversation.

I’m not a scientist, obviously, but I have learned quite a bit about the Enlightenment era and the birth of the modern mentality. It’s precisely this constantly evolving nature of the human knowledge, the normality of doubt, and the possibility of any authority collapsing under the weight of new discoveries that it was so hard for the medieval minds to accept.

People are trying to make science serve the purpose that religion used to serve, and it’s a waste of time.

10 thoughts on “Science vs Word of God”

  1. Actually, it’s the mistrust of scientific method that’s “medieval” and look, there was science then. People are going around saying they can “just tell” Fauci is a “bad doctor,” vaccinations are a hoax, etc., etc. The fact that doubt is important in science does not mean they have the expertise of trained scientists.

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  2. Any student in any medieval university would have learned one thing critical to modern science: that there are necessary truths, such as the rules of logic; conditional truths, such as anything dependent in any way upon observations; and opinions, such as what a craftsman has that allows him to do his job – useful, for sure, but too unstructured to be a ‘science’ in the original meaning of the word. Using the questions method, as epitomized by Thomas’ Summas, the student would learn what it means to lay out a case logically, to make sure he understood the contrary arguments in their strongest form, and then to make sure every point was answered – all the while knowing that, because outside of the rules of logic, nothing about the argument was necessarily true, all conclusions were subject to revisions and even rejection. The medievals made a clear distinction between matters of science and matters of faith. They knew their faith rested on revelation, and their science on observation and logic.

    The main differences between the medieval understanding of science and modern science: on a philosophical level, natural science was art appreciation to a medieval but a tool for conquering the world to the Royal Society; on a practical level, medievals didn’t have all the cool math and gadgets. Logically and methodologically, the medievals had it down.

    It’s a much more modern problem that people ‘believe’ in science. An educated medieval would not fall for that.

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  3. I have grown tired of explaining (in conversations) with people that something published in a “professional” journal, like the sainted New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), is not scientific fact, but “in fact” is only the beginning of a process. Real science requires that the methodology enumerated in the article be conducted by other scientific researchers who upon precisely duplicating the methodology get exactly, exactly, exactly the same result. Over time. Without exception. Often this takes years.

    The mass media’s practice of reporting an article from one such sainted source ( as though it were fact) is a truly serious misrepresentation.

    I think that I’ll stop with that, for now. Otherwise I could expound , and never get anything else done today.

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  4. “People are trying to make science serve the purpose that religion used to serve…”

    Two very excellent books by Princeton historian David A. Bell help explain how the French Revolution was key to this transformation and how notions of the modern state and modern war metastyized the process- The Cult of the Nation in France, and The First Total War.

    It was not for nothing that Tolstoy in War and Peace painted Napoleon as the Anti-Christ.

    In the medieval west, people prayed to God for relief from plagues. These prayers might be answered, or not, but prayer was based in humility and a degree of acceptance of our role in God’s wondrous plan. In our day, the state promises that if we obey its edicts on the Wuhan flu, edicts based upon Imperial College “science” given as revealed truth to it’s public health acoloytes, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll avoid a horrible nasty painful death on a ventilator (and by the way, stay completely away from that poisonous chloroquine because Orange Mad Bad is The Evil One, for reals). There are so many really frightened people out there.

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    1. I’ve had to be off-line most of the day but this turned out to be a brilliant thread.

      I have the best commenters, for real. This is a pleasure to read.

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    2. “There are so many frightened people out there.”

      This is a feature, rather than a bug of the modern age. Supplanting Christendom, science and the religion of science have no vision of a loving, forgiving God to balance and pull back from intolerance, cruelty, and total wars of extermination against enemies who deny the true science-based light of, say, Marxist-Leninism, race science, neo-liberal economics, etc. Heretics must be completely silenced or destroyed as a necessary condition for humanity to advance to a promised earthly paradise.

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  5. Scientism. I’ve been meaning to do some deeper reading on it, but in the meantime, this Zuboff quote puts things quite nicely:

    A “plan” replaces politics, overseen by a “noncompetitive” group of “Planners” who eschew power in favor of the dispassionate administration of the schedules of reinforcement aimed at the greater good. Planners exercise unique control over society but “only because that control is necessary for the proper functioning of the community.”

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    1. Zuboff’s observation is correct but a little anachronistic. ‘Planning’ is a modernist approach. The approach of SV is to constantly revise the plan, constantly keep ‘pivoting’ (think facebooks changing UI interface). Under planning, citizens get some benefits of certainty – pensions, retirement savings, healthcare, longer term definite outcomes for the society etc. This is because of the imbalance in ‘knowing’ where ‘they’ know everything required to plan and ‘we’ know not enough.

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      1. What I’m actually quoting here is Zuboff talking about Walden Two by Skinner, so anachronism would make sense. Not that the “knowing” is left to the people in Skinner’s approach, it’s left to the planners.

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  6. I’ve been following Matt Stoller on twitter for quite some time, and he’s an unusually intelligent and insightful guy. You can even see that some here, he notices that tech companies are trying to take over what have traditionally been government. But he so woefully misunderstands the problem at hand and how to solve it (you think breaking up facebook will solve the problem? you think having people pay for facebook isn’t political poison? what?) The fact that even intelligent critics of the tech industry don’t understand the problem at hand is worrisome. Btw, I recommend sticking through to the end when he’s talking about “program brain” lol. He succinctly summarizes one of my bigger issues with Democrats, esp. “progressives.”

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