Science Blinded by Ideology
A recent debate in The Irish Times showed a bias and prejudice regarding science. Having a particular mindset or ideology does not facilitate science. Here’s my response.
Sir, – in the recent letters debating religion and science, it’s too easily assumed religion is anti-science but atheists are certainly not the natural allies of science. This became evident recently with the publication of atheist philosopher Prof. Thomas Nagel’s book Mind and Cosmos pointing out the failings of the atheistic and reductionist approach to science and its overdependence on neo-Darwinian concepts which can’t explain all of science. His former allies called him mad, even calling for his book to be banned. It seems modern materialistic science is the new religion. The Enlightenment heroes of the French revolution murdered great scientists like Lavoisier for no other reason than “we don’t need scientists.” They weren’t religious. Albert Einstein wouldn’t fit today’s criteria; he’d be refused a research grant for not being a reductionist and materialist and for mentioning “god.”
Science isn’t always an independent and objective method. The role of luck is underestimated in science, e.g. the discovery of penicillin was in fact an accident, as is the role of business underestimated; privately funded research has a higher incidence of positive outcomes than publicly funded research, so no group can claim a monopoly on science.
Sadly, since the history and philosophy of science are not part of the school curriculum, for anyone wanting an honest account of the Catholic church’s huge contribution to science, I highly recommend James Hannam’s award-winning book God’s Philosophers and the CERN physicist and priest, Andrew Pinsent’s enlightening talk freely available on video. Parents and children will enjoy The Story of Science by Anna Claybourne (publ. Usborne).
See my other posts on the Enlightenment and this latest from Prospect magazine:
Breaking the Enlightenment Spell: Idealising the age of reason as a perfect model of truth, virtue and knowledge is bad history as well as bad philosophy, a review of the updated version of The Enlightenment: History of an Idea by Vincenzo Ferrone, translated by Elisabetta Tarantino (Princeton University Press, £19.95), is available here
The Enlightenment: A Very Short Introduction is now available