The latest issue of WORLD magazine includes my column about phobias, including “homophobia” and Islamophobia, but another legitimate, unnamed one deserves mentioning: fear of scientism and celebrity scientists, although not fear of science itself.
Christians should never fear science because God invented it. He promised, after the Flood, reliability in nature: summer and winter, springtime and harvest. Someday, at a time of God’s choosing, massive changes will occur, but until then scientists can confidently experiment and develop theorems, because everything is not always in flux. Gravity does not exist one day and diminish by a factor of 10 the next. The sun will come up tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar.
With that confidence, Christians developed science, as Nancy Pearcey describes in The Soul of Science. As scientists showed that they did careful and deliberate work in laboratories, the prestige of scientists grew. Scientists, as Yale computer science professor David Gelertner wrote recently, “used to know enough to approach [problems] cautiously,” and accordingly “acquired the power to impress and intimidate every time they open their mouths.”
Anyone who reads the Bible—Gelertner is seriously Jewish—know what happens next: arrogance and pride. He observed, “Science is caught up, also, in the same educational breakdown that has brought so many other proud fields low. Science needs reasoned argument and constant skepticism and open-mindedness. But our leading universities have dedicated themselves to stamping them out—at least in all political areas.”
Gelertner continued, “We routinely provide superb technical educations in science, mathematics, and technology to brilliant undergraduates and doctoral students. … Those same students have been taught since kindergarten that you are not permitted to question the doctrine of man-made global warming, or the line that men and women are interchangeable. …”
These propagandized students promote not science but scientism, and like all “isms” their doctrine falls short of the glory of God. Gelertner asks how they “will they ever become reasonable, skeptical scientists? They’ve been reared on the idea that questioning official doctrine is wrong, gauche, just unacceptable in polite society.”
How indeed? We have reason to fear scientists who go beyond science. We also have reason to hope, for God is the Lord of not only science but also scientists.