Against “Scientism”

Against Scientism

n.b., not “Against Science”

Deborah Beach Giordano
© January 6, 2011

Scientism is a word I believe was coined by Huston Smith. It means the unquestioning, unconditional worship of science, without meaningful, necessary consideration being given to the accuracy of its findings or the consequences of its “advances.” This zealous belief system is accompanied by a sneering contempt of anything beyond what the human brain can understand, or that cannot “stand up to” empirical testing. The concept of God is rejected utterly. As Professor Smith writes, they take “absence of evidence [of God] as evidence of absence.” Science should be encouraged and supported but not given free rein to do anything and everything just “because we can.” Simply being able to do a thing doesn’t make it worthwhile or good.

The powers that be
seek to confuse
and bedazzle us
with bright lights,
loud noises,
and lots
and lots
of information. 

The constant demands
on our time
and our attention
keep us focused
on what
the want us
to see
and hear
and believe.

The unending din
makes it hard to think
and destroys
any sense
of wonder,
any curiosity
of what just might be –
out in the wilds
pure reason.

The rational
the repeatable
the empirically true –
that’s what’s real
that’s what matters:
all else is dross,
of that we are assured.

The Mind is king
of all it surveys
and anything it fails to see
does not exist;
a mere delusion,
a fantasy:
a child’s tale
told – and believed –
by an idiot.

Trust in Science –
the invincible,
infallible god
of flawless methodology
and untainted motives

built upon the
irrefutable evidence
of white mice
and college sophomores,
sustained and professed
by a high priesthood
whose degrees
and reputations
on funding
from oil companies
and pharmaceutical corporations.

Surely there’s no problem,
all the data is reliable,
not a single mistake is made,
the laboratories sterile,
all testing double-bind;
who are we to doubt?
How could we dare
to ask and inquire
on topics and procedures
we certainly can know
nothing about about?

Because we can do no other,
as a fine and feisty priest once said;
we here must make our stand,
before more lives are trampled
in the heedless rush for glory,
before more creatures die
awash in a toxic sea,
and deafened whales
and blind sea lions
crawl helplessly onto the shore;

we must speak out
against a world-view
that is world-destroying;
that blithely shatters ocean floors,
blows up mountaintops,
and demolishes forest glades
leaving death
and desolation in its wake,
and caring not at all –
believing in nothing,
concerned with nothing
but its own success;
driven to prevail over all:
to be – literally –
“the last man standing.”

We must make a stand,
for God and for Creation:
to speak up for things seen
and unseen;
to proclaim the dignity
and blessedness of life;
to lay claim to an earth
that’s more than material,
and a universe –
internal and external –
far greater,
and more precious
than mere human minds
can know.


About inklingscommunity

I am a struggling Christian, committed pacifist, near-obsessive recycler, incurable animal lover, inveterate tree-hugger; a nature mystic, a socialized introvert, an advocate for the vulnerable, an opponent of exploiters.
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