Scientism is not a science. Rather it is a form of a worldview, a filter through which its advocates view and interpret the world. But it does not end there. Scientism actually claims to have a sole understanding of our universe; how it is made, its laws and how it operates. Scientism’s community of believers look to it for guidance in their ethical decisions and conduct. They believe that valid knowledge can only be in science and that only their worldview provides a framework for understanding and interpreting truth. In a way, it is fast developing some characteristics of a cult. Scientism believes it has the capacity to guide mankind into what to believe; understanding who human beings are and their purpose. Sadly, it claims exclusivity and monopoly of rational thinking. Its proponents insist that it is the default intellectual platform from which all truth emanates. This unfortunate position has alienated scientism from disciplines such as philosophy, history, arts, social sciences, literature, etc… Unfortunately, in their zeal to prove that they are right all the time, advocates of scientism have adopted a desperate approach of incorporating qualitative speculations, philosophical assertions, metaphysical perspectives, and presuppositions .
On the other hand, science relies on repeated experimentation, protracted observations as well as measurements to gain its claims about discoveries of characteristics and operations of our natural world. Science demands a certain level of faith in the correctness of the methods it adopts and applies; a faith that affirms the existence of the natural world it explores, and that this natural world operates in accordance with its inherent laws. This translates into a belief system that can be understood. It is a belief system that has also distanced itself from the miraculous. But science acquiesces to its limitations. For instance, science does not have the ability to disprove the notion that the physical world is a result of the Mind of God; a Mind that is capable of miraculous violations and interruptions of the laws governing the physical world . Science can never disprove the existence of the soul which the Bible talks so unequivocally about. Ultimately the choice lies with every human being; whether to adopt an empirical, quantitative scientific view of the physical world or a faith-based view of reality. People can also choose when to believe scientific claims and when not to. Free choice is our inherent right. This is a personal choice and should not be violated or denigrated. Commenting on scientism, Michael Shermer, the Founding Publisher of Skeptic Magazine and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society said “Scientism…is the self-annihilating view that only scientific claims are meaningful, which is not a scientific claim, and hence not meaningful….”.
Scientism has used pejorative language that is demeaning, mocking, scornful and even blasphemous against any form religion, particularly against the Christian faith. Christians are not anti-science. After all science has Christian roots. Many early scientists were Christians including Louis Pasteur, Carl Linnaeus, Michael Faraday, Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Blaise Pascal, etc… “The faith of these great scientists was not a separate part of their thinking; indeed, it was integral to their thinking as they operated within a Christian framework” . Christians celebrate most landmark achievements of science that have made life better for humanity. But they reject the idea of being coerced into choosing between science and God. This, as Dr. John Lennox asserts, is like asking people to choose between Henry Ford and engineering to explain the existence of Ford vehicles and their engine combustion. How can the Agency compete with mechanism and law?
. Halverson, D. (2016). The Poverty of Scientism. Accessed from http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2016/04/12/the-poverty-of-scientism/
. Stephen Lehar (n,d.). Scientism: A system of ethics based on reason without recourse to supernatural belief. Accessed from http://cns-alumni.bu.edu/~slehar/Scientism.pdf
. Faith Facts (2008). Are Christians “Anti-Science?” Accessed from http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/questions-of-christians/are-christians-anti-science
We live in an age when we insist that in order to believe in something, we need to experience and prove it by our senses. That is, we must touch it, smell it, hear it, taste it or see it otherwise it is not real. Our generation has specialized in walking by sight. Having faith in the things of God and his kingdom is scorned and ridiculed as credulity. It is regarded as a default unintellectual position. The dictionary defines credulity as a “readiness or willingness to believe especially on slight or uncertain evidence.” So I ask, what empirical or scientific evidence is there to support the process of evolution? And yet, evolutionists are touted as scholars and thinkers in academia. There are incessant voices that insist that if you cannot prove it scientifically or test it in a laboratory, you should never believe it because it is either a figment of one’s imagination or mere superstition emanating from minds that have no ability to think or reason. This assertion, that one can only know what is real through scientific methods, cannot itself be scientifically proven. Therefore, it qualifies to be put in the category of a figment of one’s imagination. There is nothing wrong with science itself. As engineer-turned-clergyman, John G. Lake once remarked, science tells us how God does things. Through science we have learned great truths about our universe and our physical bodies. We have also been able to learn and to cure and prevent disease through scientific discoveries, which has remarkably increased our life expectancy. But science is being used as a weapon against faith. It is amazing how it is being venerated as a new ideology called scientism. The tendency is to turn all argumentation-whether it concerns politics or social issues- into scientific obsessions to give them needed rationality. No wonder some have concluded that this makes “lab-coated scientists into priests,” which is the very thing they disdain.
To insist that only that which can be empirically proven is real or true is to be mistaken since there are many things in our universe that are considered to be real although they cannot be scientifically proven. For example, we know that numbers are real although they exist outside of space and time. As theologian and philosopher, Dr. J.P. Moreland asserts, science is not able to prove mathematics. It merely presupposes it. Similarly, no one can empirically quantify love or kindness or compassion and yet we know that they are real. No one can see thoughts. Yet as you are reading this, you are thinking, consciously. This means that it is true that there are things that exist that are not physical or tangible such as demons, angels, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God. Believers in the Christian faith should not be ashamed because they believe in that which cannot be scientifically proven. The apostle Paul, a scholar of his time, declares that it is the things that are not seen [physically] that are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). This is a time for believers to earnestly seek the grace to sanctify Christ as Lord in the heart and to always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). But this must be done with meekness and reverence, and not with acerbic anger.