Scientism

The benefits of science are all around us, and the wonders of modern technology give scientists an unfortunate credibility when they speak on subjects that are outside the realm of science. Too often a prominent physicist or biologist is believed when he declares that empirical science has disproved the existence of God or has shown that miracles are impossible or demonstrated that traditional ideas of morality merely reflect our animal evolution.

The fallacy is, of course, that empirical or experimental science is limited to the work of discovering and applying truths about the material world. If there is a spiritual presence in the material world, physical science will not discover it; and if we discover it, physical science will have no idea of what it means.

Chesterton would have none of such scientism.

What can people mean when they say that science has disturbed their view of sin? Do they think sin is something to eat? When people say that science has shaken their faith in immortality, do they think that immortality is a gas?

And for further reading in Chesterton’s works, see “Science and Religion” in All Things Considered; “Science and the Savages” in Heretics; and “On the Mythology of Scientists” in Come To Think of It.

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