There are millions of people spending their working life pushing forward scientific knowledge. The breadth of knowledge discovered by the hands of so many scientists is beyond anyone’s comprehension. Pronouncements by the scientific community have become almost the word of God. Nobody has the evidence to question them. And yet…. sometimes they just don’t seem right. They make us uneasy. We fear that scientists have overstepped their knowledge, and often rightly so. We must not be afraid to voice our concerns, see for example http://philhemsley.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/mitochondrial-donation-some-concerns/
With so much knowledge out there, and so many people working on science, many in society have come to believe that science will eventually be able to answer every question. “Eventually we will know everything about how the universe works. Science will allow us to live forever. Technology will reverse global warming. We will finally leave earth and colonise the solar system and universe. Maybe we will even learn to travel through time itself, and finally we will be able to meet the maker of it all and ask why he made such a mess of things….”
Of course, many of these ideas come from science fiction, but literature influences our culture and outlook. All of the ideas above seem reasonable extrapolations of where we have got to, and are often reinforced by the fantasizing of high profile scientists. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1270531/Stephen-Hawking-backs-possibility-time-travel-millions-years-future.html
There is another group of people who have a different outlook. They believe that the literal explanation for everything that has happened, and prediction of everything that is going to happen in the future is written in a collection of books and manuscripts compiled from 2000-4000 years ago, called the Bible. The first of these books describes how the world was created and populated with all the plants and animals as completely formed organisms. The whole process took just six days. This literal interpretation of the book of Genesis will inevitably lead to a fear of science; “Will those millions of people prove my belief’s wrong? Have I built my life on a lie?”
How can we overcome our fear of science? How can we tame and control this beast, and stop it turning round and destroying us?
The only way to overcome our fears is to face them. We need the courage to try to understand what science is and what it isn’t, what it can tell us and what it can’t. We need to understand the assumptions behind all science. We must not get lost in the detail, but we need to set the whole in context. We need a guide.
Many of my posts on this blog are intended to help us think about scientific issues:
and my book “The Big Picture” can equip the reader to begin to understand how to deal with science. Reviewers seem to think it works:
There are other resources that help understand how we might deal with science, and I refer to many in the book. But I hope that my years of spare time researching of these big questions will be of benefit to others, if only as a starting point for further discovery.
As I mentioned above, if we are afraid of science, the best thing to do is to confront our fears. And it’s best to confront them with a friendly guide.
- “Scientists of faith” from THE NAKED TRUTH 2 (citizentom.com)
- Tim Minchin on science versus arts (scienceornot.net)