catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Scientific Manifesto Debunked


Mar 16 2005
03:59 pm

I found an excerpt from a type of Scientific (read: Religious humanist) Manifesto (1973) in Phillip Johnson’s fascinating “Darwin on Trial.” The excerpt reads:

“Using technology wisely we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life span, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life.”

My comments: I agree that you could definitely point to improvement in the length of life for humans (at least those who benefit from science). Quality of life is not something that science is adequately equipped to define. I met some of the happiest kids who share a hut in Mexico with thirteen other people. I met some of the unhappiest kids while teaching seventh grade and yet a scientific definition would say that my students have a better quality of life.

To take on the manifesto’s points, which the cynic in me loves … Science, even after hundreds of years of the modern era, is woefully inadequate to “control our environment.” Examples: tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes.

Conquer poverty – Nope. Poverty gap globally is widening not narrowing.

Markedly reduce disease – ok, but what about new diseases that science can’t keep up with or old diseases that don’t get the attention they used to?

Extend our life span – conceded, but why that is important scientists cannot prove.

Significantly modify our behavior – nope. People still act the same way today as they did thousands of years ago: murder, rape, betrayal, incest, genocide, hatred of all forms.

Alter the course of human evolution – talk about pie in the sky!

Alter the course of cultural development – more like cultural development alters the course of science. By way of comparison, how much money is spent on developing the latest first person shooter game as opposed to anything else of consequence? Why do we spend so much on the science of entertainment? Because the culture demands it!

Unlock vast new powers – A good example of a vast new power would be the power produced from a nuclear reaction … yes, there is good that can be derived from that, but also vast amounts of pain, suffering and misery. Is it worth it? Is Science equipped even to answer that question?

Provide humankind unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life – now this is just rich. First of all, how does science define abundant? or meaningful? Upon what authority does science draw upon to make those definitions? What basis is used to determine what is more abundant or more meaningful? Something observed? Observed … great, empirically collected … fine, but what is the standard and where does it come from?

The most ironic thing about this manifesto is that it so clearly attempts to replace what many perceive is the point of religion … and yet Scientists (secular fundamentalists) attempt to remove faith from their thinking, but they can’t because it is a part of who we are as humans.

It is better to give than to receive, all the Old Testament laws that protected the Nation of Israel from disease, the promise of eternal (not just extended) life, the hope of a changed heart, the improvement of society, communing with Our Creator, and understanding the meaning of life, and that abundantly. But like I said, this is how many perceive it … really the point of Christianity is for me to understand that I have been created to love God and enjoy Him forever. If that is my focus, then all those other things come in to the proper perspective.