Science was a lot better before people believed in it.
An example: William M. Briggs reports from a conference of people who do not believe in global warming alarmism, at which he was speaking, and the reaction to that conference of one reporter who clearly worships science for the results he thinks it will give him.
Science, properly understood, is a tool one uses to achieve certain ends. It is a fantastically effective tool for the purposes for which it is suited. But as the old saying goes, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
You don’t “believe” in a hammer. You use the hammer. You use the hammer to pound nails. You use science to observe and understand things about the natural world. When you believe the natural world is the only thing there is (materialism), then you will think that science is suited to answering all the questions that there are to ask.
I know a large number of people who profess giddy excitement over the New Horizons spacecraft taking pictures of Pluto. Many of the people who act this way have only a basic instruction in actual science, if they have any at all. Now I think it’s a cool thing that is happening WRT Pluto, and I find myself amazed at the technical prowess needed to do it. But it doesn’t impact my life or make it better in any way. I know people who talk about an event like this the way Catholics talk about the upcoming Papal visit. I had to use Catholics as an example because we Protestants don’t believe in holy days or the like- perhaps I could have compared it to the way Protestants, or any Christian, thinks about the Second Coming.
It’s not a ludicrous example, in fact, because Science, to the materialist, is the agent of progress. Nature is all there is, and therefore as I come to understand nature better and better, I will achieve dominance over the cosmos. Science is the way that humanity is deified, and gains absolute power over the universe.
But this is purely a matter of faith. Why do we have any expectation at all that science will lead to this outcome? That is a belief about something that may or may not happen in the future. Now you might say, “We see all the progress that Science has given us in the past, and if we just project that out to the future, things will just get better and better in the future.” But there is no reason at all to suspect this. It is a huge logical fallacy to think that because something has happened in the past, therefore it will happen in the future. To this I can imagine someone responding, “Well, that may be true, but it can’t hurt to try.” In fact, it can hurt to try. Think of the amount of money that is spent on sending a spacecraft to Pluto. Why was that money not spent on cancer research, or for that matter, something with an even more solidly proven ability to increase happiness like nachos and margaritas? We have foregone a lot of nachos and margaritas by sending a spacecraft to Pluto.
And.. the excitement. The giddiness. “I’m so excited about the Higgs Boson!” Why?
It’s because it’s an act of faith, an act of religion. The materialist holds to science as a matter of religious faith, a pure example of what Paul calls worshiping the creature rather than the creator. The professor of this religious faith believes that the advancement of knowledge will cure the world’s ills, and that this advancement is possible, if we just spend enough money.
Now I am truly thankful for science. It’s a brilliant tool. But being thankful for something doesn’t just mean being happy that it exists. If I give my child a gift, and the child loves it and says, look at this wonderful toy that I found! Look at this great thing that I bought at the store! Are they thankful? No, even though they are happy.
Thankfulness is key because only in recognizing that something comes from God can I give it its rightful place, and use it rightly. That’s because God’s wisdom is key to understanding the universe.
Science is a great example of this principle. It was God’s wisdom that gave us science in the first place, and I mean this not in a general way, like He gave us mountains and fire and things, but very specifically; it was greater knowledge of the Bible that came about through the slow and gradual Christianization of western Europe, and in particularly in the Protestant Reformation, that gave us the scientific revolution. The vast majority of the early figures in the scientific revolution, like Kepler, Brahe, Galileo, and especially Francis Bacon, the one who systematized the scientific method and introduced it to the world, were Christians, and not just culturally, but passionate Christians who specifically cited their Christianity as the inspiration for their work, as well as giving them the intellectual framework to do it. They gave thanks for the minds that God gave them, and because they knew their minds came from God, they knew what they were capable of. Many secularists point to Aristotle, but the medievals had been studying Aristotle for centuries before the scientific revolution happened, and in many ways, though medieval scholasticism got the ball rolling, it was the rejection of Aristotle’s methods that really enabled the big breakthroughs in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The struggle over science was not between the Bible and science, it was between science and Aristotle, whose teachings were dogma in the Roman Catholic Church.
But once man starts worshiping science, excluding God, he stops being thankful for science. The result is that science now exists to serve his ends. So it inevitably becomes politicized, as is most obviously demonstrated in the whole global warming debate, but as one of Briggs’ commenters says, actually started much earlier:
Today the ability to obtain grant funding (primarily from the fed) has become a prerequisite for employment in academia in my field.
Science today is about the pursuit of ideological agendas, rather than the pursuit of truth. So it is completely politicized, and the political agendas of those paying the bills rules the day. This is an inevitable consequence of materialism. So ironically, the worship of science not only wrecks your soul, it also wrecks science. When science must carry the weight of your ideological hopes and dreams, then that ideology will become a filter that will govern what you can and can’t accept as true. When science becomes the means by which heaven on earth will be achieved, then only those scientific conclusions that advance the version of heaven that you’re particularly hoping in will be permitted to receive funding. And that leads to the ridiculous conclusions that sexual desires (a matter of choice and behavior) are set in stone and cannot be changed, but the perception of one’s gender (a matter one’s unalterable chromosomes) is fluid.
It also gives us the ridiculous conclusions of global warming, which are plainly refuted by the actual record.
It’s just another example of a fundamental irony of the Christian life- He who loves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it. If you worship science, your science will inevitably be bad, distorted as it is by the burden of your idolatry. But if you worship God, then you can do science properly.