Have folks replaced traditional religion with an unquestioning faith in the doctrine they call “Science?”
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Anne: 00:01 Okay. Here we are again with Drake on the East coast. Thea down in Southern California, me, Anne, up here in Northern California. And last time we got together we talked about organized religion. And again, I want to just briefly preface this dialogue just like all the others with an explanation of why we’re doing this. It’s, it’s really just an examination. It’s asking questions. It is an attempt to find perhaps new language for a growing, ever expanding consciousness as we––as I understand––are moving into a new age. And so here we are again. We spoke about organized religion last time and while I have a great deal of respect for the practice of organized religion, all that it offers, a foundation of morality and a guideline for growing, positive living. I also see some downsides to it. And what we discussed last time was the tendency sometimes to get stuck in a fixed set of beliefs which don’t then promote continued examination and looking at things from a new perspective, which then in turn doesn’t support learning. And for us to expand our consciousness, for us to continue moving forward and grow, we need to keep learning. And so following that, I’d like to discuss just briefly in this brief conversation what I see as a kind of new secularist religion called “Scientism.” And it’s a term that is being bandied about more and more these days. It’s a distinction between actual science––which is a method of observation and measurement and theory based on those observations and measurements and experiments––versus a doctrine. And before we started recording, Drake and I were talking a little bit about my experience––and I think we’ve all had this experience where, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s medicine,vaccines or really any area where science has brought us to an understanding and a practice and a theory––I’m finding that when people challenge those theories, whether it’s in social media, online debates, or in person, often, even if I, for example, provide studies that challenge the consensus, the response will be “It’s science. Don’t you understand science?” Do either of you have this experience?
Drake: 03:48 Yeah. Something that came up for me when you were talking, Anne, was the way that people appeal, not so much to the method of science, but to science as some sort of credible, accepted institution. Right? That things need to be peer reviewed and pass through a certain number of tests or examinations before they are accepted as, you know, science. And in thinking of what it means to challenge that practice––because really if one’s going to have faith in a methodology, it seems to me that you need to actually examine what that method is taking for granted. Like what, what a certain type of methodology is taking for granted. And something that I’ve been learning over this past year, as my education has continued, is that every single science has its presuppositions that it has to take for granted. I wouldn’t pretend to know anything very complex about any of these sciences like biology or physics or chemistry but I do know that, or I think I know, that for example, biology takes the existence of life for granted, right? Like it goes back to very basic presuppositions that it has to assume that, or the science can’t work. And I think there’s other suppositions that kind of weave themselves into the method of science.
Drake: 05:33 And if those aren’t examined then I think science can result in wrong conclusions. Like, I think of like if you’re, if you’re trying to draw two parallel lines and it’s a little bit off in the beginning,, then a mile down the road, it’s going to be way, way off. Well and something I thought of that I learned about last semester was a guy named William Harvey in England who basically figured out that the blood was a system of circulation. You know, he figured out that the blood, that the heart pumps the blood through, you know, that it passes around the lungs. Then it goes to the other, you know, different ventricles of the heart, goes through the entire body and then circulates back to be re oxygenated. And he figured that out by questioning the established doctrine of the time, which was Galenism. And because Galen said no, the heart does this specific function only and that was it––and that was the accepted thinking in the universities––and Harvey started cutting open, he started dissecting animals and going, actually that doesn’t make sense. Like he had to question the method of actually, the method of the practice of the anatomical science at the time to make this breakthrough. And so it seems like that should still apply.
Thea: 06:52 And we could then take that same gesture or standpoint of not just going with what you’re given. It’s that you have to continuously be testing and making observation about your practice of religion, your practice of science or the method of science.
Anne: 07:15 Drake just left us for a moment. Okay. He’s back.
Thea: 07:24 So I was just saying that it seems like that’s the same sort of point that we were talking about––organized religion––is that, stay awake! Stay awake and pay attention that you don’t hand over your own seeing to another. And in terms of the practice of science and observation, that has to continue, you know, recognizing this is a presupposition, this is where we’re starting from, but that’s not the whole totality of whatever it is we’re observing or studying because you’re given this presupposition to start from.
Anne: 08:01 Yes, absolutely. I agree. I try to constantly question. But even within those sciences, which are founded on a presupposition, I’m seeing a dangerous lack of critical thinking when people are working with these theories, discussing these theories. Let me go on a little bit of a tangent. There is a lawn sign I have been seeing a lot up here––I don’t know if you guys have something similar down there––which makes a few, there’s a few statements. I find it absurd. It seems like a virtue signaling type of thing, but it says something like “women’s rights are human rights,” “black lives matter,” “love is love,” whatever that means. And “science is real.” And “science is real.” What does that mean? And so, you know, that’s what I’m, I’m focused on right now. It’s beyond the fact that Drake, what you’re saying is, is absolutely true. We need to constantly question even the foundations of our working theories. Otherwise we’re going to get stuck in a more and more narrow framework of theory. So we have to constantly question even its foundation, re-examine it. But beyond that, we have to recognize that science itself is simply a method. It is not a truth. I don’t really even know how to get my head around saying something like, “science is real.” I don’t understand it when people say to me––in response to me challenging germ theory even, right? We are developing a new understanding of our immune system and the human microbiome, virome, and the fact that the environment of our body is a huge factor in terms of whether or not one person contracts a disease versus another person who is exposed to the same virus or bacteria. Right? So that is is shifting, that is growing, that is expanding. We’re developing a new understanding of this. When I present this information or present studies that demonstrate, that challenge, the idea that, “Oh, it’s just the germ that makes someone sick,” someone will say “It’s science. Don’t you get science?” Without even having to discuss the argument.
Drake: 11:40 Well that’s funny, for it seems like they’re not even, they’re not even discussing the science then. Because the science, science is just a chain of reasoning within a certain set of parameters. Like, to do science is to reason your way with certain parameters that, you know, at least in modern science, that you’ve set for yourself and to the conclusion that follows. So, when you’re talking about these lawn signs that are saying “science is real,” that sounds to me like putting a sign in your lawn that says, you know, “logic is real.” Like absolutely, logic is real. But logic can be wrong. You can have, you can have conclusions that are logically true, but if your premises are wrong, the logic is false. Like, so same thing. A chain of reasoning is real. Yes, definitely real. But it can still be wrong.
Thea: 12:29 Well the combination of statements on the sign is curious to me. What does science have to do with, you know, rights of human beings having the right to be, and be safe, you know? But it also then leads to that thought that that’s really just that “science is real” is a belief. So it is now outside of the scope of logic or reason. Saying, “science is real” is like, that sounds like a doctrine.
Drake: 13:00 Not science.
Anne: 13:00 Yeah, and I don’t remember now what, I think there was a climate change statement on that one too. Right? So, you know, and that’s where I’m––for the sake of time we won’t get too much into it––but that’s where I am wanting to explore what I do see as kind of a new religion. So Scientism often––it includes the doomsday prophecy of climate change, right? I’m not on any level suggesting that the climate isn’t changing. But whereas peak oil theory was Scientism’s doomsday theory prophecy in the naughts, right? The two thousands. Now it seems like it’s, “Ah! Climate change! We’ve got to change our ways!” It’s kind of, it’s the new religion’s Apocalyptic prophecy and warning. So we’ve got that going on. And then we also have this very fixed set of beliefs that…what I am seeing you know, I see the priests of Scientism––and not saying the good ones, the good scientists, the good doctors are always examining, are always questioning––but I am seeing people grant authority over themselves. I think they are giving the authority to doctors, to scientists, to the experts to tell them what is and what isn’t, what they should and shouldn’t do.
Thea: 14:58 Creating a reality there.
Anne: 14:59 In a similar way that the downside of organized religion, I think, handed that over to the priest. So we’re coming up to 15 minutes and I know Drake has to get going, but I think this is something to examine. I think that for all of the secularists’ focus on rejection of organized religion, to me it seems as if they simply replaced it with a new religion.
Drake: 15:40 New authority. Right?
Anne: 15:43 It’s a new authority. So that’s what it is, Drake. It’s a new authority. Whereas God and the priests are not their authority. Science as a God, almost? And the priests of that Scientism is the authority? Is that right?
Drake: 16:08 I wonder. Yeah. It’s like, it’s just, it seems very comforting to me to think of people who don’t screw up. You know, like I didn’t grow up in organized religion so I didn’t, I guess I didn’t grow up with a conception that there’s always someone watching out for me doing the exact right thing––of a God figure or a priest figure. But a lot of people that I speak to, just lately, talk about science as if it’s some group of people somewhere who don’t mess up. And that’s appealing, right? Like that’s nice to think that there might be people that don’t mess up, but it’s not true.
Thea: 16:46 Well, because it’s taking it from the religious realm, where there was faith involved and the unseen––to the realm of “it’s reason and logic and that is above all what we can trust. And it’s real.” So it’s interesting because we do believe in reason and logic and those are good. But like you said, Drake, if the beginning realm that the reason follows is off, then you have something that’s false and now you have people believing it, or saying “it’s real” in particular arenas.
Anne: 17:25 Or simply if we missed something in our observations, that we then finally pick up, well that’s going to change the working theory and that’s going to change the entire model. Right?
Thea: 17:39 Can I say one more quick thing? The thing that always––and science is not my practice, I mean observation is though, so I guess in one way it is––the thing that has always blown my mind learning the scientific method was that you could only test that which you could conceive of. And so everything is limited there in terms of creating theories and working theories. It’s only based upon what you already know or think you know, and that right there is like, what?
Anne: 18:15 Right. Your own reality. It’s only based on the reality that you can observe at that moment. And as we all know, even from the time, like we said in the last one, from the time you’re five years old to the time you’re seventy five years old, our consciousness, our perceptions, our realities change. We perceive more, differently. Right? So the same goes every day. So anyway, let’s get going and pick this up I think next time, as we’re kind of formulating the discussion for next time.
Thea: 18:50 Sounds good. Thanks so much guys. Nice to see you.
Drake: 18:53 Alright.
Anne: 18:53 Alright, let me, let me stop recording. You too.