Have we turned "the science" into a new religion?

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Billionaire industrialist and aerospace CEO Robert Bigelow held an intriguing contest this year. He put up a million dollars in prize money for people interested in submitting essays and research into the idea that human consciousness survives beyond the permanent physical death of the body. The winners were announced this week and the ones I’ve read so far are really fascinating, no matter your personal stance on complex questions involving religion, the afterlife, life after death, and all the rest. The winning entry came from Jeffrey Mishlove and the title is “Beyond the Brain – The Survival of Human Consciousness After Permanent Bodily Death.”

I won’t drag you down the rabbit hole of this lengthy paper and all of the evidence and research suggesting proof of life beyond death, though as I said, it’s a fascinating read. There was one section in the front of the paper, however, that I suspect may be relevant to some of the common debates taking place in American politics today. Mishlove speaks of one of the reasons that modern science as it’s recognized in the 21st century has completely abandoned any consideration of more spiritual, less physical phenomena, which long informed humanity’s explorations of the mysteries of the universe for most of our history prior to the advent of the more “nuts and bolts” approach demanded by universities and laboratories today. He writes of what Irish Barrister James Tunney refers to as, “the dark age of scientism.” In this context, “scientism” refers to a fawning approach to technology-based science to the extent that it becomes heresy to question “the science” (does that sound familiar?) in any fashion, making it something more akin to a religion.

Scientism isn’t the same as science. It’s the opposite of searching for truth.

Scientism is the unquestioned belief that the mechanistic, materialistic worldview – which works well for technology – can provide us with a complete explanation of everything. In this era, academics, scientists, and professionals largely ignore the massive accumulation of evidence for postmortem survival – as if it never existed…

This modernist, materialist ethos has incorporated an unfounded presumption of non-survival. Yet, both contemporary and historical evidence, consistent with perennial experience, certainly rebuts this blinding prejudice.

This got me thinking about the concept that Mishlove is discussing and recalling where I’ve heard the phrase “the science” quite a bit lately. Politicians and government health officials have mostly stopped talking about concepts like examining the available scientific evidence and hard, cold results of research studies. Now we’re being told to “follow the science” as if “the science” is some overarching concept that requires faith and adherence. Perhaps an even more glaring example is when Anthony Fauci basically declaredI am the science.”

We’ve commented here on many of the individual instances of questionable “sciencing” when it comes to the pandemic response, though the symptoms have been seen in so many other topics. We’re now being told that the Omicron variant is an important reason to go get a booster shot, though the people studying it fully admit that they have no data as to how effective (if at all) the current boosters are against the milder new variant. But that apparently doesn’t matter. “The Science” has spoken and declared it to be The Truth.

After literally thousands of years of having a very basic, unshakable understanding of the major parts of the human reproductive system and the difference between the two genders required for reproduction and the continuation of the species, even that has changed. We now have organizations as lofty as the American Medical Association saying that men can give birth to children and it’s appropriate to thwart the advent of natural puberty in children so they can “decide” on their gender. Genital mutilation surgery, once nearly the sole province of radical Islamic extremists, is now making its way into American operating rooms. Why? Because “The Science” has signed on with the transgender agenda.

There are plenty of other examples. I’m having a hard time escaping the feeling that the same scientific community that once scolded anyone who proclaimed that the universe is the creation of God (however you may personally define or worship God) has now begun morphing into something new. Science and politics are melding together to create a new, overarching entity that requires worship, belief, and probably more than anything else… compliance. Those who fail to comply will be in defiance of “The Science” and doomed to an undesirable outcome.

I think I’m going to abandon my frequent use of the old phrase, ‘may you live to see interesting times.’ Those times appear to already be upon us.