Scientism

            When a person today objects that they cannot believe the Bible, because they live in the modern Age of Science, they are voicing a storyline narrative that is based upon a 20th-century philosophy that is obsolete and no longer currently credible.

            The false narrative of scientism that is still popularly shared in our culture…blocks people from being able to enter into their highest created destinies. 

            Unfounded skeptical unbelief blocks people from entering into the essence of their fullest worth and value, of experiencing their God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts.

            Faith in the God of the Bible is undermined at the very outset by a skeptical unbelief in the existence of God…a fundamental by-product of scientism widely accepted in the modern Age of Science.

            In reality…we now live in the Age of Science and in the new Age of Information

            During the previous three or four decades, information has now joined matter and energy as the third fundamental element in the universe, making scientism too narrow of a viewpoint. 

            In our modern understanding of the breadth of information, scientism is now a non-relevant argument…an evasive distraction in the ongoing evolution/creation debate over the origin of the universe and the purpose of life.

            What is this philosophical worldview of scientism that we find still strongly and profusely embedded in modern-day cultures?

            The worldview of scientism says that we should only reach a consensus over what we can agree-upon as established and empirically verifiable truth, through the means of the hard sciences alone.  Only phenomena that can be quantified and tested through science…that is observable…that is amenable to being testable by repeatable experiments in a laboratory, and therefore is “in theory” falsifiable by neutral, experimental verification…qualifies as reliable truth.

            The materialistic component of scientism by definition excludes the agency component of intelligent design…agency being the moderated, choice-making discretion inherent in the intelligent design of anything complex and specified. 

            Agency by definition falls outside of the reach of hard, bench-science analysis in a laboratory in terms of being measurable and quantifiable.

            But we do not have to look any farther than beyond ourselves to see that agency exists.

            It is an irrefutable fact that well-defined, moderated choice-making exists in the creative origination of varied laptop computers, in a segment of the field of engineering called constrained optimization.

            The screen size, weight, battery-charge capacity, screen resolution, processing speed, and price of laptop computers are multiple competing objectives differentiated by design engineers and marketing considerations.  This creates inescapable decision-points to produce the optimum ranges of laptop computers available for purchase by consumers.[1]

            This intelligently designed differentiation of the well-defined, moderated choice-making of constrained optimization is also evident in the essences of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of living organisms.

            Living organisms require discrete design choices made upfront.

            This intelligence-driven creativity produces complex systems of information that fall outside of the narrow, explanatory reach of scientism, outside the reach of measurable quantification and test-tube validation alone.

            The existence of well-defined, moderated decision-making inherent in cognitive design, admitted into the realm of genuine knowledge, expands the boundaries of reality beyond what can be discovered through the limited scope of scientism.

            The philosophical worldview of scientism actually reduces the boundaries and the reach of the human capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning to discover truth.  It excludes the obvious evidence of well-defined, moderated choice-making prolific and universal all around us in nearly every reality we see and experience.  It sets a high-bar standard for truth that not even scientism…by its own definition…can achieve.   

            Here I am borrowing heavily from a recent podcast[2]…I listened to on You Tube entitled: Science and Faith in a Secular Society with J. P. Moreland, hosted by Think Biblically, through Biola University…downloaded by me on 3/24/2020.

            It turns out that scientism is a concept that is self-refuting

            Examples of concepts that are self-refuting might be: “No statement is longer than three words”…or “I can’t utter a word of English”…or “There are no truths”…each of which makes itself false…is self-refuting.

            To quote Dr. Moreland from this podcast: “The statement: ‘The only way that you can know truth is through the hard sciences,’ is not something that itself could be known to be true through the hard sciences.”

            In this sense, scientism makes itself false, is self-refuting…by its own definition.

            It also turns out that scientism, as a worldview adopted uncritically and for the most part unknowingly by many people in our modern world, is as false a narrative as can be.  Upon closer inspection it is actually an enemy of science, undermining the very field of science it purports to defend.

            It is widely understood that scientific discovery is dependent upon several general assumptions, essential to conducting science, that do not meet the high definition test that scientism itself cannot reach.

            These fundamental assumptions are: that the natural world is orderly and intelligible, that the laws of mathematics and logic are true, that truth has a correspondence to reality, and that human beings are endowed with the mental capacity to be able to understand things external to ourselves…paraphrased by me from this podcast.

            Without first accepting each and every one of these fundamental assumptions as being true, assumptions themselves lacking formal proofs, the empirical enterprise of human scientific investigation of the natural world…cannot proceed forward…does not exist.

            This is part of the gaping hole of inconsistency in the modern narrative of naturalistic materialism that makes the untrue and unscientific suggestion to modern mankind, to rely solely upon the hard sciences as the only sure standard by which to identify truth. 

            The fact is that all of science is built upon the foundation of philosophical assumptions we accept “by faith” to be true, without hard scientific, backup proofs of their truth-value.

            One of Dr. Moreland’s main themes of this podcast is that scientism is one of the most corrosive and destructive ideologies in our modern social culture.  Scientism erroneously contributes to the post-modern relativism regarding truth, which attempts to reduce all of the things we know to be true, down to the narrowly limited database of only those things that can be demonstrated as true through hard-science alone.

            This then downgrades everything else asserted to be true to the relative opinions of my truth or your truth, neither one being able to rise to the standard of repetitive laboratory testing for truth as defined by scientism, including all philosophical assumptions.

            Because the fundamental underlying assumptions that form the basis for all scientific research are philosophical in nature, and therefore cannot meet the standard of verification through the hard sciences, the narrow worldview philosophy of scientism ironically undermines by definition the very foundational assumptions of science itself.

            This narrowly crafted approach to categorizing genuine knowledge would also reduce the obvious existence of well-defined, discretionary choice-making down into the inconsequential category of scientifically unsupportable data… not amenable to being quantified or tested physically in a laboratory.

            Scientism is therefore a logically incoherent philosophical program that dissolves itself by being self-refuting, and by undermining the very edifice of the science it purports to defend.

            The irony here is that the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural living and non-living world point towards the need for intelligent agency.

            The skeletal explanatory frameworks that define the distinctive essences of these systems of information are similar in character to the four basic assumptions underlying science listed above…being abstract, intangible, philosophical realities needed to conduct science.

            A reasonable argument could be made that if scientific materialism insists upon excluding intelligent agency based upon the abstract nature of some of the implications of its findings…then much of science should also be abandoned because the scientific method itself relies upon informational assumptions that are abstract and intangible…assumptions that are conceptually philosophical in nature.


[1] Paraphrased from the DVD Darwin’s Dilemma (2009), by Illustra Media, from the Bonus DVD Features of Questions and Answers, the topic of constrained optimization discussed by Jay Richards.

[2] https://www.biola.edu/blogs/think-biblically/2018/science-and-faith-in-a-secular-society

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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