Sunday, March 28, 2010


Back when I was delusional, or in other words, when I was a christian, I was an opponent of evolution. Consequently I was an opponent of Scientism. A good way to get an overview of Scientism is to watch Carl Sagan's Cosmos series. In this series he makes a very profound statement, "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be." Some take that to be a statement promoting Scientism.

Now when I first saw Cosmos, I was 15 and I was not an atheist and I was aware that Sagan was. But I was also an astronomy maniac and I therefore could not resist watching Sagan's mostly very excellent series. It bogs down here and there that is true and is now a little dated but I would still recommend it as a good introduction to astronomy and science in general. And of course it is also a good way as I mentioned before to get a good idea of Sagan's philosophical views which I suspect very strongly are derived from his understanding of science. It is Scientism if you will. Or at least that is what his typically religious opponents have accused him of advocating in his famous series.

Now it is not my purpose here to necessarily defend Scientism as an ultimately correct worldview system. But I am going to point out something that I would like to defend about it and that is that it is vastly superior to the world view system that it is most commonly contrasted with, and that is the christian worldview.

So what does the christian worldview teach? Well, to put it very briefly, it teaches that we are all descended from an original pair of humans, Adam and Eve, who were created by God and put in a garden that also contained a talking snake and a magical tree that bore fruit that could impart knowledge to you, if eaten. This snake convinced Eve to eat the fruit, which was forbidden of course, and she in consequence learned all sorts of nasty things, the first of which it seems was that she was naked. Adam also fell victim to this and as a result all of mankind is now corrupt and bound for hell. But God in his infinite wisdom sent his son to die and if you accept him as your savior you will not burn in hell forever, but instead be in paradise for the same length of time. Everyone else is screwed.

Now this story raises of course all kinds of very interesting questions. But really don't bother. Either you are going to believe this nonsense or not and subjecting it to endless speculation is futile. I mean we are talking about "talking" snakes for crying out loud! I use this phrase when debating christians as much as possible, it typically drives them crazy, because it sounds so obviously ridiculous.

And what is the objective evidence for this story? Well really there is none, unless you count the bible. But then that is really a huge problem because this story (which is contained in the first book, Genesis) is so clearly mythical it seems ludicrous to even point it out. But the problem is that millions of people, are as children, taught this story as fact in churches and homes all over the world and they are raised in a sub-culture that speaks of the story constantly as if it were a historical fact and so when they grow up they pass this on to their children. I myself was a victim of this indoctrination, this brainwashing if you will.

Now when someone who believes that talking snakes and magical fruit are real comes into contact with scientific theories about the origins of life and the age of the earth, etc., it hits them right between the eyes, obviously because it is a contradiction, pure and simple. I mean let's just be perfectly honest about this. I feel perfectly qualified to state this because I used to be a card carrying creationist and I new damn good and well that if evolution is true then christianity is a lie. And that is why I fought so hard not to believe it.

But unfortunately there are christians who attempt to have their cake and eat it too, and so they go to great lengths to somehow harmonize the theory of evolution and christianity. I am quite familiar with these efforts and some of them are quite creative and even I would say heroic but I do really believe in the end all quite futile.

Now there was one book in particular that I read when I was a christian and struggling with things like the age of the earth. And this particular book was saying that the creationists and Carl Sagan were both wrong. That is the creationists were wrong for denying the scientific truths of evolution and geology and Carl Sagan was wrong for taking these teachings of science too far and developing a world view, which they called Scientism, out of them. The authors of this book were christians of course. They were of the aforementioned wanting to have their cake and eat it too type.

Now that I look back, I can see clearly that this books' ultimate point was a load of dingos kidneys. (Thank you Douglas Adams for that one.) Because I know for a fact that if you embrace the modern scientific understanding of the origin of man then you know that there was never any point in time when we "became" human. There was never any time when there was a "perfection" of any kind from which we fell. And there was certainly never any original pair! And since these are vital components of christian doctrine and no less than Paul the apostle says so himself, then christianity is automatically false and that is the end of it. Period.

Consequently the entire christian worldview system is false and intellectually bankrupt and therefore completely useless. Well maybe not completely useless, I guess you could use it as an example of what not to do when constructing a world-view system.

Now the methods of science are, I believe, quite distinct from a world view system, at least the parts that we are concerned about when we are looking at world views like christianity. It is true that you have to assume certain things about the world when practicing the scientific method, but that is not the kinds of views of the world I am talking about here.

So even if Scientism is a flawed world view, and I will leave that for someone else to figure out, it is based on science. And therefore at least it has the virtue of being based on evidence, at least indirectly. Which is much more than what christianity is based on which is, I suppose, pretty much just faith. And faith, as we know, is believing in something even when you don't have the slightest objective evidence for it.

And so I would like to exalt "Reason" therefore as that most excellent mental process that makes science possible and also as such is an automatic enemy to faith. Christians such as Martin Luther knew this full well and therefore said things like: "Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God." I mean what could be more clear than that! And this is from a guy that is one of the heroes of the modern evangelical protestant movement and creationists in particular.

So whatever its flaws, I will take Scientism over christianity any day and look forward to the day when christianity is permanently cast into the dunghill of very bad ideas where it quite rightly belongs.

And also if I were going to be stranded on a desert island and had to choose, I would of course take Carl Sagan's Cosmos over the bible. That is not even a contest right there.

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