I’ve been talking about the Sun of your belief system, about what organizes and illuminates everything in your life. In my previous blog, I mentioned that many these days, some without realizing it, have placed Science in the center of their belief system.
This is not unreasonable on the face of it. Science has benefited us in many ways. And it seems to be utterly reliable. Laws of gravity, conservation of matter, action and reaction all work, and work all the time. There aren’t many things that even appear to work all the time. So science makes a plausible Sun.
Of course, another way of saying that is saying that Science makes a plausible God. It’s easy to believe we can trust science to save our lives, to enrich our living, for in many ways it does.
There are, however, two major problems–at least–with Science as Sun. One is that Science is always changing. Two hundred years ago, doctors bled patients with fever; now it would be malpractice. For a long time, scientists believed that humans had 48 chromosomes; now the number is considered to be 46.
Some will protest that science is self-correcting, and to some degree that is true. But science is practiced by human beings, people who have reputations, careers, and pride at stake. Sometimes science takes a long time to correct. In the meantime, it may lead us astray in crucial ways. In simple terms, science is not as reliable as we like to think it is. It makes a wobbly sun. And a wobbly sun can play havoc with those depending on it.
The second major problem with science is that it deals with what can be measured and observed. But not all things can be.
Love, despair, beauty, harmony, justice, mercy, compassion, longing–important features of being human, do not lend themselves to scientific evaluation. Science can’t be the Sun, according to our definition, because we cannot see all things by it.
The third major problem with placing Science at the center of your belief and value system is that it can never answer the questions that matter most, questions of “Why?” Why is there suffering? Why do some live carelessly and thrive, while others live prudently and die young or suffer? Why does one person make a mistake which does no harm, yet when someone else makes the same mistake it proves fatal? Why am I here?
We could go on forever, but you get the idea. Science can do many things; but the things it cannot do for us are central to our existence. Science cannot be our Sun.