Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Scientific Age and Scientism

In the year 2015 the Israeli historian Yuval Harari who wrote: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, was translated into Korean and continues to be a best seller.

A Jesuit researcher in the relationship of science and religion at Sogang University, in an article in the Kyeongyang magazine, gives the readers the place of 'scientism' in our present world.

He takes a paragraph from the book and introduces it to the readers. "According to biology humans were not only not created but they were endowed with nothing from the 'creator'. Existence is only a meaningless evolutionary process. Individuals have been born into existence without purpose. From the creator we were endowed should be translated merely as born."

How can a historian not a scientist speak such words with confidence? And how can the readers of these words accept them as written?

Science explores the world and nature through the many kinds of rational inferences that exist in the world. Through its search, it has influenced our lives and thinking in many ways. It is precisely this influence that Yuval Harari presents to his readers.

From the beginning, natural science to be more exact natural philosophy, began with religion. Our ancestors looking at the night sky, the gleaming ocean of stars, the majesty of the sunset and sunrise were overcome with awe which gave birth both to religion and natural science. "Since through the grandeur and the beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author" (Wisdom 13:5).

In response to the beauty of creation, we have the birth of twins: a religion which in awe began to ask who was the creator and the other twin began to ask from the same awe, its nature, and order and pursued its study.

However, sadly in the 18th century from the time of the enlightenment, atheism and the movement against religion arose.

In France, we can easily see the movement against religion. During the French Revolution (1787-1799) all the Carthusian monasteries were closed and property confiscated. This continued under the reign of Napoleon only five monasteries continued to exist. In Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland we have the same.

During this period against religion, the scientists raised questions and doubts about the unseen world: God, angels, soul, and the church's teaching. With the rise of science, we have very naturally the importance of the material and the spiritual was ignored and opposed.

Since this has been the situation for hundreds of years it is now understood by many that Science and Religion can not exist together. For some of the leaders of this movement, God doesn't only not exist he is not needed. With mockery, they confidently express their opinion.

Many ordinary citizens sympathize and support this position and foresee shortly that all will be answered by science. In the 21st century, we see this antipathy towards religion because religion is seen as superstition and needed by the weak members of society.

Can science answer all our questions? Scientism says yes, and sees the teachings of religion as fabrications and delusions.

Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion is a good example of this thinking. Most of the natural scientist in the world today are atheists. This scientism is not something that we can dismiss off-hand for it is influencing our society.

We can see this, not only in the young who were brought up as Catholics but in the other religious communities with the decrease of young people participating in religious life.

Does science succeed in giving answers to all our questions? Does religion in this world environment still have meaning? As Christians in this scientific world in which we live, we must understand what is going on, accurately identify the problems, and have answers.

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