Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Does Science Suck the Meaning Out of Life? II

The Scientific Worldview Presented in its Bleakest Form:
   "We wished to awaken the feeling of man's sovereignty by showing his divine birth; this path is now forbidden, since a monkey stands at the entrance (Friedrich Nietzsche)." Perhaps the most controversial idea in science is the theory of evolution. Man, according to Darwin, has ascended from lower lifeforms including, yes, an ape-like creature. Our origins go back to the simplest of organisms. I remember one man being utterly bewildered and disgusted at the idea that we came from a "tadpole." Evolution just does not sit well with many people. It doesn't help that the time line contrasts with certain creation stories and that-while not eliminating the possibility of a God-it certainly redefines the role of a Creator.
    Evolution posits that the universe is very old, and that mankind is very young-just a speck in time.  The medieval church was willing to kill over the belief that the earth is the center of the universe. However, the discoveries in astronomy demonstrate that the earth (and man) is just a speck in space as well. This littleness is not exactly good for the ego.
   What's more, science seems to discredit the notion of a "soul." Man, along with everything else, is but a conglomeration of molecultes. Our thoughts and feelings appear to be nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain. What makes you "you" is simply the material contents of your brain. Returning to Sarte's quote, man is "a set of pre-determined reactions, in no way different from the patterns of qualities and phenomena which constitute a table, or a chair, or a stone." This does not leave much room for the notion of human freedom. Considering that man is not inherently different from animals-or all other matter-damage is once again done to the ego.
   If all that isn't enough, science has also stormed the gates of heaven, i.e. taken from us the hope of another life. Once the brain stops, existence ends. This is it, science seems to indicate.
   The list could go on, I'm sure. I've just hit the highlights. And I didn't even touch the nefarious ways in which science has been put to use: certain technologies have resulted in the destruction of man and nature. Is there anything good about science? How could we possibly defend it? Let us consider an opposing perspective.

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