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Here’s What Happens When You Eliminate Science’s Spiritual Foundations

David Klinghoffer

John Zmirak at The Stream nails it in comments on our colleague Richard Weikart’s book The Death of Humanity. As Zmirak observes, science depends on certain “pre-philosophic” axioms, having to do with the universe and its underlying transcendent “rational structure,” that derive not from science but from elsewhere:

None of these assertions about reality were the fruit of intellectuals brooding about the nature of the universe. Instead, they are the lessons the Jewish people took from God’s revelation to them, spread out through their history and recorded in the Old Testament. Their message is so much more hopeful than anything offered by any pagan philosophy, that by the time of Christ there were thousands of gentile converts to Judaism all over the Roman world — and many more who were deeply attracted to the Jewish revelation, but unable to commit to circumcision, and other rigors of Jewish law. These were the men and women to whom St. Paul opened the door when he championed the cause of gentile converts to Christianity, and convinced the other apostles to let them join the Church without first becoming Jews.

These statements cannot be proven like mathematical theorems. They are what Jacques Maritain called “pre-philosophy,” and in thought about the cosmos they serve the same role as axioms in mathematics. If you accept them, a whole world of new thought and understanding suddenly becomes possible. Reject one or more of them, and you will end up sooner or later in a hopeless cul-de-sac.

Eliminate these spiritual foundations of science, and what should we expect as the result?

In his profound new book The Death of Humanity, Richard Weikart documents how self-appointed spokesmen for “Science” such as “New Atheist” Richard Dawkins — and thousands who follow his lead — reject the idea of objective morality, free will, and the meaningfulness of life. Instead they blithely insist that everything — every single thing — in human nature can be traced to natural selection and blind variation. Religious impulses, altruism, friendship, love, even scientific curiosity, must all be explained away as the purposeless side-effects of mutations.

Human consciousness itself is a purely chemical, deterministic process entirely driven by the firing of neurons in the brain — which means that it is impossible to describe knowledge as objective, or any statement as really “true.”

If science can survive such an assault, it’s only by existing in a parasitic relationship with religious ideas, a relationship that, however, is strenuously denied at every step. Yet the warnings of a coming irrationalism are hard to miss:

The death of humanity which Weikart describes will also be the death of science. We are already seeing state attorneys general trying to prosecute scientists who question the political orthodoxy of climate activists, federal regulations overriding the medical judgments of doctors treating “transgender” patients, and a dogmatic refusal on part of many well-educated people to admit that a human embryo is living or human, or that physical sex exists.

A few more decades of such irrationalism will undermine completely the foundations of research and truth-seeking in the sciences.

If this sounds needlessly dire to you, go back and watch the video at the top, which I’ve already brought to your attention (as have others), where University of Washington students insist that a thirty-something 5’9″ white guy may in fact be a seven-year-old 6’5″ Chinese woman.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.