Evolution Icon Evolution

Scientist as Shaman — Seeing Through the Sham


Ira Berkowitz is ID the Future’s Jerusalem correspondent. In a new podcast he talks with Rabbi Moshe Averick about the shamanistic role that our culture recruits scientists to fill. Think, for example, of the late Stephen Hawking and how his fevered pronouncements in his final years were received.

It’s a wonderful discussion. Averick is the author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused World of Modern Atheism. Be sure to listen to the end for an awesome story about a sage who foresaw, in the 1920s, how the choice between destructive modern technology and its alternative, the ancient project of teaching human beings to be humane, would play out in decades to come.

Download the podcast or listen to it here.

This exaggerated respect given to scientists in all matters, treating them as “high priests,” is obviously relevant to debates about biological origins. These debates often incorporate philosophical assumptions, not derived from scientific data, that in turn drive our understanding of what the data mean. 

It’s only because of the sham role of the scientist as “medicine man” that we don’t see these assumptions for what they are — including, as Evolution News mentioned earlier today, “the arbitrary rule of methodological naturalism.” Recognizing that arbitrariness is an important step toward deflating the power of such a rule, with its great potential to corrode human dignity.

Image: Sámi shaman, by O. H. von Lode [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.