Science and Magic

If you know me, you know that I love science.

As best I can remember, this love of science began in elementary school, when the teacher burned a strip of magnesium metal. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to be a chemist.

(That may seem odd, because chemists don't usually try to cause fires. But here's the lesson for teachers: if you want a child to be interested in science, don't stress over standards and definitions. You just have to do something that makes them say, "Wow!" That's it.)

Suddenly, my mind was inclined to all things science. My worldview was shaped by materialism and pragmatism. Therefore, any thoughts about God and Jesus and religion were immediately met with my inner voice screaming, "That's all just stories. I need evidence."

You can read more about my journey from atheism to faith in Remembering My Salvation. But let's get back to the topic of science. . . .

CS Lewis and Scientism

I first read C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) when I was in middle school, long before I was a follower of Jesus Christ. I enjoyed that series immensely, as pure entertainment. But when I re-read those books in college, after I became a Christian, I saw them on a whole different level. That's a testimony to Lewis' ability to connect with a variety of mindsets.

I recently watched the documentary The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism. Scientism is effort to use the methods of science to explain and control every part of human life. It states that the bar of science is the standard by which every human discipline should be measured.

Scientism is not the same as science. Justin Taylor notes that under scientism "science (a good thing) can be twisted in order to attack religion, undermine ethics, and limit human freedom."

The Twins of Science and Magic

Lewis considered science and magic to be twins:
  1. Both attempt to give MEANING to life. Therefore, they both have the ability to function as religion.
  2. Both encourage a LACK OF SKEPTICISM, by telling you to trust the "experts." Numerous psychology and sociology studies have shown that "people will believe almost anything if it's dressed up in the name of science." (See the Milgram Experiment, for example.)
  3. Both involved a quest for POWER, as they involve a desire to control our world.

If you are interested in science and philosophy, I encourage you to watch the entire video. But you can at least skip ahead to learn more about:
  • Scientocracy (22:46), a society that claims to be based on science, but is actually ruled by a certain clique of people, who claim a right to rule based on their scientific expertise.
  • Governmental tyranny (27:51). "I dread government in the name of science. That is how tyrannies come it." 

Where I Stand

Now that I come to faith, some have accused me of being anti-science. Again, if you know me, you know that that is not the case.

I love science, and I want others to love it and explore it, too. It's my job, after all, and I enjoy exploring science with my own children.

But we cannot get sucked into the circular logic that claims, "If science can't prove it, then can't know that it's real." Neither science nor magic can rightly claim to give all of life's meaning, truth, and power.

Stuart Firestein reminds us that it's not like there is a finite set of truths (in our perspective). Everything we learn about the universe only shows how much more we don't know. And science cannot claim to give us all those answers.

“In an honest search for knowledge you quite often have to abide by ignorance for an indefinite period.” -- Erwin Schrodinger

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