Scientism is the belief that the scientific method has no (or few) limits and can successfully be applied to almost all aspects of life, and provides an explanation for everything. It is essentially a religion where its followers (Scientists) worship science its rituals, and its results.
Strict scientism as a worldview is self-refuting since the scientism cannot be proven to be true through science. For other significant problems with scientism as far as its unworkability, please see William Lane Craig's commentary on scientism entitled Is scientism self-refuting.
According to Discovery Institute scientism is an effort to use the methods of science to explain and control every part of human life, in other words, the misguided effort to apply science to areas outside its proper bounds. C.S. Lewis was sceptical and highly critical of scientism as an ideology which in his view was confused with science and which tried to reduce everything that we can learn scientifically to materialistic blind undirected causes. He argued that scientism has the dehumanizing impact on ethics, politics, faith, reason, and science itself.
Scientism and atheism
See also: Atheism and scientism
Scientism has generally had a close relationship with atheism, as atheism and scientism ideologically support each other. Followers of scientism do not believe in God and therefore use atheism as the base of their religion, and atheists use pseudoscience to support their claims, as well as evidence against God and the Bible.
Scientism and pseudoscience
Since Scientists have an agenda to use "science" to support their denial of God, their techniques usually rely on pseudoscience. For example, the claim to know that God exists, despite the fact that it is technically scientifically impossible to disprove anything (i.e. negative proofs are impossible). Despite this, they continue to deny the existence of God without any real scientific proof.
Science as a religion
Scientism is the religion of worshiping science as a source of explanations about the universe. It is based on their faith that science will provide answers because Scientists have a declared "objective" point of view.
Believers of Scientism deny the existence of God, and instead worship pseudoscientific methods. They seek to use what they claim to be as "science" to replace God as the source for infinite knowledge, and the foundation of society. Scientists generally think of themselves as being Gods while practicing their scientific rituals, because they think they are coming up with answers. However, they really just pretend that they are God to feel superior to the faithful.
Scientism is in essence a gnostic culture applied onto realms of science hence scientism can be often debunked by pointing to the gnostic traits. As such it also exhibits many characteristics of moral relativism. For example, moral relativism doesn't follow its own rules, the rules it judges everyone else by. Neither does scientism.
Vagueness and word-spinning
Gnostic works are marked by manipulative vagueness, word-spinning and tedium, so is scientism. On top of that, it usurps the right to be labeled as "modern," yet it is in many respects expressing merely modernized pagan beliefs under the fig leaf of "science," it is often meticulous in detail and yet bristling with contradictions and tendentious arguments, boldly imaginative and yet often already outdated. For example, the textbook legend of Hutton and Lyell, partisans of scientism, has been declared to be dim and confused compared with that of Copernicus and Galileo. Another proponent of scientism, Darwin, wrote books in a way that they were compared to a Victorian curiosity shop where the main message was somewhat lost in the clutter. A blatant example of word spinning can be found in the text describing the research interests of Alan Guth, the 1981 author of so-called inflation theory:
"Working with Prof. Edward Farhi and others, Guth has explored the question of whether it is in principle possible to ignite inflation in a hypothetical laboratory, thereby creating a new universe. The answer is a definite maybe. They showed that it cannot be done classically, but with quantum tunneling it might be theoretically possible. The new universe, if it can be created, would not endanger our own universe. Instead it would slip through a wormhole and rapidly disconnect completely."
Analysis of contradictions in the text:
- Ad. "the question of whether it is in principle possible to ignite inflation in a hypothetical laboratory, thereby creating a new universe." In hypothetical laboratory, anything is possible, because it rests solely on the imagination of the author of the idea and his bare assertion. Unlike science, scientism is based on just-so stories and bare assertion fallacy (also known as proof by assertion) and tries to shake off the burden of proof for its claims.
- If somebody something shows ("They showed that"), then the terms like "it might be theoretically possible" and conditional sentence "if it can be" become surplus. On the other hand, if it is not sure "if it can be" or not, then the expression "They showed" is clearly a lie.
- Ad. "The answer is a definite maybe." In fact, "a definite maybe" is not answer at all, it leaves question undecided, in the same status as before asking.
Ipse dixit camouflaged as "scientific consensus"
In his 1615 Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, Galileo complained about "academic philosophers" and "no small number of professors" who were opposing his novel discoveries just because these discoveries were in contradiction to the physical notions of the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic world system commonly held in academies of that time. Galileo portrays these academicians and professors as hurling various charges, publishing "numerous writings filled with vain arguments", and as "resolved to fabricate a shield for their fallacies out of the mantle of pretended religion and the authority of the Bible." This approach when wider scientific community refuses to accept scientific observation(s) or argument(s) with appeal to so called scientific consensus was further adopted in evolutionism and it can be classified as form of ipse dixit fallacy. It is another trait helpful in identifying scientism and distinguishing it from a science. For example, the typical usage can be demonstrated in claim: "NPR featured Wyler for being ex-gay and allowed him to testify about all the promise he believes reparative therapy offers to people not happy with their same-sex attractions, despite the fact that there is scientific consensus that ex-gay therapy is harmful and ineffective." Even if the militant gays do not like some people like ex-homosexuals who left the homosexual lifestyle, they cannot get rid of the physical notions of their existence just by spreading the numerous writings filled with vain arguments such as fallacious ipse dixit one (e.g. "there is scientific consensus that ex-gay therapy is harmful and ineffective") and by hurling various charges (e.g. "NPR featured Wyler for being ex-gay and allowed him to testify about all the promise he believes reparative therapy offers to people not happy with their same-sex attractions").
- Ashgate Science and Religion Series
- Is scientism self-refuting by William Lane Craig
- N/A. The Magician's Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society - Product Description. Discovery Institute Press. Retrieved on November 30, 2014. “Beloved for his Narnian tales for children and his books of Christian apologetics for adults, best-selling author C.S. Lewis also was a prophetic critic of the growing power of scientism in modern society, the misguided effort to apply science to areas outside its proper bounds. In this wide-ranging book of essays, contemporary writers probe Lewis's warnings about the dehumanizing impact of scientism on ethics, politics, faith, reason, and science itself. Issues explored include Lewis's views on bioethics, eugenics, evolution, intelligent design, and what he called "scientocracy."”
- The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case against Scientism 02min:20sec. DiscoveryInstitute (18 Nov 2012). Retrieved on 27-April-2013.
- Dawkins and the Public Understanding of Scientism by Peter S. Williams
- New Atheism - Faith and Reason, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- An Examination of Atheism’s Truth Claims by Robin Schumacher at CARM
- Ryan Dobson, Jefferson Scott (2007). Be Intolerant in Love: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid. Sisters, OR, USA: Tyndale House Publishers, 52. ISBN 978-1590-521526.
- Rhoda Rappaport (1997). When Geologists Where Historians, 1665-1750. Cornell University Press, 232. ISBN 978-0801-433863.
- D. R. Wallace (June 14, 1987). IT'S AN OLD, OLD , OLD, OLD WORLD. NYT. Retrieved on 7 June 2015. “Hutton's theory of the earth ... was not based on field observations but on his wishful, speculative confusion of geological process with Newtonian physics....Hutton and Lyell were dedicated not to modern notions of geological dynamism but to antique ones of geological steady-state...The textbook legend of Hutton and Lyell seems dim and confused compared with that of Copernicus and Galileo.”
- E.J. Larson (2006). Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. New York: Modern Library, 96. ISBN 0-8129-6849-2.
- Faculty Directory: Alan Guth, Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Physics. Retrieved on 03.03.2013.
- Galileo Galilei. Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, 1615 (Modern History Sourcebook). Fordham University. Retrieved on 16 Feb 2012.
- Zack Ford (3 Aug 2011). NPR’s Featured ‘Ex-Gay’ Guest Commits Over $200,000 To Dangerous, Unscientific Ex-Gay ‘Coachings’. ThinkProgress. Retrieved on 10 Dec 2017. “National Public Radio has yet to apologize for the platform it provided Rich Wyler on Monday to spout as many lies about sexual orientation as he could fit into the segment. NPR featured Wyler for being ex-gay and allowed him to testify about all the promise he believes reparative therapy offers to people not happy with their same-sex attractions, despite the fact that there is scientific consensus that ex-gay therapy is harmful and ineffective. But NPR made another big journalistic mistake besides its inappropriate framing of ex-gay therapy — the story neglected to mention that Wyler makes his entire living off of providing ex-gay therapy to vulnerable and insecure men he convinces to try to change.”
- Scientism (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary).
- Scientism (American Public Broadcasting Service).
- Scientism (Philosophy, etc.)
- The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case against Scientism Featured Video by Discovery Institute