Revisiting the case against science

A Blog From Hell considers the case against science I presented in a column a few weeks ago:

Just what meaning of “science” is Vox Day talking about? There is no one meaning to this word “science,” especially when coming out of the mouth of a Christian libertarian who writes for World Net Daily. Science is knowledge gained by testing ideas against reality. Is Vox Day really against that? Or will the meaning of science shift through a half dozen shades of meaning and metaphors?

I’m perfectly aware of the multiple meanings of the word science, which is why, with Dr. PZ Myer’s assistance, I coined the words scientage, scientistry and scientody to differentiate between science as body of knowledge, science as profession and science as method. I note with some amusement that atheists and scientists never seem to get their panties in a bunch about precisely what science they are talking about when they accuse Christians or Republicans or whoever of making war against it.

Is he talking about the anti-capitalist, anti-libertarian Soviet Union who beat us into space and started a space race that got us investing more government money in science and inspiring President Kennedy to announce the goal of landing a man on the Moon?

Yes, that Soviet Union. If ABFH really wants to get into a debate about whether the religious, capitalist West was more technologically advanced than the atheist, Communist Soviet Union prior to its unlamented expiration, that’s just fine with me. I propose that we settle the matter by a car race… I’ll drive my GT3, ABFH can get behind the wheel of the final word in Soviet automotive technology, the Volga GAZ-24.

I note that the USA finished that space race by getting to the Moon … and the Soviet Union fell apart before they managed to do likewise.

I thought Robert Noyce, who invented the silicon chip, was a physics major at Grinnell College as well as an electrical engineer. Isn’t physics science?

Science, invention and business are far more intertwined than Vox Day wants you to believe. Technological change and the underlying body of growing scientific knowledge upon which it draws are so deeply interconnected that it’s impossible to draw such clear lines between them and Vox Day’s notions of a clear separation don’t even qualify for the 17th century.

They may not even qualify for Archimedes, an ancient Greek who did pure science and invention before Christianity was born.

And once again, we’re back to defining engineers as scientists when it suits the defenders of science and denying that they’re scientists when it doesn’t. Which is it? Pick one, I don’t care which. Just keep in mind that the broader the definition of science, the more damning it is regarding science’s responsibility for causing war, death and destruction.

And I’m perfectly aware of this crossover, which is why I customarily address Dr. PZ Myers and Dr. Richard Dawkins as my fellow scientists. Here’s the choice: you can either grant me my recognition as a scientist in good standing or admit that technological development is not science.

Is this the “science” that Vox Day objects to? He’s certainly proved he doesn’t understand it.

Now watch him shift definitions:

Sciencists (those who believe in science as a basis for dictating human behavior, as opposed to scientists, who merely engage in the method),…

Excuse me? Did the definition of science just shift? And what scientist is dictating human behavior? Where does that even come from? Is this behavior we’re dictating merely our objecting to having restraints on stem cell research or something? Are Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett forcing Vox Day to become an atheist?

ABFH is having some problems with reading comprehension here. The definition of science did not shift, I was distinguishing between genuine professional scientists who practice scientody and contribute to scientage as opposed to those individuals like Sam Harris who neither contributes to the body of knowledge, works as a professional scientist nor makes use of the scientific method but nevertheless advocates the use of scientody as a basis for dictating what humans are allowed to do and believe.

For example, Richard Dawkins has stated his belief that religion is child abuse. There are laws against child abuse. So, either Richard Dawkins supports the legalization of child abuse or he believes that religious parents should be prosecuted for the crime of raising their children with religious beliefs. His advocacy is a clear attempt to dictate – use government force – to modify human behavior.

So, what exactly is the choice here? To move forward and learn what kind of universe we live in or to run away from scientific knowledge and live in stagnation until those societies that aren’t afraid of scientific truth decide we’ll make great cattle? I guess Vox Day would rather be an Eloi than a Morlock.

According to Sam Harris and other atheists, humanity is at dire risk of extinction. The causes of those risks, be they anthropogenic global warming or nuclear weapons, can be directly traced to science. It is obviously not religion that poses these deadly dangers; eliminating all religion from the planet would only reduce the total risk of war by approximately 7 percent, and would not reduce the risk of global warming at all. Therefore, if these dangers are to be taken seriously, then it is clear that it is the very concepts of science as body of knowledge and science as method which must be reconsidered and potentially rejected as a lethal threat to humanity, not religion.