In David Berlinski’s book The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, the author attacks some of the sacred temples of science. He quotes the summary of science given by the National Science Foundation: “Science extends and enriches our lives, expands our imagination, and liberates us from the bonds of ignorance and superstition.”
This is a grand claim. Science, when it claims to exist purely and entirely within the bounds of naturalism, has no external context outside of pure naturalism. Yet in the statement above, pure science can cause subjective value changes such as enriching one’s life and expanding (and presumably stimulating) people’s imaginations. We must ask a few questions: What categories of science we must study to learn about enrichment and imagination? How can the measurement of facts and data cause this enrichment? Are there no external, non-scientific facts that are influencing the goals of science? It would seem that the atheist scientist is sneaking something very large into the side door without very many people realizing it.
Berlinski points out the following:
Why should a limited and finite organ such as the human brain have the power to see into the heart of matter or mathematics? These are subjects that have nothing to do with the Darwinian business of scrabbling up the greasy pole of life. It is as if the liver, in addition to producing bile, were to demonstrate a unexpected ability to play the violin. This is a question that Darwinian biology has not yet answered.
Berlinski then notes that the eleventh century philosopher Al-Ghazali recognized such problems well before the modern movement of atheists with attitudes on parade, before the so-called enlightenment or age of reason. The point made by Al-Ghazali was that the naturalists’ system is limited to what we understand about the world. Yet the human intellect is dependent on the body while our understanding of the body is dependent on the intellect, and all this in a purely physical and chemical world. Is not our understanding of the natural world limited by the natural world itself? How is the atheist scientist to get out of this circle into a realm of objective, non-brain dependent areas such as enrichment and imagination? Somehow the atheist scientist must start with a world of measuring quantity by observation and eventually get to the concepts of better and worse, and place them on a standard that is independent of anyone’s opinion. A very large set of values has been snuck in the side door.
To most of those in science, these are questions that do not fit into the world. The reason the atheist scientist does not ask them is not due to a preconceived determination to avoid such questions, but because the values attached to such things as enrichment and better and worse are so engrained into our world that they are just assumed to be true. Who would question the values of enrichment, imagination, better, and worse?
Yet these are the very concepts involved in religion, the very thing that the atheist scientist has set up to destroy with the code words “liberates us from the bonds of ignorance and superstition.”
The statement made by the National Science Foundation has the end of science being enrichment, expansion, and liberation. These are excellent goals and certainly we should support the advancement of them in the spirit that science intends. We should vote to increase these goals and not vote for ignorance and superstition. Science has helped to bring us all the comforts of modern technology. Yet these goals are not scientific concepts, not things that can be attained without the values that are introduced by something outside of science. The atheist Darwinian certainly has to do mental gymnastics to get them into a system purely filtered by survival. Science therefore is not a be-all, end-all system that answers all questions, but is rather a very valuable area of study that fits into a larger system that studies such things as enrichment, expansion, and liberation.
So we must conclude that the world of values exists. We also know that the values that Jesus introduced are still the best, those of putting God and others above yourself.