Remember the Good Old Days when religious institutions like the Inquisition were in control of everything? Sure you do. That’s why there were events like the Galileo affair in 1633 and the trial of Giordano Bruno in 1600 — after which he was burned at the stake for his heresy. According to Wikipedia, in addition to his other heresies:
[Bruno] proposed that the stars were just distant suns surrounded by their own exoplanets and raised the possibility that these planets could even foster life of their own (a philosophical position known as cosmic pluralism). He also insisted that the universe is in fact infinite and could have no celestial body at its “center”.
We no longer live under that kind of tyranny — at least in the Western world — but there are those among us who long for a return to those times, when science will once again be carefully controlled — presumably by those who now despise it. We can see that clearly at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog in their latest post: Has Science’s Freedom Become Its Downfall? It was written by Sarah Chaffee (whom we call “Savvy Sarah”). Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Writing in The New Atlantis, Daniel Sarewitz has a lengthy essay on why science, “pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble.” He argues that science, rather than being disconnected from practical purposes, is most effective when it has a goal. Sarewitz cites Department of Defense projects as examples, and notes the recent reproducibility crisis as a sign of failure.
She’s talking about this: Saving Science. Sarewitz is described as:
a professor of science and society at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation and Society, and the co-director of the university’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes. He is also the co-editor of Issues in Science and Technology and a regular columnist for the journal Nature.
Sarewitz’s essay is a bit strange and we disagree with his conclusions, but Savvy Sarah is enchanted. She says:
It is time to realize that science doesn’t belong on a pedestal — it is a human endeavor. Respecting science is one thing, and all to the good. Kowtowing to it is a different matter, as we see clearly in the area of origins science, where the neo-Darwinist view is typically treated as the only option.
Sarewitz didn’t mention origins science or alternatives to the theory of evolution. Whatever motivates him, it isn’t creationism. That doesn’t matter to Savvy Sarah because she’s on a mission. She talks about what she imagines is a big problem with the evolution of the eye and tells us:
We’ve discussed before the idea that sight is irreducibly complex [Hee hee!] — it could not have been built up by a step-by-step process. Neo-Darwinism is treated as if it were exempt from critical consideration. Under scientism [Hee hee!], methodological naturalism excludes the consideration of rational alternatives.
Yes — methodological naturalism excludes consideration of supernatural causes — like the Discoveroids’ transcendental designer — blessed be he! — who allegedly created the universe. How could it be otherwise? The methods of science cannot explore that which is, by definition, unobservable and outside of the laws of nature. No matter. Savvy Sarah then cites an authority for her position — something written by Discoveroid Douglas Axe. We’ll ignore that.
Near the end, she returns to the Sarewitz essay:
“Science is trapped in a self-destructive vortex,” Sarewitz observes. “[T]o escape, it will have to abdicate its protected political status and embrace both its limits and its accountability to the rest of society.”
That’s what he said, but we doubt that he was thinking of elevating creationists to a position of control. Savvy Sarah finishes with this:
He’s right. Ironically, perhaps, it is by defining the limitations of science that we spur its advancement.
Sarewitz might respond to what we see as a misuse of his essay, but we won’t be watching for that because it doesn’t matter. He brought this on himself, and now he’ll have to live with it.
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