Scientism and creationism

Scientism asserts the superiority of natural science over all other sciences, disciplines, or teachings. Mikael Stenmark proposed the expression scientific expansionism as a synonym for scientism. That’s a good suggestion because scientism is essentially a boundary-breaker. Scientism says that science is superior wherever it goes and it goes anywhere it wants. (That’s analogous to the word statism — the assertion that the state is sovereign wherever it goes and it goes wherever it wants — which is off-topic except for the ways scientism and statism work hand-in-hand.)

My assertion is that evolution and deep time depend on scientism. Deep time undermines the disciplines of history and archaeology by jumping behind them to assert knowledge of a prior temporality. Geologists and biologists should allow archaeologists and historians to take the lead on deep time. Some of this did happen in the 19th century (see Man Among the Mammoths) but the archaeologists and historians lost control of deep time to the geologists and biologists.

It’s ironic that the theologian-philosopher William Paley’s book Natural Theology is considered the foil for Darwin’s Origin of Species. Natural theology and natural science are two different disciplines. Many scientists today assert that science cannot talk about God but apparently science can talk against God. The main point I would make is that scientism allows scientists to dictate to theologians and philosophers (and artists) what nature is. A theology or philosophy of nature is disallowed by scientism. (That is one reason why today there is philosophy of science but no longer philosophy of nature.)

The mainstream scientific associations are scientistic, though they try to do so without alienating the public. They oppose limits to the domain of science — even the oft-stated limit of separation from religion or values does not limit what naturalistic explanations are allowed to replace.

Because of the above the main opponent of creationism is scientism. Fortunately, many people with various views are critical of scientism. So creationists should built on anti-scientism to make a place in public discussions for creationism.

September 2014