(This is the second half of an article originally published in The Banner, April 23, 2001, pp. 24-26. For the first half, see here.)
One morning I was watching TV with my 2-year-old daughter. A skit in a children’s show taught, “Science always saves the day!” That is scientism in a nutshell. Science is elevated to the role of Savior. Remember our “Star Trek” hero Mr. Spock? He was a science officer.
Modernism has a strong faith in the ability of science and technology to save the day. As in “Star Trek,” science is seen as the means to solve all the world’s evils. By means of the scientific method, we can gain the right knowledge and understanding of how something works and why things go wrong and come up with solutions for it.
We have applied the scientific method to all areas of study. In literary studies, for instance, interpreting a work of literature has turned into a science [in the late 1960s]. To properly analyze a text, we must read it in a detached and objective manner. We must leave our own values behind, and we cannot judge the text’s values as right or wrong. Like scientists, literary scholars should not make ethical judgments but merely seek to discover and present the facts. These days, however, we acknowledge that we cannot leave our values behind even if we want to. And ethical considerations are now OK in literary studies. Continue reading “What’s Wrong with Modernism? Part 2”→
This post is originally published at BioLogos.org. You can view it here. Re-posted here with permission.
People tend to think of metaphors as simple poetic word plays to adorn or illustrate otherwise dull text. Positively, one might think of metaphors as useful for illuminating existing truths. Few, however, see them as indispensable to how we think and, hence, of how we arrive at truth.
Cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson once remarked, “There are few things as toxic as a bad metaphor. You can’t think without metaphors.”1
Cognitive linguist George Lakoff agrees: “A large proportion of our most commonplace thoughts make use of an extensive, but unconscious, system of metaphorical concepts, that is, concepts from a typically concrete realm of thought that are used to comprehend another, completely different domain. Such concepts are often reflected in everyday language, but their most dramatic effect comes in ordinary reasoning.2 ”In other words, a whole network of conceptual metaphors operates in our everyday language, often unnoticed, to support all our abstract and theoretical thinking. So, if we think in metaphors, then the kind of metaphors we use can shape our conclusions, or at the very least, the direction of our reasoning.
In our society’s popular mindset, religion and science are at war with each other. Often, people see faith as connected to emotions and values, while science is connected to evidence and truth. And, furthermore, people link religion with theism and science with atheism.
So, what we have in popular mindset is a war between theism, religion, faith and emotions on one hand, and atheism, science, reason and evidence on the other hand, as the table below shows. And science is seen as leading us to truth while religion is only leading us to values, at best or delusions, at worst.
I think this popular mindset is inaccurate. I want to go down these two columns in the table and talk a bit about: 1) Theism and Atheism, 2) Religion and Science, 3) Faith and Reason. In summary, I want to suggest that only theism and atheism are incompatible but religion and science are complementary to each other, and faith and reason are both necessary for us to find truth.