Sunday, 14 May 2017

Bad Science

I am writing about the characteristics of good and bad science because I suspect we are living in a time of unprecedentedly bad science.  The sciences have lost their way and this has far reaching consequences.  More particularly there are many unsuspecting souls who are using the methodologies of bad science to prop up their world views and this is little more than a house of cards that is getting increasingly unsteady.  Why should we care? We should care because Theology is a science and Theology is a practical science: you have to engage with God to grow in understanding of God, you can't "do God" purely from the text books. It has always been my view that it isn't so much heresy that we are seeing in the Church in these challenging times, but bad science. To be a heretic is actually quite demanding and requires a level of determination and self-justification (and consistency of thought) that is simply not present in those culprits many would deem to be heretics.  Being bad at science is as easy as s**t off a shovel because being a good scientist is nearly impossible.

Science involves "first principles" and things not open to question.  There are things whose existence you have to buy into if you are going to study science and operations they can and can't undergo within prescribed boundary conditions.  The vista then opens up as levels of complexity are introduced, boundaries and variables altered, observations made and predictions of future behaviour accurately described or refuted. Science involves elegance and beauty.  Science is dispassionate.  Science reveals herself in the doing of science. Replace the word Science with the word Theology throughout this paragraph and you will see that Theology is a science.

Bad science is passionate.  Bad science is often painfully sincere. Bad science relies heavily on experts rather than on science.  Bad science gets emotional.  Bad science thinks it has the answers.  Bad science is rigid in the wrong ways and flexible in the wrong ways.  It is rigid in its belief that it has the correct methodology and all other methodologies (historically well founded)  are wrong.  It is rigid in its belief in progress.  It is rigid in its passionate belief that it is right. It goes down rabbit holes.  It takes itself too seriously.  It is flexible with those "first principles". It likes to destroy the past rather than build on it.  It is flexible in its ideas about the truth which it sees as a movable feast rather than an eternal, ever present reality that we simply see through a glass darkly.  It is very human centred and seeks to define who we are by the challenges we face in our understanding of science. The more challenges that are thrown at us, the more we adapt to juggling increasingly contradictory ideas, the more uncomfortable it gets, the better it is for us. Bad science sees humanity in a process of "synthesis".  Bad science loathes or simply doesn't get metaphysics.  Bad science does not know the history of science. Bad science is purely atomist and constructivist.

Good science keeps its "first principles", good science is not grand or full of end-times prophecies. Good science is light, elegant and beautiful. Good science remains dispassionate. Good science isn't trying to change the world, just delight in it.  Good science knows it can't change the world though like bad science it can have a dramatic effect on the way we think about things and how we act on them.  Good science knows no human "progress".  Good science knows its limits. Good science is often not exciting.  Good science can be very dull indeed ..........   And just perhaps these are things the Church Militant should keep in mind too.... because to some extent we are all scientists.

 If you are a theologian you truly pray. If you truly pray you are a theologian- Ponticus Evagrius

No comments: