‘Scientism’ infects Darwinian debates
An unflinching belief that science can explain everything about evolution becomes its own ideology
Douglas Todd - April 4, 2009
There are two major obstacles to a rich public discussion on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and what it means to all of us.
The most obvious obstacle is religious literalism, which leads to Creationism. It’s the belief the Bible or other ancient sacred texts offer the first and last word on how humans came into existence.
The second major barrier to a rewarding public conversation about the impact of evolution on the way we understand the world is not named nearly as much.
Scientism is the belief that the sciences have no boundaries and will, in the end, be able to explain everything in the universe. Scientism can, like religious literalism, become its own ideology.
The Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics defines scientism as “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of natural science to be applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities).”
Those who unknowingly fall into the trap of scientism act as if hard science is the only way of knowing reality. If something can’t be “proved” through the scientific method, through observable and measurable evidence, they say it’s irrelevant.