In 200 short years we've gone from mad-scientist Dr Frankenstein to beloved-scientist Dr Oz. Frankenstein was playing dangerous games with the gods and suffered the tragic consequences. On the other hand, Dr Oz is America's new scientist darling. As a matter of fact, these days most scientists are darlings to the hearts and minds of most Americans. Why is this...? And how good is this....?
From our earliest days in tribes and villages, the witch doctor has always had a special fascination for us. After all, these are those among us who can render amazing cures, feats and predictions. However, today's scientists have reached to the very top of our pantheon, for they are those among us who can almost magically produce not only great cures and feats, but also great inventions and technologies.
Notice how in ads and commercials the scientific-looking folks in the white laboratory jackets are strategically used to convey authority. "Scientists say... ," "Science reports...," and "The latest scientific research shows...." are the great Open Sesames to our minds and pocketbooks. With these words, everything that follows takes on special authority. I mean, if science says so....well it must be so!
Here's my problem.
No one can argue with the accomplishments of modern science, especially in the fields of medicine, travel and communication. We live in an age of remarkable good health and technical creativity. However, there have been unintended consequences. [That's the dark side to every sunny chapter in the novel of humanity which we hate to come across, but come across we do].
And so it is that the same world of science that saves lives helped speed up their destruction in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany....the same scientists who discovered the power of the atom for cures also made possible the power of the atom for weaponry...the same scientists who build planes can build missiles, who formulate medicine can formulate drugs, who can study the wonders of the cosmos can dismiss the possibility the cosmos has a creator.
It's this last arrogance which troubles me. Like the chess champ or quarterback who never loses, have we bred a generation of scientists too arrogant to believe anyone but they can understand our existence? That others -- from theologians to philosophers to the guys at the local VFW -- can ever really know what science knows?
The same holy books scientists tend to dismiss is where you will read this warning: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall."
Filed under: Uncategorized