Scientific Puritans Aren’t Helping

All too often, superstitious thinkers have stood in the way of meaningful scientific innovation, and they still do. This is terrible given the serious theoretical and technical challenges we face. Fortunately, history shows that most major scientific discoveries that promised to serve humanity especially well were adopted despite fierce resistance from despotic religious interests.

Ironically, now an unsettling number of materialists have become scientific Puritans. They assume that anything beyond the measurables with which they experiment and the consequent results don’t exist. At the same time, they’re unwilling to admit their limited range of knowledge while arrogantly assuming that their thin information base shouldn’t be challenged. In truth, they should be embarrassed that they can account for only 4% of the universe. 96% is dark matter and dark energy, yet they don’t even know what either of them is.

This anti-scientific tribe of scientists needs to take a closer look at how dominant cultural influences change and acknowledge that they, too, are participating in a flexible, ever-changing process. Religion was once the most powerful defining force. Then philosophy sprang from religion, gained a foothold in human consciousness, and evolved. Natural science grew out of philosophy and gained prominence. In a subdivision of this, alchemy became chemistry. Astrology became astronomy, metaphysics became physics, demonology became psychology, numerology became mathematics, and so on.

In each case, people were trying to move from subjective to objective models, which is fundamentally good. It was necessary to remove overly subjective thinking in order to make progress through rational means. Unfortunately, abnegating subjectivity altogether limits one’s ability to think imaginatively and can even breed incorrect results due to an unwillingness to examine potentially correct albeit unpopular alternative possibilities. What we see through a telescope or microscope only hints at what is really happening.

Tomorrow’s physics will seem magical to some of our generation’s better minds. This is always the case. In fact, people studying 22nd century physics will look back on our physics and wonder how in the world we could, in some cases, have held such primitive, naive notions. Researchers shouldn’t be dwelling on questions like, “Why would anyone think intergalactic travel is possible, much less likely, given our current limitations?” They should be asking, “Why can’t we teleport? How can we harness zero point energy? How can we turn theory into application as soon as possible? What must we do to make this happen? What don’t we understand right now?” Were Giordano Bruno alive today, he would probably agree.