Scientism and the Matrix

I’d like to draw your attention to an excellent article by Edward Feser who is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, CA. It is entitled Blinded by Scientism.

Feser begins by outlining scientism:

Scientism is the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge—that there is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science. There is at least a whiff of scientism in the thinking of those who dismiss ethical objections to cloning or embryonic stem cell research as inherently “anti-science.” There is considerably more than a whiff of it in the work of New Atheist writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who allege that because religion has no scientific foundation (or so they claim) it “therefore” has no rational foundation at all. It is evident even in secular conservative writers like John Derbyshire and Heather MacDonald, whose criticisms of their religious fellow right-wingers are only slightly less condescending than those of Dawkins and co. Indeed, the culture at large seems beholden to an inchoate scientism—“faith” is often pitted against “science” (even by those friendly to the former) as if “science” were synonymous with “reason.

Yes, people do commonly make that equation and yes, science is not synonymous with reason, as I clearly demonstrated here.  While Feser goes on to refute scientism from the perspective of a philosopher, I’ve been trying to draw your attention to the manner in which scientism has illegitimately skewed the whole question of design in life.

The first obvious point is to get people to realize that when I acknowledge The Design Matrix is not science, this is not some admission that The Design Matrix is pure irrational fantasy, rooted in faith, and completely without any evidential support.  On the contrary, there are now over 300+ substantive essays on this blog, in addition to the book itself,  that show my perspective is both reasonable and plausible. And no one has shown otherwise.

Second, pay attention to this part:

How are we to reconcile this commonsense “manifest image” of the world with the quantitative “scientific image” (to borrow philosopher Wilfrid Sellars’ famous distinction)? The answer is that they cannot be reconciled. Thus the commonsense, qualitative “manifest image” came to be regarded as a world of mere “appearance,” with the new quantitative “scientific image” alone conveying “reality.” The former would be re-defined as “subjective” – color, sound, heat, cold, meaning, purpose, and the like, as common sense understands them, exist in the mind alone. “Objective” reality, revealed by science and described in the language of mathematics, was held to comprise a world of colorless, soundless, meaningless particles in motion. Or rather, if color, temperature, sound and the like are to be regarded as existing in objective reality, they must be redefined – heat and cold reconceived in terms of molecular motion, color in terms of the reflecting of photons at certain wavelengths, sound in terms of compression waves, and so forth. What common sense means by “heat,” “cold,” “red,” “green,” “loud,” etc. – the way things feel, look, sound, and so forth in conscious experience – drops out as a mere projection of the mind. The new method thus ensured that the natural world as studied by science would be quantifiable, predictable, and controllable – precisely by redefining “science” so that nothing that did not fit the method would be allowed to count as “physical,” “material,” or “natural.” All recalcitrant phenomena would simply be “swept under the rug” of the mind, reinterpreted as part of the mental lens through which we perceive external reality rather than part of external reality itself.

It is my position that because detecting design is akin to detecting another mind, the place to perceive (“detect”) design must reside among the “manifest image” of the world.  I’ll try to explain this more clearly by walking through the four criteria of the Matrix. But if I am correct, then not only does it mean the Matrix can never rise to the level of science, it also means that science can never truly detect design, even if it exists.

One response to “Scientism and the Matrix

  1. Ahhh perhaps the question is can science ever rise to the level of the Matrix?

    If science is so limited that it cannot detect design even if it exists then perhaps it inhabits a level below where we should be.

    My point is that if design is real then science cannot deal with reality and therefor it is useless and even worse- misleading.

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