Is Science the new opiate of the “educated’ masses?
In our time, Science has generally replaced religion as the accepted means of understanding truth. Religion has been discredited in our secular world, not only as a means of finding truth. It is regularly vilified as a dogma that produces conflict, war, and the plundering of the planet. Religion is redefined as dogma that stagnates thought and impedes the advancement of mankind. In many “progressive” circles it is held as the source of all things evil. Science is the new religion of our time and applied technology (light bulbs, micro-wave ovens, i-phones, computers) its proof, our Bible.
It has been twenty years since the announcement of “cold fusion” at the University of Utah. MIT scientists and government researchers exaggerated its death and prematurely buried it. Now still unexplainable yet real experimentation results are exhuming this science from the grave. Immutable truth has a habit of haunting those who discount it for fun and profit.
Look beneath the surface. The serious inquirer discovers that imbedded within this drama are all the important questions about man’s search for truth, good versus evil, the corrupting politics of power and greed, human nature, faith and God. These two YouTube videos, Cold Fusion Suppressed Technology (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htgV7fNO-2k&feature=related ) and Cold Fusion – More Than Junk Science (60 Minutes, CBS News ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNn_Z6wCIk ) do address the scientific methodology as a proof of viability, but the important message is that beneath the methods, the sine qua non of any search for truth are motives, morals, integrity and values. Absent this, we see the same dogma stagnation, manipulation of the masses for profit and power and rape of natural resources that have been seen as the province of “organized religion”. Perhaps the new high priesthood of science based in government granted University research should be relabeled “organized science”.
But I digress. Is morality not the realm of spirituality and religion? I’m not speaking of the corrupted form of religion, manipulated by despots throughout time, but the religion of humble seekers of eternal truth. The questions for our age are,
- Absent moral purity, can science be trusted any more than religion?
- How can you tell if there Is underlying integrity?
And the answer just might be the modern maxim, “follow the money”. The increasingly cynical masses have come to trust the wisdom that money leads to power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. An unfortunate conclusion is that everything is corrupt, including religion, government, corporations, wall street, labor unions and the last bastion of credibility, the new religion, science. The masses have thrown the baby (religion) out with the bath water. With the current levels of cynicism it is conceivable that the same could happen for all other institutions including science where no one trusts anything. Faith is dead. This would truly be the cataclysmic end of the civilization foretold by prophets of doom.
The quest for knowledge of truth is personal and lonely.
The question I often ask myself and others is, “How do you know that?” The answer is usually discomforting. We must all rely on someone else’s first hand observations and analysis for things that we don’t personally and regularly touch and feel. (Leave aside, for the moment, whether we should trust our own observations and feelings.) That reliance is called faith whether exercised in the spiritual or scientific realm. Because we individually lack the training and knowledge to assess the truth of almost everything, we construct means of creating credibility analogs.
When a technology reaches the state of mass production where virtually everyone experiences its effects, then everyone universally accepts the scientific explanations that underpin it. Yet few and sometimes no one really understands the basic physics of those explanations. What’s more, even the science that purports to explain the phenomena often shifts under our feet as it discovers new “knowledge” that modifies the old. This begs the question, “what do you know”? . . . . Really.
So, how do we avoid a second coming of Noah’s deluge in the form of babies in bathwater? In the end, science and religion are in many respects different sides of the same coin. Each seeks to unwrap the mysteries of truth, each through a different process and each focusing on different areas of truth.
The holy grail of science is the process that can be peer reviewed and most importantly, replicated under controlled circumstances, usually by a few qualified, knowledgeable scientists. The masses then read the results in their text books and believe them to be true. Their method of validating truth is two-fold.
First: Primary, personal experience with observable phenomena. Flip a switch and the light comes on. Tune the radio and hear the music. (Yet understanding of the physics of electricity or radio waves is typically shallow to non-existent).
Second: Vicarious faith in the prophets of science, and their disciples. This faith is based on second-hand evidence, analogs for trust: Nobel prizes awarded, credentials at prestigious research Universities, acknowledgement from peer reviews, and for the masses, talking heads in popular TV, newspapers and books. For the average person this faith is in nothing more than a popularly accepted dogma. It is no different than the religious faith exercised by the masses of the Middle Ages.
The scientific method of religion for the individual is similarly two-tiered.
First, primary, personal experience with the results of experimentation: Pray for an answer to an intractable problem and receive an understanding that is enlightening or comforting, outside our normal thought process and unexplainable other than through the whisperings of the spirit. Exercise faith and witness a healing of the body, or often more importantly, the soul. Give generously of your means and love and reap the benefits.
Second, the testimonies of trusted people that we know personally, or the stories written long ago in scripture.
In either case, the personal inputs upon which people base belief are the same. In both cases, adherents will swear to a knowledge of the truth of their conclusions.
Today’s popular wisdom chants Karl Marx’, “religion is the opiate of the masses”, a means to wealth and power. It’s an outdated slogan since that baby is out the window a long time ago in most 1st world nations. A time will come, perhaps soon, when people begin to understand that science has its own false prophets. These evil people have mastered the confidence game for power and profit but care little for the improvement of people they are meant to serve. They care even less about truth other than that which results in personal gain. Just as religion has been subverted, so can science. Science is the new opiate of the “educated” masses who are educated with scientific dogma but lack wisdom.
Perhaps, when people understand the vulnerabilities of science they will begin to recognize that science and religion are indeed, two sides of a multi-dimensional coin. It is a coin that can be used for good or evil and a coin that, to have value, must seamlessly incorporate the strengths of each and root out the corrupting virus that is man’s quest for money and power over truth.
It seems to me a great irony that during the dark ages, utter contempt for religious beliefs was primarily the province of tyrants. They were the ones who manipulated religion to justify and instigate unspeakable horrors in the name of God while the masses were unwitting but sincere followers of the tyrannical “keepers of the faith”. Today, it seems a majority have embraced contempt for religion, resulting in a scramble to adopt tyrannical values. Hence, we can trust no one. Would that everyone embraced godly values that would form the basis for trust and discovery of truth through science, religion, meditation, philosophy, historical perspective or any method that gets us closer to the truth.