Science as Prophet and Messiah

Interesting article (H/T to George) about science overreaching a bit when it comes to the business of prediction.

From Stuart Blackman's piece:

At its most enthusiastic, science has always been prone to promise rather more, and sooner, than it has managed to deliver. It can sometimes feel as if cures for diseases are forever 10 years off, while nuclear fusion seems to have been 50 years away from practical reality for about half a century now. It might be easy to look back and laugh at claims that eugenics would spell the end for not only heritable diseases, but also of social problems such as vagrancy and crime, but a 1989 Science editorial’s claim during the run-up to the human genome project that the new genetics could help reduce homelessness by tackling mental illness is perhaps fresh enough to make biologists’ toes curl with embarrassment.
I love science. Perhaps too much for some of my religious friends. However, I do think think science carries some messianic hopes, that what is broken amongst us and within us has a technological fix. The cure. A green economy. The pill that stops the aging process.

Not that I'm complaining. I'm a lover of the Enlightenment and my air conditioning. It's just that there is no drug, surgery or stem cell therapy that can fix what is broken in me.

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2 thoughts on “Science as Prophet and Messiah”

  1. I'm in the middle of a review of NT Wright's Evil and the Justic of God at the moment, and he is making a very similar point: the Enlightenment has given us a lot, and there is much to be said for it - but, by the mid-twentieth century, it was clear that it was not going to do much to deal with evil. The Holocaust and Hiroshima were evidence enough that evil could thrive just as well in Modernism as anywhere else.

  2. And I suppose that 'post-Enlightened" individuals will overcome all evil after all these billion of years? We will have peace and good-will and everyone will love one another and hug! If one believes this, then, one is much too deluded to even suggest a pill that will work...

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