Bleaching the World of Meaning and Value

Reflecting a bit on yesterday's quote by Viktor Frankl. 

It might be a bit of stretch to lay the Holocaust at the feet of "nihilistic scientists and philosophers." But I do see the point Frankl is making about a materialistic view of humanity producing nihilism.

If you've gotten a chance to read Hunting Magic Eels you'll know I raise this point in the book. Specifically, at one point in the book I describe the "scientific gaze," where we view life in wholly materialistic terms, as "sociopathic." 

Admittedly, that's strong language, but I think Christians need to recover some courage in the face of science. So some boldness is necessary. As Flannery O'Connor has said:

When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock -- to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.
If you haven't noticed on the blog, I'm starting to shout more and draw larger, more startling figures. This blog used to be cozier. I'm starting to throw more cold water. And to be clear, I'm not describing science as sociopathic. Science is a blessing and a gift. What is sociopathic is "the scientific gaze," what is often described as "scientism." 

Since the publication of Hunting Magic Eels, I've started making this point with my students by describing how "the scientific gaze," reducing life to chemistry and physics, "bleaches" the world of meaning and value. For example, when a human being is viewed in wholly materialistic terms, we get something like this (from Wikipedia):

And while there is a "truth" here to such a description of a person, if this is the sum total of how you view humans, well, that's sociopathic. All that is human in humanity has been bleached out. 

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