Apparently there’s a march for science going on today. That’s fantastic, I love science. Despite what some may think considering my homeschool background, my family never shied away from the subject. I would watch Bill Nye and Beakman (my younger sister and I can still recite the ‘fat head’ Bill Nye skit), read Asimov’s books on the solar system for kids, Richard Feynman was a personal hero of mine, and my whole family even enjoyed atheist-utopia shows like Star Trek (we were a Deep Space Nine family. Or at least, that’s what I mostly remember watching). My dad even owned a serious telescope and was a member of the local astronomy club. We just didn’t live up to the stereotype of the religious homeschoolers who had to bury their head in the sand at the word ‘evolution’. While other Christian kids we knew (who were educated in Public schools) would burst out in tongues in biology class when evolution was discussed (as some sort of misguided witness), my parents recommended that we study and learn the subject matter properly. I think their approach worked, by not treating it as something unholy or dangerous, it was never anything that threatened my faith in the slightest.
Unfortunately, I think my parents had a higher regard for science than a lot of “pro-science” advocates I see today. “Science” (Although really it’s pop science, not science proper) has become a weaponized political tool to wield against the rubes and yokels who have different political opinions than you do. It doesn’t matter if those rubes and yokels are engineers and PHds and know more actual science than almost anyone else you know.
Pop Science has become a form of showboating and it takes almost no effort to get involved. All it really takes liking pages like “I Fucking Love Science” on facebook and then sharing Hubble Telescope photos, or some new (not yet peer reviewed) discovery with comments like “WOW!!” and you’re in. It’s almost as easy as changing your profile picture to show solidarity behind a cause or victims of a tragedy, and almost as meaningless.
Pop Science is the new priesthood that’s here to save us and the sentiment isn’t even hidden, that’s why Bill Nye has a new show called “Bill Nye Saves the World”. But priesthood always has competition. That’s why Pop Science is often not just closely allied with the New Atheism and sharply opposed to religion, but even philosophy itself. The two most visible Science celebrities, Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson by their own statements see philosophy as useless at best and dangerous at worst. The truly thing about this is that science without philosophy is worthless, as one marchers sign I saw today said, “Science doesn’t care about your opinion, it just is.” That is scarily accurate. And science that is not kept in checked by philosophical pursuits like ethics, value, and aesthetics is a horror to behold. It’s one of the the biggest lessons the 20th century had to teach us that we have ignored outright
Of course the Science marchers aren’t being keyboard warriors, they actually are going out into the world in an attempt to accomplish… something. I applaud them for that. In fact, the local event here in my hometown appears to be much more than a simple march, but an entire educational event with talks, actual scientists holding AMAs and more. If my son was a bit older this is exactly the sort of event I’d want to take him to on a weekend. Just like I plan to watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos with him and take him to the OMSI when he’s old enough as well.
If you engage in an event like this, be sure to check your heart. Do it for real enthusiasm, or real concern, don’t do it to be smug or in an attempt to showcase your superior morality. I’m a Christian, and I acknowledge that I’m much more left leaning than most and issues like conservation and sustainability weigh heavy on my mind. In religious circles these topics fall under the theology of stewardship, it’s actually something discussed quite a bit. But there are people I know, people much smarter than me with impressive degrees in STEM fields, that disagree on some aspects of this. It would be the height of folly and pride to treat these educated people dismissively as if they’re fools. If you don’t know anyone like this, or even like me, might I suggest your personal circle is a bit too closed? If we’re truly interested in dialogue, science, and advancement, we have no room for echo chambers.