Science without Wisdom
We have been taught that the earth revolves around the sun. In fact, our world revolves around modern science. Modern science permeates our collective mindset. Think not? Consider what you actually know about the earth’s motion. Do you feel as if the earth’s surface is moving at 1,000 miles an hour due to its rotation? Do you feel like the earth is moving 67,000 miles an hour around the sun? Indeed, we still use language that indicates how strongly we do not sense any motion of the earth. Any of us might say: “It’s getting dark, because the sun is going down.” Even among those with an advanced scientific education, many have not considered on what grounds they believe and say these things. Hence, for most, the motion of the earth is more than a matter of faith; it is a matter of unconscious faith. That is, it is one thing to trust an expert’s word, but it is another level of faith completely to not even be conscious of the fact that one is taking another’s word.
The medieval Christian took the Bible as true on faith, but he was conscious that it was faith. Yet, we identify with the conclusions of the science of the earth‘s motion to such an extent that we consider ourselves personally superior in knowledge to our predecessors if we think the earth goes around the sun. Ironically, we even consider with some disdain those who used to think otherwise, because we imagine that they were at the mercy of rigid systems of doctrine that did not leave room for personal independent thought. Of course, the fact that the earth moves around the sun is a valid conclusion of physics, but, for most, it is not a personal conclusion at all. It is part of an unrecognized belief system attained during childhood.
The same arguments apply to the roundness of the earth. We all believe the earth is round. Why? Many have not even asked why. Why not? Unconscious (or blind) faith in science. After all, how many have done the experiments to verify the shape? How many have actually seen the earth from space? How many have flown all the way around the earth, watching to verify a continuous heading that would end in a great circle flight around the earth? Irony appears again when one discovers that most today think medieval men were victims of ideological strictures that kept them from knowing the earth was round. To add insult to injury, history tells us that medieval men knew the earth was round. For instance, sailors were long familiar with the effect of the curvature of the earth, allowing one to see ships at a distance when in the crow’s nest, but not when on the deck.
Want still another example of science’s influence on our thought? Consider what is said about the nothingness of the atom. We are taught that an atom is composed of electrons and a nucleus. The electron is point-like and most of the mass of the atom is in the nucleus of the atom. If the nucleus of the atom were such that it was the size of a basketball, the “edge” of the atom would be two miles away. It is thus said and believed that the atom is filled with mostly space. The inference is then drawn that since we are made of atoms, we are mostly nothing. From this, the atom becomes associated with a sort of underlying nihilism. We are made to feel that somehow our senses and our common sense have lied to us and are untrustworthy. Even more, we are left with the sometimes unarticulated thought that we are really, after all, relatively unimportant and worthless. Many adopt such attitudes as basic unchallengeable truths.
In reality, science makes use of our senses in its collection of data. We must, for example, trust our senses and logic to get conclusions. If one generates a scientific conclusion that is, in turn, used to nullify the trustworthiness of our senses, we destroy the scientific conclusion itself because it always depends on experimental data that in turn depend on our senses. This effect, in turn, of course, destroys the reason that we distrusted our senses in the first place. The conclusions of science are a second, third, or