Thursday, May 5, 2016

the footnotes of science

Lewis makes a great point today in A Year with C.S. Lewis.

In passing, he mentions that science is like the footnotes to the poem that we're reading, the poem being life. And this is a great insight.

As you're no doubt aware, there is a creeping scientism in today's culture. Scientism is the belief among some scientists that nothing exists outside of what we can perceive. That science explains everything, and we should not believe in anything else.

But if you listen to Lewis's insight, you see the folly here. Science is very much like the footnotes to the story that we're reading. The story is full of meaning and depth and characters and mood and themes and morals. But none of those things can be fully understood using science alone. The footnotes to the story are true... they're (usually) just facts about the story that help us understand it better. Like science does for our lives. Science gives us many useful facts about our lives, and it helps us to understand HOW it works. It helps us invent things. It helps us solve problems.

But it doesn't even begin to tell us WHY we are here. It doesn't even pretend to understand (except by those scientists who are practicing scientism) the meaning of it all. The purpose of things. Science is wonderful, and makes our lives better. But it doesn't make our lives WORTH living. That is where philosophy and religion come in.

When you try to solve your science problems with philosophy and religion, you end up with weird practices. Like snake handling or refusing medicine for sick children. But when you try to use science to answer meaning questions, you end up with weird meanings. Like we're all a bunch of apes who are overpopulating the planet and need to spread to other planets before ours dies. Pretty bleak.

Life works so much better when you use science to answer science questions, and philosophy and religion to answer meaning questions.

Thanks, God, for giving us wisdom to know the difference.


julie reedy said...

So very true.

Donette Glenn said...

Yup! I totally agree...