Odd as it sounds, opponents of evolution have often managed to make science the arbiter of belief. Case in point:
Just in time for yesterday’s New Hampshire primary some decidedly right-leaning legislation has been introduced, highlighted by Michael Zimmerman. Both bills are decidedly anti-science, but while the first is a standard piece of teach-the-controversy-it’s-only-a-theory legislation, the second is something else again. It would require science teachers to address scientists’ “political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Jerry Bergevin, explained:
I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It’s a worldview and it’s godless. Atheism has been tried in various societies, and they’ve been pretty criminal domestically and internationally. The Soviet Union, Cuba, the Nazis, China today: they don’t respect human rights. As a general court we should be concerned with criminal ideas like this and how we are teaching it… Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That’s evidence right there.
Zimmerman does an admirable job pointing out the problems with Bergevin’s bizarre proposal, so I’ll merely suggest, as I noted above, that this thinking only makes sense if science is held up as the arbiter of all belief—including religious belief. Which is strange coming from one as ostensibly religious as Bergevin. But there it is.
Think about it: Bergevin is saying that if the science of evolution is right, then the universe is necessarily a tale told by an idiot, and we may as well just kill each other. Why? Because, for him, evolution is not just a scientific theory, it’s a full-scale worldview. Bergevin gives science full control over his belief system. He seems unable to contextualize it. Put another way, he can’t imagine a world in which science and atheism are decoupled. (I won’t address his secondary assumption, that atheism leads to violence.)
He’s not alone, of course. Lots of people think science says pretty much everything there is to say about anything. Last year über-atheist Richard Dawkins finally just came out and said it: “Somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”
Jesus, see, if he had only known some good solid science, would have dropped that whole embarrassing “kingdom of God” business quicker than you can say “clear-thinking oasis.” Because whatever it was Jesus was going on about there, it could not possibly have been as compelling as the “kingdom of facts,” as Peter Gomes once described science. Poor first-century bloke. He couldn’t help it; he didn’t know anything worth knowing. He didn’t know any science.
Bergevin believes it; Dawkins believes it; and Dawkins’ Jesus swoops in for the trifecta: Science is the proper arbiter of all belief.