Of Science & Technics, Religion, & Values
William Blake, “Isaac Newton,” 1795
Science is not meant to be a religion or a worldview, although the scientific outlook does influence one’s worldview, which is why so many scientists are atheists. The scientific outlook is empirical, depends on evidence and experiment, and is hostile to the idea of “faith” – thus, it is difficult for the scientific mind to accept the basic tenets of religion. Further, science, being in theory about evidence and not dogmatic faith, should include the ability to change belief based on new data, etc. A true scientist should be willing to abandon any scientific paradigm if sufficient (solid) evidence accumulates demonstrating the falsehood of the paradigm. In contrast, any given religion will not survive an acknowledgment by its adherents of the falsehood of its paradigms. If the Pope were to announce that Jesus was not the son of God, and that the New Testament was the work of men, and men only, essentially invented centuries after the events allegedly depicted within, this could not be viewed as “strengthening” Catholicism. However, debunking previously held theories is in fact key to scientific progress and constitutes reinforcement, not a weakening, of the scientific method. I realize that some would hold up some Jewish scientist or a gentile like Dawkins as an example of someone trying to raise science to the level of an integrated worldview for society. Whether or not the accusation is true, I reiterate my opinion that science is NOT a basis for a worldview. One cannot directly derive values from science, although science can certainly influence the decision as to what values to adopt or reject.
What then is science? Science is a tool, nothing more, nothing less – the scientific method being perhaps one of – if not the – most important tools in human history. But it is a tool, not a worldview, and not a set of values. Science is an approach to understand reality in a manner that allows reality to be practically manipulated, hence showing the close ties between science and technics that Francis Parker Yockey tried to deny. This close relationship between science and technics can be, in my opinion, discussed as follows.
Although some science is purely “knowledge for knowledge’s sake,” usually there is an underlying practical objective for pursuing that knowledge. It is of course possible that, for basic “pure” research, the practical payoff may be far in the future. Nevertheless, the payoff, no matter how far off, is an important motivator. The payoff may be direct or indirect. A direct payoff is a specific practical objective for a given area of research, while an indirect payoff means the idea that “although we currently are not completely sure how these findings can be used, in the future, there will likely be an important application of them.” Thus, technics – the ability to exert power over the environment and manipulate reality for some practical purpose – is almost always a rationale for the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
On the other hand, technics presupposes science; technics require an understanding of why things work. Yockey, who knew much about politics and history but little about science, asserted that technics ultimately only cares about “what works.” As long as it works, the theory is irrelevant. But in reality this is not the case at all. Scientists and “technicians” alike want to know why the technics work. Action alone is insufficient; the mechanism of action is always searched for – always. The reason is obvious – when you know why it works, you can make it work better, fix it when it breaks, or come up with an even superior technics. Ultimately then, science is the tool for using knowledge of reality to derive an understanding how to create technics and understanding how technics work. It’s not religion, not a worldview, and not a value. It’s a tool.
One cannot derive values from facts, committing the “naturalistic fallacy.” Values must be derived elsewhere. For example, science can tell us our genetic kinship, and tell us that genetic interests are real. Science can define “adaptive behavior” and show how the pursuit of genetic interests enhances such behavior. But whether or not someone values adaptive behavior and decides to pursue genetic interests – that cannot be derived from the scientific facts. These values instead derive from human preferences that can be as much irrational as rational. Again, one cannot derive values from a tool.
Having said all that, I will now switch gears (no pun intended) and admit that, yes, science does greatly influence worldviews, even if it does not create them. When one uses the scientific method as a tool to understand reality, then one will tend to reject worldviews, paradigms, and values inconsistent with empiricism and tend to favor those more consistent. One does not have to be an atheist if one is a scientist, it is just more likely. It’s a fine line, but science influencing the choice of values is not the same as actually deriving values from science itself. I may be more likely to value adaptive behavior once I understand the science, and thus am influenced by the science, but I can equally choose to ignore genetic interests and instead pursue non-adaptive personal hedonism. We have free will; we are “free moral agents.”
Perhaps I should say that I am militantly agnostic rather than atheist. After all, maybe a God does exist, and that existence will be one day proven through empiricism rather than faith. The true scientific spirit is open-minded. One cannot blindly reject the possibility of the divine. One commentator mentioned the doctor who “saw Heaven” while in a coma with no observable brain activity. Maybe there is an explanation for that which will not require divinity, but maybe not. One must be careful though to separate the possibility of a “higher power” from established man-made religions whose main purpose throughout human history was, and is, to influence human behavior in a manner agreeable to some sort of elite.
My personal opinion is that (traditional) religious belief is derived from a mixture of fear and a desire for control. There is a universal human fear of death; hence, the need for an afterlife (setting aside the good coma-doctor’s experiences for the moment). Humans have looked up to the night sky and stared at the stars, and became frightened by the silence and the solitude, and the majestic indifference of the universe. Hence, the need for a “Big Daddy Sky Spirit” running the show behind the scenes – there is a meaning for it all, don’t you know. Elites needed a method for controlling mass social behavior without seeming self-interested, so they had priests assert that the rules of conduct were given by the “Big Daddy,” and, playing on the fear of death, Big Daddy would reward the obedient with everlasting life. Etc. Etc. The priests and the religious hate science (as Nietzsche explained well in his Antichrist), because once people become scientific and start asking the right questions, it’s all over for priests and gods – “God is dead.” After all, what’s the story of the apple and the serpent in the Garden of Eden really about? Knowledge and science being forbidden – “thou shalt not know” – eating from the tree of knowledge as the ultimate sin? Empiricism replacing faith – the ultimate sin? Cui bono?
Going a bit off-topic, I also say that I am personally not much interested in Traditionalism, Julius Evola, or Savitri Devi any more than I am interested in Christianity, and I am as flummoxed by those who dabble in runes as I am by those who finger their rosaries. And I think talk of “Hyperborea,” “root races,” “Ultima Thule,” and so forth belongs in a Conan comic book, not in any serious racial nationalist discussion.
However, my understanding of the NANR project is that there is a diversity of opinion as long as the key fundamental of the preservation of the European peoples is accepted. I can work with people who are into those things that I reject, but I draw the line when those things become a “litmus test” or become the only, or major, planned basis for a “future society.” If some people are more comfortable with runes or rosaries, so be it, as long as others can play with their test tubes and rockets.
Finally, having said all of that, I tend to agree more and more than irrational impulses may motivate as much or more than the rational, which is why I support the work of Yockey the Irrational as much as I do Salter the Rational, and why I believe Alex Kurtagić’s emphasis on style has merit.
In summary: science is a tool. It is not the basis of society or values. But in my opinion it can validate or invalidate the worth of values – at least for those mentally inclined to empiricism. Not everyone is. But surely, the Traditionalists out there recognize the need to balance their Irrationality with some Rationality?
Perhaps we should not tip the balance too far in one direction or another?