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If Scientism Ruled the World

John on April 4, 2006 at 10:25 am

We’re regularly assured by atheists that the triumph of reason over religious irrationality is inevitable. We are meant to believe that once religion has (in Sam Harris’ phrase) been destroyed, we will enter a golden age of peace and mutual understanding. Public atheists have been selling this for some time. Carl Sagan wrote a book called Pale Blue Dot with this theme.

Forgotten in this claim of a dawning secular utopia is all the evidence to the contrary left by previous secular utopias like those in France, Russia and China. In fact, a disinterested observer would be forced to conclude that the political outcome most consistent with atheism is totalitarianism. After all, it’s much easier to subjugate the masses when you view them as worthless sacks of superstitious protoplasm.

There is significant and growing evidence that one reason for this correlation is a peculiar strain of atheism which seems to abhor humanity. I wrote about this a couple months ago in a post called Scientism is a Suicide Cult. Last Friday, another “data point” came in which perfectly supports my earlier thesis. Proffessor Eric Pianka of the University of Texas gave a lecture which he calls his “doomsday talk.” He suggested that the future of humanity is death by disease, possibly a new strain of Ebola. But rather than issuing the news as a warning, he did it with barely controlled glee at the prospect.

“[Disease] will control the scourge of humanity,” Pianka said. “We’re looking forward to a huge collapse.”

A self-described “citizen scientist” named Forest Mims who attended the lecture described the scene:

“He recommended airborne Ebola as an ideal killing virus,” Mims said. “He showed slides of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse and human skulls. He joked about requiring universal sterilization. It reminded me of a futuristic science fiction movie with a crazed scientist planning the death of humanity.”

Lest you think Professor Pianka is an extremst cut off from the majority of his fellow biologists, the article notes that he was just voted Texas scientist of the year. And although religion per se wasn’t mentioned, Pianka does identify “anthropocentrism” with what has gone wrong with the world. In other words, we are fools to believe we matter, that we were created, etc. Prof. Pianka clearly sees insufficient atheism as the core problem.

Abandoning any hope of gentle persuasion for his views, Prof. Pianka seems to feel a hideous death by Ebola is the thing that will set our minds right. This is the atheist version of Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Better yet, it’s the atheist version of Left Behind. Ebola is evolving! Will you survive the plague? The similarities are striking.

Pianka is the cult of scientism at its ugliest. The death of billions would be justified if it served to make scientism self-evidently plausible. There is a fine line between warning that something like this can happen and wishing for it to happen. Pianka has already crossed that line. The next line is the one between wishing for it to happen and making it happen. Pianka is the atheist equivalent of the Iranian imams. He creates a moral climate in which almost any action can be justified if it serves the greater good, in this case scientism.

As a Christian, I can’t escape the deep irony of living in a time when a public scientist can wish for the death of 90% of humanity by Ebola on the grounds that we’ve been corrupted by religion, while at the same time the cult of Islamofascists is wishing they could get their hands on some Ebola to rid the planet of the infidel. Scientism and Islam may be un-alike in every way, but they seem to share an eschatology, i.e. a common vision of the future in which they hold the key to surviving the holocaust.

God willing, neither group will get the chance to immenatize the eschaton. In any case, the next time you hear the word “theocracy” coming from the lips of some fool, remember Dr. Pianka and ask yourself what would happen if men like him were allowed to rule the world. It’s not a pretty picture.

Update: Blogger (and physicist) Lubos Motl left some kind words in the comments so I decided to check out his post on Pianka. It is excellent and well worth reading. He lays out in greater detail the case for concern about Pianka’s teaching methods.

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