political theology, science

I’m all for appreciating science, but its at most a service

UCF physicist says Hollywood movies hurt students’ understanding of science

…[The UCF physicist], like many scientists across the United States, is worried that if science and math education doesn’t improve, society will pay the price. “All the luxuries we have today, the modern conveniences, are a result of the science research that went on in the ’60s during the space race,” Efthimiou said. “It didn’t just happen. It took people doing hard science to do it.”

And there is more from other conversations I’ve had:

If science and math doesn’t improve in America. You’d have to do your academia outside of America, because there won’t be one left. Its wrong to think a society won’t continue without it. There won’t be a society to support humanities.

I beg to differ. No, society won’t continue in the same way, however it will continue. In fact, perhaps it should change, for it is wrong to base society on technology. Maybe we’ll finally realize that technology won’t save us. For instance, global warming: no amount of technology will save us from the crap we’ve already pulled. We’ve damaged everything and maybe the climate can come back, but it seems that the climate will have to do that on its own and we need to give it a break. In short we’ve got to limit ourselves and not simply improve technology.

There are alternatives to burning hydrocarbons, and making petrochemicals, its just that no one wants to pay that much for them.

The climate has to and can balance itself it seems, but we on the other hand have got to show the moral back bone of restraint and sustainable living – not gluttonous consumption. We have to re-imagine what we as humans really are and our relationships with the rest of ourselves and the ecosphere. Science can’t well provide that sort of thing; science does not speculate on the nature of humanity and right relationships, rather, science observes what we are doing. In fact, science cannot do the re-imagining with any real meaning without the humanities informing where technology should go, and really, where technology is actually useful. With technology as king, then we simply buy anything technology produces. Oooh that’s good for capitalistic greed on all sorts of levels. Ultimately technology is merely a tool, not a savior. However, we see technology as savior, but then what or who is really the savior? I think we claim we are as we control the cosmos through technology, and then, what are we saving? The status quo.

Interestingly, science is a product of humanities. Historically speaking, the idea of science – observing nature – came from theology, a theology of looking at creation to see the beauty of God. For more, just go read Thomas Aquinas, yes, the thirteenth century theologian who really like Aristotle. It pays to know your history and theology. So in reality, technology is the byproduct of humanities. However, to change the relationship, and to make technology more than a by product is wrong to begin with and could use some straightening out.

Now, what the “real” problem for America in this article is, is to have technological/scientific learning outsourced. This means that economic control will move from beyond Wallstreet, or at least middle class America (or at least there will be the loss of the perception that the middle class controls). And that, that, will reak havoc on current imperial America as we know it. This is the real fear. If we don’t control the way everyone else “develops” into our “civilized” idea of life, then we don’t own those of lesser means.

But then again, globalizing technological advances will not really solve anything to begin with. The power structures will remain the same; we’re still putting technology first – saying that humanity can manipulate at will whatever it wants for the elites to live off the poor. Thus I am not really caring either way – science will continue on, and as Christians, we tell technology as savior to take a hike while we aim live simply. Damn the man and his “need” to maintain a technological control in order to maintain an unethical affluence.

There is all that, and then there is the need to admit that frankly, the church won’t be in control of who holds the power, rather, we respond to the power itself, criticizing, standing in for the poor, being the body of Christ, etc.

And that, dear reader, is a political theology.

I mean not to trivialize science, but really, where does the true objective of science and technology lay? I’m all for loving science but its at most a service. Yet, it is not a service to maintain economic imperialism or to comfort ourselves with the fake control over the grand cosmos, of which we are specks of dust.

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2 thoughts on “I’m all for appreciating science, but its at most a service

  1. Steve says:

    You’re a little unjust to the original article. I don’t think lamenting the state of science education is the same as saying that science is the One Great Savior of the Universe.

    (By the way… “glutinous consumption” is what a kindergartener is doing when she eats paste. Was this what you meant? :)

  2. d. w. horstkoetter says:

    Whoops. Typo. Yeah I meant gluttonous. Doh. But then again, considering the state our food is in, we might not be that far off of a kindergartner eating paste. *Zing*

    I’m not so sure I am being unjust to the article because quite frankly, the article actually isn’t dealing much with what I’m talking about. Rather, the article assumes the fears – ceasing to advance, make life for ourselves easier, maintain control, etc – rather than interrogating its own assumptions.

    Also, I’m using the article as a jumping off point to address the greater issues underlying anthrocentrism and nationalcentrism. So really, if I am being unfair, I am being unfair to the culture at large – one that is reliant on scientific discoveries (aka humans pushing their boundaries of knowledge) for its sense of progress and identity.

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