Thursday, July 7, 2016


I read a lot about utopias and a lot of utopian novels -- from Thomas More to George Orwell to Samuel Butler. And while most of them seem to mean well, few of them end well.

I know I'm leaning a lot on the world of fiction. But fiction mirrors reality, friends.

So it was interesting to read this Slate piece about the shortcomings of scientific utopia. And the reason for its failings come not in this article, but one from the New Era, just this month.

But first, Slate.

Here's the crux of sociologist Jeffrey Guhin's critique of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's proposal for a "rational," "science-based" utopia:

The myopia of scientism, its naïve utopianism and simplistic faith, bears an uncanny resemblance to the religious dogmatisms folks like Tyson and [atheist Richard] Dawkins denounce.

Previous to that, he says:

It’s striking how easily we forget the evil following “science” can do. So many times throughout history, humans have thought they were behaving in logical and rational ways only to realize that such acts have yielded morally heinous policies that were only enacted because reasonable people were swayed by “evidence.” Phrenology—the determination of someone’s character through the shape and size of their cranium—was cutting-edge science. (Unsurprisingly, the upper class had great head ratios.) Eugenics was science, as was social Darwinism and the worst justifications of the Soviet and Nazi regimes. Scientific racism was data-driven too, and incredibly well respected. Scientists in the 19th century felt quite justified in claiming “the weight of evidence” supported African slavery, white supremacy, and the concerted effort to limit the reproduction of the lesser races.

I'm tired of living in a world that's dichotomized. Whoever says science or religion have to go it alone doesn't understand science or religion.

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