Scientism

Book Review – J. P. Moreland's “Scientism and Secularism”

Image of Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology
by J. P. Moreland
Crossway 2018
Paperback 224

J. P. Moreland is a seasoned Christian philosopher who has provided the Church with some very good tools in defense of the Faith and the Christian Worldview. He has been Professor of Philosophy at Biola for many years. This timely book is most welcome as it engages one of the most pernicious false ideas that has arisen from man’s innate hatred of God (Rom. 1:18-25).

Scientism is essentially the belief that only science, especially the hard sciences, can give us solid knowledge of the world. Although many of its advocates do not come right out and say it in such blunt terms, that is their faith.

Moreland refers to “hard scientism” and “soft scientism,” the difference between them being that the softer variety allows that other fields of study may have something to say, but nothing as authoritative as the pronouncements of “science” (29-30). This belief in the magisterium of the lab coat has come about because of a shift in the “plausibility structure” in the society (32-33). The organized and heavily guarded groupthink that permeates school and university curricula and the media. Behind this is the ever-potent force of people not wanting God to be there (191-194).

In the third chapter the writer relates how the universities were transformed into bastions of secularism, and this was chiefly done by the acceptance of scientism. This shift did not occur because of evidence. “Rather, it was merely a pragmatic sociological shift” (48. Italics are the author’s).

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“The paradox of knowledge . . . is that as it expands and the boundary between the known and the unknown changes, you inevitably start to ask questions that you couldn’t even ask before.”