Scientism, Where is Your God Now?

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The Black Plague in the Middle Ages was during medieval times. You know, before modern medicine and the industrial revolution and technology. Even the Spanish Flu in 1918 was before vaccines. Just as long as we can get everyone on board with vaccines, history will never repeat itself. Some people thought a pandemic today which would reach so far and so wide was unthinkable. Some people thought this generation was untouchable.

Science is Great, Scientism is Not

Bishop Barron often talks about the concept of “scientism” at his wonderful apostolate wordonfire.com. The scientific method of forming a hypothesis and testing it, of observation and classification, is all fantastic and has greatly advanced mankind. However, in scientism, any human knowledge that cannot be proven with the scientific method is invalid. Art, poetry, literature, philosophy, etc are all discredited. Love does not exist. God does not exist.

This Coronavirus crisis has taken a stab at scientism. There was no scientific solution. No cure, no way to contain it. Left and right political parties are in an uproar about their differing opinions. All the science, all the data, the different ways of washing your hands, or making a mask are no more than opinions and theories in development at best.

There has been no physical, scientific solution to getting rid of this problem. There has been no physical, scientific solution at preventing this virus from affecting the entire world on a spiritual, emotional, and psychological level.

Progressivism, Where is Your God?

Is our society better now than it was 50 years ago? More “open-minded”, more “tolerant”, more comfortable? And was it better 50 years ago than it was 100 years ago? We won’t go back so far as those dreaded “dark ages”.

Are there positive and negative aspects in every era? Progressivism would argue that we are clearly better off now. However, if the end goal in this life is the salvation of souls, is for a person to decide for eternity if he or she accepts God’s love, that possibility is open in every era. Perhaps this era is less spiritual than others even.

Just like scientism, progressivism is really put into check now. Are we so much better off than the people that lived through the Black Plague and Spanish Flu? Physically and medically, it seems pretty similar. Spiritually, we are just as shaken to the core.

Spiritual Solutions to Natural Problems

We “moderns” tend to find it silly to remedy something of the material order with something of the spiritual order. I like to read The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie de Paola to my children and it is about a Native American girl who sacrifices her most precious treasure, a doll, to bring about rain to end a drought. If only Native Americans had weather forecasting and artificial irrigation their silly spirituality would be unnecessary, right?

Even as Christians, we read the Old Testament as a bit outdated. God doesn’t really send floods or destroy cities or even send plagues, does He? There are probably scientific explanations behind the natural events the People of Israel interpreted as part of their Salvation History, right? It’s all a little uncomfortable how people pray and fast in response to something modern science might explain or even cure.

Some people even try to explain away the more “unscientific” parts of Jesus’s ministry, too. I would say it is impossible. Jesus is not a life coach. Jesus is not just a teacher with some bright ideas that are all verifiable by the scientific method. Jesus is healer and only those in need of healing, even physical healing, can understand that. Jesus uses His spit and mud and puts his hands on a man’s eyes to cure him of a purely physical problem. If there were ophthalmologists back then, would Jesus be out of a job?

No, Jesus uses the physical order to touch the spiritual order and with His Incarnation, they are in a profound communion.

Saint Josemaria Escrivá frequently explained that he would rely on spiritual resources and leave the problems in God’s hands. When faced with a problem, he would sometimes go on a Marian pilgrimage and entrust the problem to Our Lady, instead of trying to resolve it directly. In Guadalupe, Mexico, St. Josemaria concluded: “We threw ourselves into her arms. She will sort everything out. I am sure that is is already sorted, right now.” https://stjosemaria.org/guadalupe/

God, our Father, and Mary, our Mother

All Christians are called to entrust our problems to our Father in Heaven, also to the Mother given to us at the foot of the cross. St. Josemaria prayed, in Guadalupe with words similar to what Pope Francis has used during this pandemic: “Monstra te esse Matrem! Show us that you’re a Mother! (…) If a little child asked his mother that, there isn’t a single mother who wouldn’t be moved.” https://stjosemaria.org/guadalupe/

The world is God’s handiwork and we should certainly be moved to study all creation and God inspires all honorable human endeavors. However, we are still creatures in need of a Creator, children in need of a Father and Mother. There is no science that can explain away that need and that ache in us. There is no science that can take care of us and count every hair on our heads and love us. There is no science that can save us from death.

Oh, Death Where is Your Sting?

This pandemic reminds us that “you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), with or without science. People do crazy things when they are scared to die. Scientism fails us in times of crisis, but God our Father revealed to us by Jesus Christ, calls us to Him through a crisis and is always waiting for us, like the prodigal son’s father. Christ’s life transforms, renews, strengthens, unifies, and doesn’t weaken with death, but is glorified.

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7 thoughts on “Scientism, Where is Your God Now?”

  1. “This Coronavirus crisis has taken a stab at scientism. There was no scientific solution. No cure, no way to contain it. All the science, all the data, the different ways of washing your hands, or making a mask are no more than opinions and theories in development at best.”

    So the author thinks it made no difference that we changed our behavior (social distancing, masks, hand-washing) according to what scientists knew about how viruses are passed on from person to person? So I assume the author wouldn’t care if her surgical team didn’t bother scrubbing in or wearing gloves and a mask?

    As another commenter said above, when the vaccine comes, it will come from scientists working in a laboratory, not from priests praying in a church. There is a reason why one can’t practice medicine without a license, but one can pray at will. Giving diagnoses, and following up with treatments and medicine have real consequences, bad or good, depending on the skill of the doctor. Praying, whether it’s to Yaweh, Jesus, Allah, Ganesh or Satan, has no discernible effect. That’s why the law requires parents to take sick children to a doctor, but the law remains magnificently indifferent to whether the parents pray for them.

    There has been no physical, scientific solution to getting rid of this problem. There has been no physical, scientific solution at preventing this virus from affecting the entire world on a spiritual, emotional, and psychological level.

  2. Science may have created this problem since it is more than possible the virus escaped a lab and it is also possible the virus was given gain of function while there. The virus having been loosed, science has asserted itself on every side of every obstacle so that its warnings have become wolf cries to most ears. Its models have failed miserably; its prescriptions have proven impotent. The chief failure of science in this sad chapter is one of humility, the inability to recognize its limitations and role in our lives.

    We have learned at least two valuable lessons. One is that science is a tool of the human mind. To the extent the mind is corrupt, science too is corruptible. Second, is that the end result of a wicked, materialistic society is that no one believes anybody. Let him who has ears hear.

  3. Such bitterness does not serve the Gospel and the Church. Take my late aunt and godmother’s advice. Take a bath and have a drink. If that doesn’t work pray again and take a nap. There are good people who are not believers trying to help with all their minds and heart deal with the current crisis and are humble enough to realize they don’t have all the answers.

  4. Great article!
    Indeed, this crisis shows us our vulnerability, that we almost forgot.
    All the good work that has been and is being done throughout the world to face this pandemic tells us also how we do better united.
    In crisis we remember that we are not self-sufficient and the little we are without our Father.
    Thank you!

  5. “This Coronavirus crisis has taken a stab at scientism. There was no scientific solution. No cure, no way to contain it. Left and right political parties are in an uproar about their differing opinions. All the science, all the data, the different ways of washing your hands, or making a mask are no more than opinions and theories in development at best.

    There has been no physical, scientific solution to getting rid of this problem. There has been no physical, scientific solution at preventing this virus from affecting the entire world on a spiritual, emotional, and psychological level.”

    This is at best lazy and at worst dangerous. It is also false.

    I surely hope you don’t send your kids out without a mask. I surely hope you don’t place all the conspiracy theories on the same level as advice from the CDC.

    1. Kevin J Morgan

      When a vaccine or cure comes it will come from a laboratory, not a church. Prayer accomplishes nothing, science changes the world.

    2. Perhaps the author knows how to have a vaccine prepared in advance of a virus before you even know the genome of the virus. Perhaps even a solution to the problem P vs. NP?

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