Dear gentle readers, it is with utmost sincerity that I bring to your attention, long overdue, to let you know that I have finally arrived at the conclusion that science is, in fact, the devil. A tool of Satan to bring about a distrust in the Lord, and to question the world around them, using facts that are surely constructed and fabricated by a conspiracy of thousands of men across the globe, who’s objective is to make a living misleading the world in white lab coats.
Now that I have your attention, let me proceed to the actual topic of this article, which is that lately I’ve become aware that, as a very liberal, and very progressive thinker, I have noticed that many of my peers have seemingly forgotten one thing: Science can, in fact, be manipulated for evil in the same way as religion. As a gay male in the Southern US, I have known my whole life that science’s seeming antagonist, religion, has been manipulated and contorted by thousands of conservatives, prudes, politicians, and religious Pharisees toward the end of fear-mongering and rallying people to them through the use derisive language against LGBT people. There is no doubt, and historical proof since the first records have been kept, that religion is a weapon in the wrong hands. Nobody can argue that it isn’t still used in the same way today, and especially by the GOP here in the United States. Their dreams of attaining power are accomplished by pointing the finger at others. I am sometimes tempted to invoke Godwin’s law because it seems to me a very fascist tendency…
As undeniably heinous as religion can be when bent to the will of the hateful, it would probably behoove us to remember that the God of those without religious inclination, science, can also be twisted in the wrong hands. Though we progressives seem to like to think that science is without flaw, the proof, so vital to the scientific method, can be shown that, in the wrong hands, and taken to extremes, the results of science are pretty dang bad as well. Case in point: Nikola Tesla on Einstein’s development of atomic energy: “Scientists today wander through equation after equation that has no relation to reality. If we were to release the energy of atoms, instead of a blessing, it might bring disaster to mankind.” Had Tesla foreseen the atomic bomb? Would the world be better off had the discoveries of science not been used for mass destruction? ( See what I mean at 1:03:48 from the documentary below.)
Even though Tesla may have had the foresight to see the potential danger in Einstein’s discoveries, he would himself create plans for a “death ray” that would shoot concentrated lightning reminiscent of a Death Star from Star Wars. His thought was that if enough countries on the globe were similarly armed, it would render war obsolete. The ultimate arms race to make everyone equally powerful, or just another way that the practice of science is the devil? (insert dramatic shriek here) Science taken to extremes has the power to make billions of lives easier, or to wipe them out in one instant.
If information is power, then the information gleaned from science can certainly be used by those seeking power, and not for the benevolent reasons that let’s say, Neil deGrasse Tyson, or his predecessor, Carl Sagan, might have. Not all things created in a lab, genetically modified, extracted from DNA, imbued with chemical properties, or concocted by chemists, are by definition good things. They can, and do have the potential to be used for intentions other than pure ones. Should this come as any surprise?
As I bear witness to the trend in social media to attack and to defend things like genetically modified organisms, I see passionate arguments on both sides. I see people who rally around the notion that all GMOs are bad, and others that seem to believe that all GMOs are good. But wouldn’t the truth actually be somewhere in between? An organism is by itself, neither good nor evil. Was Frankenstein or Edward Scissorhands inherently evil? But where I see progressives tending to one biased extreme or the other, it reminds me that maybe we are behaving exactly like the religious extremists, who distort religion for malicious reasons, not seeing their own bias…actually coming to wholeheartedly believe the words that leave their mouths. They are clearly false witnesses.
As we are aware that there are a’ plenty of religious wackadoos, let us also know that some people who use science are also not immaculate. Those of us who rally passionately around Bernie Sanders and his remarks about the corrupting influence of big money on our government should also be somewhat aware that it isn’t just the government who are capable of such corruption. Science, our Holy Scale of pure objective reasoning, can also be used in the same way that Ted Cruz is used by the Koch brothers: for dubious and most troublesome effect even.
One thing that we know from science, and not so much from the pursuit of religion, is that, as Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
I don’t mean to make out that science and religion can’t peacefully and even harmoniously coexist, but to assert that in the wrong hands, they can both be weaponized, manipulated, and exploited. Let’s remember our own tendency to bias in our interactions with others, and be ultimately more scientific, that is to say, more skeptical, and ever searching for what is the truth, without claiming so impetuously to be without fault ourselves. Science would certainly prove us wrong anyway.
I leave you with an indulgent clip of Nikola Tesla portrayed by none other than the late great, David Bowie. Because what could be more awesome than that?