Science Envy, Religion Envy

I’ve noticed a weird kind of science envy in American Christianity as well as various New Age and occult circles. There’s creationism which tries to use science to kinda disprove scientific consensus. There’s incredible abuses of quantum physics by, well, what seems to be 50% of anyone writing on religion or spirituality. There’s a lot of “science” in the same way that someone cosplaying is actually the character.

Too many people want the dignity, applicability, and detail science around their complex spiritual experiences and faith. Or, without that, they want to discredit it. Meanwhile science would like more grant money, thanks.

On the other hand, there’s what we’ve seen break apart various atheist and skeptic groups – a fanaticism that borders on, well, religion. That need to disprove but not prove. The smugly sure atheists who seemed to have driven people from atheism. Atheists embracing bigotry that religious groups promote (oft anti-Islam). Assorted YouTube and TikTok bros that we’ve seen come and go (but not go enough) over the years. There’s a lot of religion among these supposedly scientific types.

Too many people want the surety and breadth of religion, the sense of utter rightness. Religion can’t truly deliver that, and science still wants its grant money as there’s actual shit to do.

Having been all over the religion map, I’ve wondered about this phenomena, of supposedly religious people wanting science to back them, and so-called scientific types being no different than religious fanatics. I’m sure you’ve seen this as well, and I’ve had conversations about it with friends.

Now I could go into my own take on this – and perhaps will, but I think it’s important to address the core. How is it religious types want to have the validity of science (or undermine it) and “scientific” types want the surety of religion? Because of power-hungry assholes.

That’s it.

If you’re a power hungry asshole that uses religion, then you can’t have science get in the way, you have to hijack it, destroy it, or preferably both. Science is a rival to you. Also since you’re all about power any rational thought or analysis is your enemy.

If you’re a power hungry asshole that uses “science” (I have to keep putting it in quotes), then science is not enough. Science is a mix of cooperation and argumentation, half freeform concert, half thunderdome fight with pillows. It’s not the kind of thing that will anoint a king or a messiah, but you can pretend to be one and claim you’re the Most Rational. So you do what you can to try to anoint yourself Brain Pope or whatever, and end up looking pretty religious (and perhaps unconsciously duplicate religion).

What is perhaps saddest is how much of religion and science gets defined by these various battles and personalities and grifters. Forget religion versus science, let’s try to diminish the amount of and power of assholes first.