Science worship and moral meltdown

Over the next few months I will be blogging about stories that I believe to be powerful and worth telling. Some of the stories are inspiring. Some will 're-enchant' the world. This one falls into a different category. It challenges hidden secular idolatry.

The Columbine High School massacre occurred on April the 20th, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado in the United States. Two students, Eric Harris (1981-1999) and Dylan Klebold (1981-1999) killed 12 students and a teacher, injured 24 others, before committing suicide. The bloodbath provoked extensive debate regarding gun control laws, the availability of firearms in the United States, and gun violence involving teenagers. Much discussion also focused on the nature of high school cliques, subcultures and bullying in American society.

Eric Harris was a self-confessed disciple of Thomas Hobbes the 17th century materialist philosopher. Harris followed Hobbes in asserting that 'only nature exists'. This view is sometimes referred to as 'scientism'. He wrote the following in one of his notebooks:

just because your mommy and daddy tell you blood and violence is bad, you think it’s a f—g law of nature? wrong, only science and math are true, everything else, and I mean every f—g thing else is man made.

The belief that only the natural sciences hook onto reality is a popular belief among some western people. If only 'nature' exists then the only things we can believe in are those things that can be measured by scientific equipment. This leads to the conclusion that moral statements such as 'murder is wrong' are man made and empty of any genuine cognitive content. This view is also called logical positivism.

Without doubt western culture has many postmodernist features but we shouldn't ignore this widespread form of modernist materialism. The pernicious gospel of Hume, Hobbes  and Richard Dawkins is a very powerful worldview and yet it is seldom subjected to radical critical appraisal. Why does no-one ever connect moral meltdown in banking, family breakdown etc to the aggressive gospel of Hobbes and Harris?

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