Stages of knowledge

 There are three main stages or levels when it comes to scientific knowledge of the universe and belief in God or any type of higher power – the Naïve, the Sophisticate and the Sage.

Naïve are relatively non-scientific and embrace a belief in God without question. They see the hand of God in everything, based on wonder and awe of the world around them. They have little knowledge of the science behind it all. This is not to disparage them. The complexity of life and nature is sufficient for them to believe that there must be a God behind it all, and, to a great degree, rightly so. Nature really is awesomely complex and mind-bogglingly immense. It is at the same time both terrible and wonderful. These people may or may not believe the scientific theories presented in the popular press, but have little basis for critically analyzing them.

 


“Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.”                                                   —–  Bible, Ecclesiastes 4:13


 

 

 Sophisticates are the Status Quo[1] Regurgitators, (SQR), who embrace the authoritative standard model or party line as gospel and inviolable.  These intellectuals and scientists are so sure they have all of the answers that they see other views as inferior or just plain wrong. They believe everything can be explained by science “naturally” and they reject the possibility of other scientific explanations, things that are beyond the capability of science, and a creator, God or any other type of transcendent[2] power. To them the universe is the answer to itself. They accept the established scientific picture without question on blind faith. If new data seems at odds with the established picture, then ad hoc[3] statements must be added to bring it into line.

Although they are often academic leaders in their fields, they are really shallow thinkers.  Their faith in science and historical or popular scientific leaders takes on a fervor rivaling any religion.  As such, they fiercely defend their beliefs and feel compelled to force those beliefs on others and to suppress opposing views or questions.  They fail to see the bigger picture or its implications and often focus on the parts rather than the whole.  They also fail to see that their view is really a religion in itself, based on faith in prevailing scientific beliefs and “heroes”.  Through hubris and political action, they often rise to the top of their departments, mostly because they are so sure they have superior knowledge and abilities.


“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”

— Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980


 

Sages are the Independent Thinkers (IT) who have the same or better knowledge of science as the sophisticates, but who don’t just follow lock-step and regurgitate what they are told without question.  They are willing to admit that there are some things that science has yet to explain fully, and may never be able to prove. They are willing to consider other possible explanations for observations outside the status quo. The Independent Thinkers have a deeper understanding because they are not constrained by loyalty to any dogma.  They also may see beyond it to a bigger picture and its implications. A deeper understanding of the implications of life, the universe and everything[4] often leads them to the inescapable conclusion that there must be something beyond and outside of it all, whether it is God in the classical sense or something else equally powerful.

 


“Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.”

                                                                                  — A. Einstein


 

The SQR, (Status Quo Regurgitators) who are largely in control of the scientific and intellectual academic establishment through political promotion by like minded peers, (but by no means in the majority), tend to ridicule and suppress the other two categories.  As a way of silencing scientific opposition, they often lump the other two categories together in a disparaging way, although the two are at opposite ends of the scientific understanding and belief scales.  The one accepts God on faith alone; the other uses superior scientific knowledge to sometimes reach similar conclusions.  The SQR tend to have shallower understanding based on knowledge that they themselves limit because of their faith in a scientific dogma that is accepted without question.  This view is sometimes referred to as COWDUNG, COnventional Wisdom of the DomiNant Group[5].

[1] Status quo – the way thing are; the existing state of affairs.

[2] Transcendent – that which lies outside or beyond the universe or material world with which we can interact.  Some believe that life itself, thought and existence are transcendent qualities.

[3] ad hoc  – for this particular purpose; special; created on the spur of the moment, impromptu

[4] Douglass Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979

[5] Michael Disney, The Hidden Universe, 1984

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