By Joseph Pearce
Scientism is a dogmatic ideology which presumes that “science”, in the narrower sense of the word, has the answers to all questions. For believers in scientism the claims of metaphysics are invalid and have no bearing on reality. The physical cosmos is all there is. There is nothing but three dimensions (or four if we include time as a dimension) which are perceived with our five senses. This is all there is and this is therefore all that is worth studying.
The problem with scientism, or one of its many problems, is that it tends to be prejudiced and therefore not very scientific. Take, for instance, the scientistic view of our ancient ancestors. There is a presumption that the so-called cave man was brutish or even bestial. G. K. Chesterton, in The Everlasting Man, alludes to the so-called scientific view of the club-wielding cave man whose primary occupation was beating his wife over the head and dragging her around by the hair. Yet such “science” was not very scientific because it was based on a prejudiced presumption about the nature of “primitive” man and not on any actual evidence. Chesterton bemoaned that “people have been interested in everything about the cave-man except what he did in the cave.” The evidence was “little enough”, Chesterton conceded, “but it is concerned with the real cave-man and his cave and not the literary cave-man and his club”. Insisting that we remain truly scientific, Chesterton reminds us that “it will be valuable to our sense of reality to consider quite simply what the real evidence is, and not go beyond it.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church
2293 - Basic scientific research, as well as applied research, is a significant expression of man's dominion over creation. Science and technology are precious resources when placed at the service of man and promote his integral development for the benefit of all. By themselves however they cannot disclose the meaning of existence and of human progress. Science and technology are ordered to man, from whom they take their origin and development; hence they find in the person and in his moral values both evidence of their purpose and awareness of their limits.