Scientific Fundamentalism

Ten Rules of Scientific Fundamentalism Reprinted with permission of The Wall Street Journal copyright 1993 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
  1. Science holds the answers to all the questions of life.
  2. Anyone who does not believe Rule 1 is not Scientific.
  3. Any evidence for intelligent design of the universe is not scientific.
  4. Any person who teaches there is evidence for intelligent design of the universe is not a scientist.
  5. Scientists know for a fact that matter is all there is.
  6. Anything which is not matter does not matter.
  7. Religion or religious impulse is the result of undesirable mutations in biological matter.
  8. Whatever is not science is religion.
  9. Only science may be taught.
  10. Stuff happens, but only by coincidence.
Provine's Rules of Evolution
From "The Faith of an Atheist" by George Liles, MD, March, 1994, pages 59-64.
  1. There are no gods or purposive forces in nature.
  2. There are no inherent moral or ethical laws to guide human society.
  3. Human beings are complex machines that become ethical beings by way of heredity and environmental influences, with environment playing a larger and hereditary a somewhat smaller role than is commonly supposed.
  4. There is no free will in the traditional sense of being able to make uncoerced and unpredictable choices.
  5. When we die, we die--finally and completely forever. (The idea we can somehow survive death is a myth.)
  6. This is what we are and all there is.

As you read through these 16 rules, what was your reaction? To a great extent, your reaction is a barometer of the kind of indoctrination that you have had and the extent to which you have accepted that indoctrination! How many of the statements did you find yourself agreeing with? How many of the statements do you feel to be scientific or to be what scientists believe? The Ten Rules of Scientific Fundamentalism were originally written as a joke or sarcastic jab at the attitudes frequently reflected by people antagonistic to religion. Several researchers have turned it into a questionnaire to see to what extent people actually believe these 10 statements. The levels of acceptance among college students have been reported to be amazingly high, but no detailed analysis of the data has been released as yet.

The list identified as William Provine's Rules of Evolution is a copy of statements made by Dr. William Provine to his undergraduate biology class at Cornell University. Compare his statements with the list of Rules of Scientific Fundamentalism. Students in this class are not only pressured to accept Provine's rules, but are also exposed to a constant stream of abuse and ridicule of belief in God or the Bible. His belief system is basically that of Scientific Fundamentalism. The very fact that Provine can push his belief system off on his students and brag about it in a magazine with national circulation with no repercussions is an indication of the degree to which the rights of people who do not accept Scientific Fundamentalism are being ignored. Provine is not alone in his flagrant abuse of those who reject his assumptions. A huge percentage of the programs offered on science on television make it clear that they also essentially embrace the Rules of Scientific Fundamentalism.

Sit down in front of your television set sometime and watch a science documentary on the Discovery channel, PBS, or CNN. Watch the program and see how many times the following demonstrations of acceptance of Scientific Fundamentalism occur.

  1. How many times does the program state or imply that there might be an explanation or answer to the problem that they are addressing that lies outside of the field of science? It could be a solution from the arts, from literature, from recreation, morality, or philosophy--not just religion.
  2. How many times does the program acknowledge the fact that there is more to the cosmos than physical matter? Is there any attention paid to metaphysics, non-Euclidean mathematics, dimensional forces beyond time, morality, or energy that is not mechanical in nature?
  3. Is there any content in the program that portrays another solution to the problem being considered other than science? Are solutions from the arts, metaphysics, etc., mentioned in any kind of a positive way?
  4. Is blind mechanistic opportunistic chance the only possibility given as to how a particular event occurred?
  5. How many times does the program denigrate and ridicule religion in selling its solution to whatever problem it is addressing?

The Ten Rules of Scientific Fundamentalism were written to be humorous, but they are too true to be funny. Viewpoints like Provine's are not just sad expressions of personal beliefs. They are malicious promoters of poor self-image, selfish destructive behavior, and depressive suicidal catalysts in the minds of our young. No wonder our society is collapsing around us as the whole world disintegrates in mindless immorality.

Science is not the issue in this problem. Facts do not have the power to promote bad self-image or motivate the exploitation of others. Einstein used to say, "Religion without science is lame, but science without religion is blind." College professors and producers of science documentaries have a charge to bring the facts to our attention. We all need to know what has been discovered. When you read through Provine's rules, how many facts do you find? The next time you watch a science documentary, take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side of the line, list the facts presented in the program. On the right side of the line, list the opinions, assumptions, faith statements, conclusions and/or biases of the authors which the program presents. On a recent trip, I sat in a motel and watched five programs on PBS. Eighty two percent of the statements made fell into the latter category--in other words, for every 18 facts, there were 82 attempts to indoctrinate the viewer with the bias of the producers of the program. Just for fun, I did the same thing on an series of ads for cars by local car dealers and found that more facts were given by the car salesmen--31 facts verses 69 statements of opinion or judgment.

We urge you to educate your children and their teachers to the importance of thinking and analyzing claims. The scientific illiteracy of our population is directly related to this problem, in this writer's view. People cannot make good judgments themselves when they are indoctrinated with the professor or producer's views instead of being given factual information. We are amazed that people would follow the likes of Jim Jones or David Koresh, but the exact same thing is happening in science today. Blind religious fundamentalism is a dangerous thing, but scientific fundamentalism is just as blind and even more destructive.


Back to Contents Does God Exist?, March/April 1996