Science for all? Maybe not…

The recent bombing (and attempting bombings) by physicians and engineers in the UK may have a greater casualty than just snarled airport security and throwing more people in jail.  The fact that most of the current round of bombers are physicians, engineers and others with scientific training should put to rest the secularist lie that, if we just had more science and "reason" in education, we would have a better world.

In celebrating the tenth anniversary of a website for geotechnical engineers, I made the following observation:

Engineers, more than those in the pure sciences, are painfully aware that they and the decision makers for the technology seldom overlap.  The responsible use of technology is generally the province of others.  Linked to that responsible use is a reasonably rational economic and political system, without which technology doesn’t get put into use well if at all.  In other words, really crazy systems tend to get in their own way.  Those who want their destiny to be better need to take the proper decisions to make that happen, one way or another.

Let’s take this a step further: science and technology are neutral in that their benefit or harm derives both how they are applied and even how the concepts of "benefit" and "harm" are defined.  Ultimately these all must be delineated and executed within some kind of frame of reference.  The results you get will depend upon the frame of reference you’re working from.

Many of the terrorists come from scientific and technical backgrounds.  Secularists would like us to think that such deep exposure to science–and the underlying logic–would demonstrate to them the "error" of their religious ways.  Physicians, for example, just about have to give superficial assent to evolution to get through their course of study, and as we all know evolution is the elixir of knowledge for the secularist.  But in the case of these terrorists, things did not go according to the secularists’ plan.  Beyond that, their technological studies rendered them more proactive than many of their Islamic forbears, who tended to be fatalistic. That’s a major sea change for Islam; advocates of free will in Islam lost that battle in the early centuries after the Hejira.  It’s a change that most in the press have missed.

Let me repeat: how you view science and its application depend upon the frame of reference you approach it from.  Last summer I wrote a piece entitled Coming Home from Heathrow, where I compared my own journey with that of another engineering student at about the same time, Osama bin Laden.  The training and temptations were very similar, but the outcome was different.  It is the choice of everyone trained in the sciences has to make.

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