Today’s New Scientist

Hooke, Boyle, Pascal, and Newton Need Not Apply

In an obvious slap on the face of one of the founding fathers of science, the empirical enterprise birthing technological advance is descending into abject subjectivism as it succumbs to political pressure. As is typical in the world of polarizing, political issues, the ominous cloud of symbolic social justice threatening to darken scientific societies, organizations, and universities, has little to do with actually improving that marvelous methodological system that ushered in the industrial age.

When Francis Bacon philosophized on what would make for an ideal epistemology in his many published works (Novum Organum, Great Instauration, to name just a few), he minced no words concerning the qualifications of a good scientist (in his day they were called natural philosophers). For Bacon, a qualified scientist, 1) tempers his sensual observations with a rigorous and repeatable methodology, 2) employs the assistance of instruments (such as microscopes, telescopes, scales, rulers and other measuring devices), and, 3) provides mathematical evidences that what he is observing is objective.

What Bacon did not esteem were intellectuals who followed notions simply because they were embraced by the popular culture at large; in Bacon’s Puritan mind, there was no room for giving voice to ideas simply because they were “in vogue.” In his view, the sin-ravaged mind was hopelessly subjective and prone to deceit, making it the duty of a good naturalist to not place his trust in anything that could not be “. . . put to the test of experience.”1 This is apparent by his tireless challenges of the Aristotelian thinking in his day – which embraced “truth” stemming from reason alone.

As delineated above, such were the competencies of great scientists as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Blaise Pascal, and Robert Hooke. Today, the Baconian philosophy of exemplary science predominating in the academy since the 1660’s is being challenged. The nature of these challenges makes it not unreasonable to consider that the modern academy would have no place for these great men who were not only excellent experimentalists, but men of devout Christian faith.

Today, a new kind of scientist—with corresponding competencies—is being championed. First and foremost is the one who embraces diversity according to the definition du jour, which happens to be gender-identity, at least at the time of this writing (I just checked social media two minutes ago).

Case in point: the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Geological Society of America (GSA) pulled job ads placed from Brigham Young University (BYU) for a tenure-track faculty position, capitulating to complaints from LGBT activists, that the University’s positions were antithetical to their hallowed notion of diversity. The complaints focused on BYU’s Honor Code—forbidding homosexual conduct among students and staff (certainly a science-stopper).

The concern for many is that in today’s political environment this kind of blacklisting will not stop with the AGU and GSA; and there will be countless other universities – both Evangelical and Catholic—requiring a similar code that will be targeted by these activists.

According to the new rules for legitimate science then—having no founding in Baconian philosophy, if you are thus inclined to signing or supporting such an Honor Code, you may not be a qualified scientist (calculus and research skills, notwithstanding). Billy Williams, AGU’s vice president of ethics, diversity and inclusion, states that, “. . . diversity and inclusion are essential to advancing science.” In true Baconian form, we might be curious if an empirical study has been conducted on this very assertion.

The ominous social justice cloud advocating for gender-identity diversity similarly drapes over the American Chemical Society, one of the largest scientific societies in the U.S. Whereas the website devotes much space promoting the inclusion of LGBT scientists, it fails to advocate or even acknowledge in any way Christian scientists who are, after all, the intellectual and philosophical descendants of the father of modern chemistry—Robert Boyle.

If we are to believe that diversity and inclusion are essential elements to the advancement of science, we might wonder how science ever got its start! Remarkably, according to sociologist Robert Merten2, the early Royal Society—the most prestigious body of scientists in the world, was anything but diverse, being comprised of 62% Puritans, with the remaining being largely Anglican. In spite of the fact that the religious proclivities of most of those scientists would not enable them to give assent to homosexual conduct, they miraculously still made remarkable discoveries (universal law of gravity, various gas laws, laws of motion, etc.).

While diversity and inclusion are nice ideals, their import in the advancement of science seems to be overstated. If embracing the LGBTQ movement becomes the new standard by which we measure good scientists, we risk excluding many who have much in common with Bacon, Newton, Hooke, Pascal, and Boyle, in the name of “diversity.”

Notes
1. Bacon, F. (1952). Novum organum scientiarum. for Mortimer J. Adler.
2. Merton, R. K. (1970). Science, technology & society in seventeenth-century England (1st American ed.). New York: H. Fertig.

Emily has had a lifelong appreciation for science, teaching, and research. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno with a BS degree in molecular biology and a minor in cognitive psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted summer research in immunology, microbiology, behavioral and cognitive psychology, scanning tunneling microscopy and genetics; she also published research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, and co-authored a chapter on scanning tunneling microscopy. She is currently completing a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology at University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Apologetics with the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Emily has had the joy of teaching high school chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, anatomy & physiology, and pre-engineering classes over the last thirteen years. As a former Darwinian evolutionist, Emily enjoys stating the case for intellectual agency, considering the arguments posited by the intelligent design movement as much more credible than those proffered by Darwinists.

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