How the Accomplishments of Science Gave Way to the Delusions of Scientism

Unlike science, which is a method of attaining knowledge of the natural world, scientism refers to the claims that scientific knowledge is the only kind, and that it is the best way to attain answers to all of life’s questions, including moral and political ones. Sohrab Ahmari explores the dangers of believing in scientism:

We rarely pause to notice [that] the (very real) achievements of modern science continually beguile reason into surrendering its mandate to men and women in lab coats. Only occasionally, under the press of extraordinary calamities, do we attain the lucidity needed to pose fundamental questions anew.

There is nothing quite like a sudden and unforeseen pandemic to puncture the confidence of confident men. Scientists have calculated the age of the universe down to the smallest unit of time, penetrated into the most minuscule depths of physical reality, built self-driving cars, and on and on—yet a novel and mysterious virus can jump from a certain species of bat into Homo sapiens and wreak havoc on the modern world. Yes, science will very likely conquer the novel coronavirus (please God!). But events of this kind should shatter the illusion of scientific-technical progress toward some terminus of ultimate truth expressible in scientific or mathematical language. Nature, it seems, keeps throwing up new mysteries, keeps humbling us.

We long for a meaning science can’t supply. We wonder why we should carry on living and transmit life. We marvel at our discoveries, yes, but we also wonder why reality is intelligible to us in the first place: why, for example, do we find such beauty in the swirling shapes of galaxies, even as the sizes of these objects boggle our minds? We wonder, too, what it means to live well, what duties we owe one another and the other creatures that share the earth with us. And so on. Four centuries after it took off, the scientific outlook still can’t supply scientific answers to these fundamental questions.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Coronavirus, Science, Science and Religion, Scientism

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy