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The Method is the Essence and Obscurantism the Risk

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Ronaldo Mota – Chancellor Estacio Group

Translated and reprinted by the author’s permission. Originally published in:  http://reitoronline.ig.com.br/index.php/2018/12/13/o-metodo-e-a-essencia-e-o-obscurantismo-o-risco/

Knowledge is something broader than scientific knowledge, encompassing all beliefs, personal truths, and popular culture. In turn, scientific knowledge is that limited part based on the scientific method.

One should not confuse truth with science. Not all truth is scientific knowledge. For example, individually, I may have the belief that there is life on other planets. This may even be true, without being scientific truth, since it does not meet the assumptions of the scientific method (observation, logic and experimentation). The separation between the worlds of religion and science, from this reasoning, can take place in a clear, respectful and indispensable way.

Religious freedom and the free expression of ideas are non-negotiable presuppositions of modern times. Fortunately, our society guarantees appropriate spaces, both for the exercise of faith and for its dissemination to interested parties.

The modern science of the seventeenth century, anchored in observation, logic and experimentation, as synthesized by Galileo Galilei and his contemporaries, added to the tools of mathematics, like the differential and integral calculus of Isaac Newton, made it possible to understand and know nature better and to develop laws, such as the laws of mechanics, thermodynamics and electromagnetism.

It was from modern science that extraordinary technologies and knowledge were developed in the following centuries, with Darwin’s steam engine and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and its unfolding, as symbols. Thanks to these fabulous advances, it was possible for life expectancy, which at the beginning of the last century was little more than 40 years, to almost double in the present day. The Industrial Revolution, the development of antibiotics, basic sanitation, the set of technological tools and the new worldviews made available to us, thanks to the scientific method, provided us with enormous possibilities in overcoming hunger, misery and disease.

Creationism, as an explanation for the origin and development of nature concerns the knowledge experienced by the world of faith and not of science; Darwinism and other scientific theories, in turn, belong to the space of science – so much that they can and are challenged, because they do not have doctrinal character as principles.

When we hear suggestions that science lessons teach the two visions (creationism and Darwinism) on equal terms, in order to avoid losing conquests and healthy distinctions that mark the contemporary civilizing process, it is necessary to make clear what is of the scientific field and what comes from the religious field. The doors are opened to an unacceptable obscurantism and intolerance, whose limits, if crossed, will cost too much to later try to recover the damages caused to both positions.

One of the main roles of education in today’s world is to prepare a citizen who can understand the world around him in an emancipated way. In order to do so, it is necessary to develop logical reasoning based on the scientific methods, the search for the contradictory and the stimulation of the critical spirit, as well as to have an analytical capacity, be prepared for lifelong learning and be tolerant, flexible and supportive. Without mastery and clarity about the method, we certainly will not have professionals and citizens to leverage sustainable economic, social and environmental development.