Conversations Beyond Science and Religion – The Cult of Scientism
A cult is “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.” Members of a cult commonly do not question the cult leader, but view him as a figure of high authority. Scientisim is “excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.” Some observers, such as this week’s guest, David Conn, a leading expert on cults and author of the new book, The Specific Density of Scientists: and Their Secret Fears, believe that today’s scientists too often roam beyond the field of science (the physical world) and intrude upon the field of religion, which they typically find wanting of scientific evidence. On this show, host Philip Mereton and David Conn debate the question of whether scientists must learn to separate the scientific enterprise from the spiritual search for God. When scientists start opining upon the spiritual world, Conn argues, they begin to adopt the practices of a cult: veneration of authority figures and the failure to question them.