by Thomas M. Doran | Catholic World Report
came to a fork in the road. 'Which road do I take?' she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?' responded the Cheshire Cat.
'I don't know,' Alice answered.
'Then,' said the Cat, 'it doesn't matter’.”
— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
A long time ago, my dad told all of us in the car to beware of the menace of the herd. My dad happened to be a blue-collar philosopher, if not a prophet, though I didn’t realize it at the time.
The common wisdom, what the smart set is apt to tell us, is that religious believers don’t think, don’t question, don’t challenge. Believers are the herd in the worst sense, a herd of stupid, blind sheep. But how often is rigorous reason applied to this assertion, an assertion that is now conventional wisdom, an assertion that troubles and intimidates many believers?
A black hole is defined by physicists as a region of space-time from which gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping, a speck of space containing unimaginable mass. The smart set and their disciples are certain (one might say, they have faith) that black holes exist, but try to find a smart setter who understands and can delineate the quantum physics that underlies this concept.
Evolution is defined as the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. The smart set and their disciples are certain (one might say, they have faith) that evolution is occurring, but try to find a smart setter who understands the genetics and biochemistry that underlie evolutionary processes.
And then there’s string theory. Particles that are waves and waves that are particles. Dimensions exceeding those we can measure. Fundamental particles. The smart set accepts all of it because science proclaims it, but is clueless as to the theoretical physics and mathematics that predict these phenomena.
That’s not to say that black holes, as understood by modern science, don’t exist, or that an evolutionary process isn’t contributing to change in species, or that string theory is a wayward explanation of reality, but only to point out that many put faith in scientific concepts they cannot themselves comprehend. In this sense, they are no different than the “herd of religious believers” they so often ridicule.