Following up on Leon Wieseltier blasting scientism at Brandeis’s commencement (here), a good place to pursue the topic in depth is the recent book, The Magician’s Twin, which examines C.S. Lewis’s writings on scientism and his gradual realization of the harm Darwinism was doing in the world of ideas.
In the title essay, “The Magician’s Twin,” John G. West reminds us of one of Lewis’s observations about popular faith in science:
Lewis explained that one of the things he learned by giving talks at Royal Air Force camps in World War II was that the “real religion” of many ordinary Englishmen was a completely uncritical “faith in ‘science.’” Indeed, he was struck by how many of the men in his audiences “did not really believe that we have any reliable knowledge of historic man. But this was often curiously combined with a conviction that we knew a great deal about Pre-Historic Man: doubtless because Pre-Historic Man is labelled ‘Science’ (which is reliable) whereas Napoleon or Julius Caesar is labelled as ‘History’ (which is not).” (p. 24)
That’s ironic in view of, just for example, the recent paper wars over the origin of humans walking on two legs.
The only reliable piece of information is actually that we have walked on two legs during the entire period we call history, and must have done so long before, but no one knows why.
(Note: Re “magician’s twin” Lewis had said that science and magic are twins, and that one thrived but the other died. Today, the analogy is uncertain. When any nonsense can be science, a better analogy might be: Science and magic are two winds and one or the other might be the prevailing one, depending on the season and climate. Thoughts?)