Question for the day: What if the science-religion conflict is hurting the economy?
My question was prompted by this editorial in science arguing that the politicization of science has led the public to oppose it. The title is “Science must be seen to bridge the political divide.”
I think I can address the question by drawing together insights from two works I’ve recently read, Alvin Plantinga’s new book Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism and Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation. I will offer a speculative answer by drawing a provocative connection between the two books.
I. The Gist of It
Here’s the speculation: we’re stuck in a Great Stagnation in part because the social status of scientists is too low. Fewer smart people become scientists, who in turn engage in less research and innovation, which in turn leads to fewer economic advances. Why the decline in social status? Perhaps because many scientists and public intellectuals have conjoined science with an anti-religious ideology, naturalism, that has soiled science in the minds of the largely religious American public (in part via the political activism of naturalists). One way to raise the social status of scientists is to break this connection. Thus, one way to exit the Great Stagnation is to sharply distinguish between the social practice of science and the ideology often held by its practitioners. (more…)