The title of this article is a quote from Dutch philosopher of science Willem Drees. It’s a great quote and it communicates a profound truth. Science offers a systematic and ordered investigation into the structure and processes that govern the natural world. And when it is liberated to pursue that ambition, it is a gloriously powerful tool.
The problems come when people want to press that powerful tool into ideological service for other ends from defending an inept president who spread false information about a hurricane’s trajectory to providing ammunition for one or another life philosophy, worldview, or religion.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with interpreting scientific data in accord with one’s philosophy, worldview, or religion. Doing so may yield a surprising consilience between the scientist’s data and the interpretive framework. But that is very different from the ideological attempt to press science into vindicating one’s beliefs.
We must always keep in mind that science itself has those limited ambitions. Science does not address concepts beyond its domain such as free will, moral value, or the existence of a non-physical substance that interacts with the physical.
To be sure, it can provide data that can be interpreted in various ways as the interpreter seeks consilience with his or her philosophy, worldview, or religion. But the interpretation itself always remains one step removed from the science proper.