Minchin and science

Minchin and science

Tim Minchin performs his fun beat poetry here, with luscious animation to go with it.

Yes, it’s an atheist pro-science rant but it’s also very fun and makes a number of important points about rationality, the contribution of science and technology to our well-being and the importance of evidence, proof and the scientific method.

However, it is also absolutist in its assumptions. Scientific evidence is not a means to an end and no, science simply does not have answers to everything and never will, and this isn’t only because we haven’t done enough science yet, but because many phenomena simply lie beyond the grasp of science.

Take global warming as a crisis for humanity. Does science tell us how to solve this predicament? Of course not, this is a ‘how’ question laden with values and conflicting interests that only humans can solve amongst them via complex social, political, economic etc means. Science can help us discover the details of global warming and climate change, it can help us amass the empirical details on the various aspects of particular actions, inactions, technologies and so on. But it cannot help us wade our way through the crisis beyond providing important facts, we have to make complex decisions that take into consideration sentiments, consciousness, logistics, culture and our own complex system of values. With the help of BOTH we may be able to make the right decision in the end.

Also, there are so many wonderful areas of human existence that lie beyond the bounds of science. The beauty of human existence lies in its richness: love, pleasure, consciousness, spirituality, art, music, law, values, connections and interactions… and also science and technology. It is foolish and reductionist to simply choose the logic of only one of these to encroach on the others and assume the mantle of an all-knowing omnipresent entity (does that remind us of anything? religious zealotry perhaps?), instead of what it is, an immensely important sphere of human life but only one of many.

The wonder of human existence is its richness, and science is only one dimension of many that is worth pursuing with passion.

Perspective man, perspective 🙂

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