Scientism – Science as a Religion

Home » Scientism – Science as a Religion

Science began with the Sumerians (c4100-1750 BCE), Babylonians (c2000 – 200 BCE) and Greeks (c500 BC – 170 AD). They accounted for wondrous observations and theories that to us seem utterly incredible for “ancient” civilizations. These treasures of knowledge and discovery were snuffed out by the dark ages in Europe (c500 – 1000 AD) due to the rise and dominance of Roman Catholicism. Science lay dormant for centuries until its revival by the scholars of the Islamic Golden Age (c780 – 1260 AD). Then the late Middle Ages (c1300 – 1500s AD) and the Scientific Revolution/Renaissance  (1543 – 1687) saw Science’s resurgence (rebirth) in the European world – thanks to the efforts of early Islamic scholars who worked tirelessly to locate, translate and preserve ancient knowledge and works.

This period of time saw the creation of universities, scientific societies, revolutionary ideas and incredible discoveries. But, the dogmatic church was constantly a barrier and blockade to these discoveries and progress. Science’s adherents were frequently (and severely) punished for challenging the orthodox dogma of the church. The Church represented centuries of orthodox, dogmatic rule. Priests, Cardinals & Popes were the embodiment of infallibility and God’s wisdom for the world. The Bible was God’s word and not to be questioned. Masses and rituals were conducted in Latin, which the laity were unable to understand or question due to their illiteracy. Authority was not to be challenged. Only those within the inner circle of the Church had freedom, authority and power. Science constantly faced:

  • Orthodoxy. Dogma. Divine Pronouncements. Indisputability. Incomprehensibility (Latin). Infallibility. The Laity or the Uninitiated Pagans = Unwashed Masses. Priests and Saints (heroes). Shrines. Cathedrals. Authority. Faith.

Sometime during The Enlightenment/Age of Reason (1687 – 1804) the authority of the Church began to be superseded by the overwhelming discoveries of science and humanity’s slow literacy and awakening. Since then Science has become a foundation of knowledge, discovery and advancement – – an incredible time for humanity!

However, sometime during the 20th century, and continuing into the 21st, science has increasingly become like a religion. While science’s goals should always be towards continued questioning and discovery (even of established theories) instead we seem to be entering a stagnation mode wherein established paradigm science becomes a barrier to further advancement. “Consensus” science, “Settled” science and “State” science are sure signs of dogmatic groupthink. I’ve witnessed a lightning fast adoption of these negative attributes particularly in the last four years.

Meme: Me trying to figure out which part of the scientific method involves no questioning and blind trust.

To make matters worse, science has become extensively politicized and held hostage to the influence of government grants, paradigm ownership/egos, nationalism/racism-claims, and attacks on dissenters.  PhD candidates are expected to tow the line of the existing orthodox paradigms or face expulsion from their university (ref. Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt). Kuhn’s claims of “paradigm science” show themselves constantly in numerous scientific fields. Particularly:  

  • medical science
  • climate science
  • energy science
  • geology
  • archaeology
  • evolutionary biology
  • biology (abiogenesis)
  • cosmology/astrophysics

In ALL these fields strong evidence that opposes the orthodox/establishment narrative is constantly raised and presented by free-thinkers, engineers/specialists and scientists from other fields, yet the priests of orthodoxy, government experts, and state-controlled media suppress anything that calls into question their hold on the paradigm – – no matter how profound the evidence. They simply ignore or censor the anomalous evidence, and personally attack/libel/cancel their opponents.

Meme: When scientific conversations cease, then dogma rather than knowledge begins to rule the day.

So, now we see Science has reincarnated into a renewal of religion:

  • Academic Orthodoxy & Dogma. Divine Pronouncements from the Paradigm Owners. Indisputability and infallibility of the priestly caste. Incomprehensibility (publications). The Laity or the Uninitiated = Unwashed Masses. Priests and Saints (heroes of the paradigm). Shrines & Cathedrals (Universities). Authority. Faith in Scientism.

Trust the Science” has become a mantra – a tabloid catch phrase – to lend legitimacy to just about anything those in power want believed and followed. It’s actually anti-science! Don’t fall for it. The mantra should always be: “Question the Science” – that’s how science should be done.

Image: "Trust the science" has never been anything other than a marketing term that means shut up and obey.


Per Mirriam-Webster:

scientism (noun):

1) method and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist
2) an exaggerated truth in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)

Most standard definitions focus on science’s sometimes-out-of-their-realm claims on knowledge, such as #2 above. However, I prefer a more encompassing definition and scope (as shared by an increasing number of critics in the world) – – my personal definition:

scientism (noun):

1) the dogmatic belief that science is infallible in all its claims to knowledge of the natural universe, both material and immaterial
2) the dogmatic/blind belief that science’s claims are beyond question, criticism or dissent; science’s decrees are ‘consensus’ and ‘settled’ and therefore indisputable
3) the tyrannical belief that government/tech/big-science “owns” science and its conclusions (as though science is a thing rather than a process)
4) the audacious hubris that each specialized field of study has reached its apex and no further revolutionary discoveries can be made
5) science and its priestly caste are to be worshiped, heroized and never questioned

Quote meme: "The experts who are leading you may be wrong . . . There is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science." - Richard Feynman

Any semi-serious attempt at researching this issue easily exposes the differences between science done properly and improperly, and how today’s version of science has become “Scientism” . . .

Science vs. Scientism

Science Done Properly  . . .

  • To gain a better understanding and knowledge of nature and objective reality through observation, testing and experimentation
  • Question, validate, revise or overturn current paradigms/theories; Scientific facts or beliefs are provisional and subject to change
  • Continually get closer and hone in on objective reality/truth; Self-correcting process; Supposed ‘truth’ today will be folly in 50 years; Absolute truth is never claimed; Knows nothing with 100% certainty
  • Don’t construct an ideology around yourself; Realize your fallibilities; Don’t hero-worship or exalt any of science’s adherents to a priestly caste.
  • Don’t operate on faith – beyond the faith that the universe and nature are orderly and understandable, and what we observe is at least a reasonable representation of reality
  • Search for alternative models is encouraged; Welcome dissent; Openly considers valid evidence from outside your own specialties; Question everything; Nullius in verba (“Take nobody’s word for it” – motto of the Royal Society Science Academy)
  • Ultimately: Science as a voyage of discovery for objective seekers
  • Systematic process (a tool) used to continually hone in on objective reality (truth), yet never claiming to possess ultimate truth; Use the Scientific Method (or similar objective process)
  • Use observation via the senses and instrumentation; Continuous testing, experimentation, measurement & objective data analysis
  • An unbiased, objective, evidence-based approach to discovery; A transparent process
  • Rigorous controls for experiments; Logical & rational analysis of the evidence & data; Open to consider challenging facts
  • Independent verification (peer review & repeatable results by other unbiased scientists)
  • Theories are constructed such that they are falsifiable
  • Intellectual integrity & honesty of its participants
  • No dogma or priestly authorities
  • Its adherents know the epistemological limits of true science (theories regarding the observable and measurable)
  • Allow open questioning and challenges to existing theories; Encourage independent and critical thinking; Doubt and true skepticism is encouraged; Understand that all theories are open to revision and overturning
  • There is no “settled science”; A theory’s results and conclusions are tentative; Constantly seeking and self-doubting; Open-minded
  • Evidence-based, empirical, objective results; Doesn’t claim to achieve absolute truth; Provides the best explanation possible given the evidence
  • Accurate results sensed, measured, or inferred from senses
  • Continually revises itself as new evidence and facts are discovered; Self-correcting
  • Objective knowledge of nature and the universe
  • Ability to say, “I don’t know”; Admission of fallibility

Science Done Improperly . . .

  • Fiercely uphold and defend the existing paradigm and its orthodox owners; Demand strict adherence to those paradigms by all students of academia
  • Punish anyone who challenges the current paradigm (demotions, banishment, firing/cancelling, ridicule/slander/personal-attacks)
  • Treats science as a body of ultimate truth (gospel; “settled science”); Censor or demand censorship of all dissenters; View anyone outside your specialty as unwashed masses not to be taken seriously or sources of valid knowledge
  • Treat the existing orthodox paradigm as the ultimate ideology; Claim your practitioners ARE science or that they “own” the science
  • Claim science can prove everything and has no limits; Push science as a matter of faith (“Trust the science”); Deify science; Claims that you’re an infallible body of knowledge
  • Do not allow questioning or challenges to the accepted paradigm and narratives;  Academia is a political, ideological and dogmatic organization; Paradigm owners must die before a paradigm is allowed to change and science can move forward; Worship “consensus,” “settled” science
  • Ultimately: Science as a dogmatic religion with an ‘expert’ priestly caste
  • Biased methodology; Faith-based approach that desires only to believe and bolster paradigmatic dogmas; The process and results are determined by the desires of their funders rather than objective truth
  • Base your observations and experiments around accepted, orthodox paradigm understanding; Don’t seek out alternative theories and models
  • Cherry picking of evidence & data; Suppress & ignore anomalous evidence; Publish false, misleading results
  • Experiments have shoddy controls and biased execution; Reject facts in favor of established premises/ideologies
  • Publish or perish causes shoddy research, data issues, statistical abuses and spurious correlations
  • Theories are not tested for falsifiability, nor constructed as such
  • Integrity is lacking due to blatant dogmatic beliefs and biases driving the process
  • Dogma and an academic priestly caste
  •  Scientism – the blind belief that science is the only path to all knowledge – even outside of traditional scientific fields
  • Paradigm worship; Adherents act like cultic religious zealots if their subjective paradigm is challenged; Truth = paradigm owners’ pronouncements; Encourage and reward paradigm thinking/belief; Demand obedience & thought submission
  • Considers “consensus science” as “settled science”; Never questions or challenges existing paradigms; Tone-deaf to other potential worldviews/paradigms
  • Considers its paradigms and pronouncements beyond question; Statements of beliefs often masqueraded as statements of fact
  • Inaccurate, incomplete, skewed, shoddy results driven by dogmatic proclamations
  • Refuses to revise itself, instead ignoring and suppressing opposing evidence
  • Subjective, biased beliefs in the existing paradigms & orthodox narratives
  • Always claims ultimate epistemological authority and infallibility

I’m in wondrous awe at the incredible discoveries and contributions to knowledge science has given to humanity since the religion-controlled dark ages. Science is absolutely incredible! Many of my heroes are scientists throughout history. We would most definitely still be operating in stupidity and ignorance were it not for the growth of science and the scientific method.

Science, however, is not practiced by infallible gods. It’s conducted by humans – complete with human frailties in reasoning, logic, cognitive biases, irrationalities, ego, greed, paradigms, laziness, fear, social/professional pressures, and epistemological faults. Just because someone is educated in science and employed in the academic/scientific realm doesn’t mean they aren’t going to make mistakes and have their brain clouded by paradigmatic dogma or other progress-stunting influences/threats – cognitive, psychological or otherwise.

Innovation blossoms in a culture willing to acquire new knowledge rather than being trapped in its past belief system. Why can’t all of science keep this precept in mind?

Just know . . . When Scientists and their devout supporters blindly adhere to defending the orthodox status-quo, who never question paradigm science, who ignore anomalous evidence, and who denigrate all challengers/dissenters presenting that anomalous evidence- they cease to be Scientists and instead become devout followers of “Scientism” (Dogma Disciples TM).

Quote image: Robert Oppenheimer, 1949

What to do about Scientism?

I actually feel sorry for Scientism’s devout followers (Dogma DisciplesTM). They’re blindly refusing to entertain and visit what most likely are the most incredible wonders and mysteries of the universe – simply because they can’t be studied and measured by today’s laboratory instruments and gauges, or they don’t match the claims of paradigm science, or those in power refuse to fund alternative theories.


We somehow need to revert back to the science of The Enlightenment which was perhaps less influenced and controlled by the state or institutional dogma. We need to fund alternative theories/models. We need to challenge all paradigms. We need to keep an open mind. We need not idolize paradigm owners.

Present the evidence. Analyze the evidence. Set-up controlled experiments and observations to falsify the theories and evidence. Let the evidence, experiments and results stand on their own merit and lead us to a clearer picture of objective reality. Work hard not to succumb to cognitive biases. Refuse to let corporate or government funding influence the final results. Stay true to the search for Truth.

I realize this is a pipe dream. Power structures that have been built over decades or centuries will not be dismantled voluntarily – regardless of the noble motives, desires or existence of serious anomalies.

Call me a dreamer . . .


Carpe diem friends!


Featured image: Dogma by Thomas Hawke, CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed


AgitProp Jan 15, 2022 04

Some relevant resources:

As with any sourcing on the internet, links can go ‘dead’ after a time. If you find the above-mentioned links no longer working, try the WayBack Machine:    It’s sometimes a good way to pull up and view websites that are no longer active.

Fair Use Notice:
– In good faith, this work contains fair use of copyrighted and non-copyrighted images from the public domain & the web for non-commercial & nonprofit educational purposes.
– This work is distributed free of charge.
– The author has neither monetized this work nor sought any profit from its distribution.
– Copyright disclaimer under section 107 of the copyright act 1976: Allowance is made for “Fair Use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statutes that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.
– This work contains original work of commentary, education and critical analysis.