Are scientists perceived as unwise?

June 2, 2009

Rounding out my NYTimes tribute, here’s science writer Dennis Overbye, who isn’t sure what to do with science vs. spirituality in Angels and Demons:

Mr. Hanks as the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon has just exposed the archvillain who was threatening to blow up the Vatican with antimatter stolen from a particle collider. A Catholic cardinal who has been giving him a hard time all through the movie and has suddenly turned twinkly-eyed says a small prayer thanking God for sending someone to save them.

Mr. Hanks replies that he doesn’t think he was “sent.”

Of course he was, he just doesn’t know it, the priest says gently. Mr. Hanks, taken aback, smiles in his classic sheepish way. Suddenly he is not so sure.

This may seem like a happy ending. Faith and science reconciled or at least holding their fire in the face of mystery. But for me that moment ruined what had otherwise been a pleasant two hours on a rainy afternoon. It crystallized what is wrong with the entire way that popular culture regards science.

Namely:

After all is said and done, it seems to imply, having faith is just a little bit better than being smart.

It’s interesting how often us science types perceive non-scientific values as an attack on our chosen way of knowing the world.

Advertisements

One Response to “Are scientists perceived as unwise?”

  1. james Says:

    are “symbologists” real scientists?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: