Science, Covid, and the Future

March 29, 2021

In the twelve months of the global Covid pandemic, we have learned much about ourselves as a civilization, perhaps even as a species: our vulnerability, for instance, or how to respond effectively to a massive public thread, also about the willingness of many to make sacrifices on a large scale for the common good.

One aspect has received far less recognition than it deserves: the increasing dependence of modern society on science for its future survival. At the same time, interest in science among high school students is declining at an alarming rate.

In an interview with the American business magazine Forbes, world-famous theoretical physicist Brian Greene was very critical of the trend. Putting the finger on the cause, this is what he said: “We don’t spend enough time taking the students out to the farthest reaches of the cosmos or into the inner workings of the molecules within our bodies. Instead, we quickly focus their attention on technical details, so that we can assess them more easily.” Read the full article here.

In other words, our education system trades the opportunity of getting students excited about the wonders of the world we live in for a collection of pre-digested “facts” that deliver right and wrong answers in exams.

Tragically, this approach dulls their imagination, turns them away from science, and produces a distorted public view of science in the long run. As a result, the scientific enterprise remains unrecognized for what it is in our time, despite its life-preserving potential.

What occupies my mind and occasionally even disturbs my sleep is the chasm between the exciting new story of the universe the sciences are writing and the unresponsiveness of fellow Christians when it comes to embracing the new story with the enthusiasm it deserves. Another tragic omission!


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