Can we Separate Science from Ideology – No

When science was in its infancy, ideology was thousands of years old. Science was supposed to be the opposite of ideology, something to put the world in a ‘rational perspective’. Scientists were supposed to be men of rational thought, who would measure the universe and everything in it, thus putting an end to blind faith’. That was then, this is now.

Science has reached a level at which it is becoming increasingly apparent that the conclusions of scientists have far reaching philosophical ramifications. Mathematicians are facing the possibility that God may exists in the calculations they make. Physicists are seeking a unification of theories that will either make God a certainty or an impossibility. Life itself is being sought under the microscope. Every facet of existence is being explored in the realm of science, with startling and, perhaps, ominous results.

What do we believe if science prove that violence and bigotry are caused by genes that may be removed or suppressed? Can we be as certain of our philosophy if we learn that color, intelligence, physical prowess and any other trait can be engineered in the laboratory? What if Science learn to modify genetic structures in adult creatures? These questions belong in a discussion of ethics as much as science. I have not even touched on the traits that conventional religion condemns. Homosexuality, criminal intent, sexual predation and other activity that is considered illegal, immoral or just unethical may be controlled genetically. We will have to blend science and ideology into a coherent structure to be able to decide what science is allowed to do, from among the choices it will provide.

If ideology be considered the body of doctrines, myths, beliefs, and the like, that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group, then we must add science to the mix. When you are directing a social movement by some political and/or social plan, such as fascism, communism or socialism and guiding the devices for implementing such plans, you must deal with science. We are past the point of being able to discuss social order and racial characteristics without considering the scientific data and realistically examining any ideological premise with respect to its scientific merit. We have begun to know things that past generations could only accept on faith.

The set of common values and beliefs shared by most people in a given society has been referred to as the dominant ideology. When these beliefs begin to be shaped by scientific exploration and theory, then the dominant ideology becomes the current scientific theory. Scientific theory, and knowledge, has a way of changing, as new tools are developed and new ideas are professed. Such dynamism is alien to social ideas in general, and to society in particular. The ancient Chinese curse points this up dramatically, ” May you live in interesting times.” People do not care for change. They may call for change in government policy, or in the way tax money is spent, but this is surface change. A radical change in lifestyle or belief will be met by radical opposition. This causes problems in the pursuit of Science as it collides with ideology.

For centuries scientists accepted the premise by Aristotle that a barrel of ashes could be poured into a barrel of water without overflowing the water, until someone got around to attempting the experiment. Currently the experiments outstrip theory, so much so that theories have to be constructed to explain experimental results. In classical times, experiments were conducted to prove or disprove theories. Now that computers make possible experimentation involving unsuspecting groups of human beings, and theories concerning behavior and choice are based on hard scientific data, we are approaching that place where science and ideology are not only inseparable, but become indistinguishable. I half expect to see a theory of God being postulated by a learned Physicist almost any day.

I would hope that Science and Ideology are asymptotically equivalent as n approaches infinity but I lack deterministic algorithms or randomized algorithms in support of this. The very fact that such algorithms probably exists makes my point precisely. When one adds to the equation the fact that divergence is not excluded in computational complexity theory, it follows that even the question of science versus ideology can be studied scientifically. If we can know with certainty, what we believe, should believe, can believe and do not believe, is science separable from ideology?