Saturday, September 14, 2019

Reclaiming Our Imaginations

Here is an interesting article just posted in Aeon with regards to the creative aspect of science. The article laments the apparent subjugation of imagination in scientific work, and the title poses a question that every skeptic and atheist knows the answer to.
Why is the imaginative aspect of science "treated as a secret?"
Aside from the obvious need to try to link ideas with the empirical world, the enemies of science are the primary reason. Religious dogmatists are relentlessly trying to make science look like "just another narrative" to discredit in order to prop up their anti-human flights of sheer fantasy.
In the same vein, every atheist knows that theists are always trying, quite obviously incorrectly, to place atheism on the same slippery epistemological ground the theists themselves are always teetering on. Theists constantly claim that atheism is just another "faith," just like theirs is.
Any hint of the imaginative creative aspect of scientific thought is a battleground between the scientists and the relentlessly hawkish theists trying to discredit science by any means they can find. If the theist senses a creative process at work in developing hypotheses, they spring to the attack, completely oblivious to the obvious fact that science has that one essential rule that theists routinely ignore and denigrate - the linking of the creative process to empirical reality, falsifiability (a concept theists despise for obvious reason).
Religious belief is not constrained by reality, theists imagine, and therefore is free to run wildly amok in the demented minds of zealots. The idea of placing an arbiter (reality) over their wildly absurd normative demands is their antithesis. The integrity of the scientific hypothesis is beyond their grasp, so let the scourging plague of theistic nonsense begin!
And that is the reason why science must always clearly delineate between the descriptive and the prescriptive. But that is a slightly deeper topic for another time.
The imaginative aspect of science is "treated as a secret" because enemies of science are constantly looking for a weakness to exploit.
This is also why some atheists try to sound as certain as theists pretend to be. To be careful to distinguish between what can be known and what cannot is seen as weakness by theists and the audience they seek to control. This is especially important in the labyrinthine rhetorical scuffle that is public discussion. We atheists have to sound as confident in our claims as they do, or risk being trounced in the public arena of rhetoric. Theists leave atheists little room for more subtle and essential inquiries.
Theist claim such grounds as theirs in the realm perhaps the most important, deeper inquiries. Of course theists are quite ill-suited to conduct such inquiries honestly (theists constantly want to twist discussions into compliance with their normative claims rather than accept reality as an arbiter over their petulant demands).
The rhetorical battleground demands that we abandon the more subtle ground of skeptical understanding and inquiry in favour of presenting a stronger rhetorical position. For the same reason, science must appear to rigidly constrain the imaginative aspect of hypothesis creation.