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Alien Encounters - Last Word: The Humbling of Science

Gavin Hitchcock

Scene:     The spirit of PASCAL in the afterlife.

PASCAL [to audience]25

Was I wrong then to cry out against the arrogant presumption of those who set themselves to pry into the secrets of Nature? No - I was simply obedient to my own calling, and spoke to those who were (like me) in danger of being seduced, by the power of our own reason and the glory of our growing knowledge of the Universe, into loving Science more than God.

Of course my message was not the whole truth of the matter - the full story on any issue is never committed to only one messenger. Thus we learn humility in our interdependence on one another, and find the joy of community. It is wonderful what the scientists have achieved in the century since I lived on earth and uttered my warnings - a grand vision of the Universe emerges as a vast mechanism subject to universal laws which beautifully describe its operations and predict its future state.

But the temptation has crept into men's hearts to elevate the mechanism above the Maker of it, to worship the created thing in place of the Creator. D'Alembert and Diderot and their friends consider themselves to live in the great Age of Enlightenment, while, beholding only the reflected light and not the true Light that lightens every man, their minds have actually become darkened! The time will come when the mystery - the Cloud of Unknowing - shall return. Then, the contents of their great Encyclopédie will appear as infantile scribblings before a greater vision of the Universe: laws beyond present imagining, design beyond our conceiving; and science will be humbled once again.


Gavin Hitchcock , "Alien Encounters - Last Word: The Humbling of Science," Convergence (May 2011)