Letter: Scientific rationalism harms, as well as helps, our world

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The Independent Online
Sir: The self-righteousness of Steve Connor's open letter to Sister Marie Gabriel (14 July) is rivalled only by that of the dear Sister herself. So 'scientific rationalism' is our salvation from fear and ignorance. Well, with the continuing poverty and countless wars, you could have fooled me.

And scientific understanding shows us that the universe is far more complicated than we can ever imagine. So what? Does that knowledge teach me how to live? Does scientific rationalism show me how to love and care for myself, my family, my community, my enemies, even? I think not; for this I need a faculty that is deeper than mere knowledge. I need wisdom.

Deranged and simplistic as it may sound, Sister Marie Gabriel's message is not so far removed from what ecologists and other scientists have been telling us for decades: unless we get our act together fairly soon, it's curtains for us. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 will probably come and go, but that doesn't mean the danger will have passed.

To paraphrase Socrates, whether the City of God has existed, or ever will exist, on Earth is of no matter. But I must live after the manner of such a city and, in so doing, put my own house in order. I leave Sister Marie Gabriel and Mr Connor to do the same.

Yours faithfully


Consultant Psychiatrist

Dunfermline, Fife

14 July

(Photograph omitted)