Warning: I may go scorched earth here.
The longer I live, the more important the wisdom of Goethe is to me. If Dostoevsky believed that beauty would save the world, Goethe has shown to me that poetry—or seeing the world as a poet sees it—is the method by which one saves it. Goethe was not only a poet and philosopher, he was also a scientist; and his phenomenological method may be his most important contribution to posterity. One saying of his has lived with me throughout my adult life: “He who possesses science and art also has religion; but he who possesses neither of those two, let him have religion!” Everything I’ve done in Sophiology is informed by this statement, which is why the subtitle of The Submerged Reality is “Sophiology and the Turn to a Poetic Metaphysics.”
I write this because recently a Catholic blogger decided to trash-talk me when someone on social media quoted a blogpost I wrote a few years ago on Catholicism not being a religion but a field. The blogger had nothing to say about the blogpost or the quotation, only that I am “anti-vax” and “anti-science.” I’ll own the anti-vax part. My wife and I were vax-hesitant with our children, though the older few did get some of the “childhood [sic] vaccines,” but when our middle child was injured by a vaccine as an infant, we abandoned the society of the vaccine-positive. Any parent would do the same. Without getting too exhaustive, concerning the recent mRNA iterations, rushed to market (note the metaphor) without the usual years of testing, I can name quite a few people in my immediate circle who have had bad reactions to the shots: 1) my nephew, who went temporarily deaf from the first dose; 2) his wife, who has had C-19 three times despite being triple-dosed; 3) one of my dearest friends, who has had HIV-like symptoms since her second jab last summer; 4) the 20-year-old daughter of another friend who went into anaphylactic shock one week after receiving each dose and had to be hospitalized both times, and who now has widespread allergies when she had none before. I could go on. Some people, sadly, accept this as collateral damage. “Sucks to be people that happened to, but it’s keeping most of us safe.” How Utilitarian. Others argue that there’s no proof and that correlation does not equal causation. Well, you can’t find proof if no one is looking for it, for one thing. As for correlation and causation, a personal story:
Once about ten years ago, I was at an academic conference. I picked up an everything bagel and a coffee at the refreshment table and took my seat. Halfway through the first presenter, I broke out in hives—hives so bad that I had to rush to a drug store to get an antihistamine. I had never broken out in hives before. A few months later, it happened again after I’d eaten humus. Then I figured it out: I had somehow developed an allergy to sesame seeds. I didn’t go to a doctor to confirm this; it was easy to figure out by deduction. But it still bums me out because I love sesame butter so much.
As for calling me anti-science—well, that’s complete bullshit.
First of all, I am a biodynamic farmer, and farming, if anything, is a kind of science. I work with Natura. Every. Single. Day. Secondly, my third son is a Ph.D. scientist (which explodes the myth that “homeschooled kids can’t do science,” btw), and while that doesn’t make me a professional scientist any more than being the father of girls makes me a woman, it does show that mine is a household open to inquiry and wonder (I’m sure his becoming a scientist, as he admits, has a lot to do with growing up catching snakes and turtles and frogs and taking care of farm animals).
In fact, science is one of my primary interests. My first book, Literature and the Encounter with God in Post-Reformation England, features out of its six individuals under consideration, no fewer than four scientists—John Dee, Sir Kenelm Digby, and Thomas and Henry Vaughan. Of course their versions of early modern science have much in common with alchemy, but especially Dee and Digby were among the leading scientists of their day. In The Submerged Reality I write about the science of the 17th century natural philosopher Robert Fludd as well as about Goethe and Rudolf Steiner. In Transfiguration I have a chapter entitled “A Delicate Empiricism: Goethe, Sophiology, and the Possibilities of a Catholic Science.” There is also a section on science in my sophiological casebook, The Heavenly Country. So don’t hand me this “anti-science” nonsense.
Really, my interlocutor’s accusations are absurd, not only because of my track record, but also because science as it is today is anything but a univocal belief system. I have been appalled—as everyone should be—at how esteemed mainstream scientists and physicians have been canceled and deplatformed for opposing the “official line” coming from various governmental and nongovernmental agencies over the past two years. I also find the performative altruism of BigPharma risible. Call me crazy, but I just can’t take seriously that the guys and dolls who brought us the opioid crisis have suddenly become the benefactors of humanity. This is certainly connected to my absolute disdain for vulture capitalism—even more egregious when married to socialism (which is the portrait drawn in Huxley’s Brave New World)—and that is the crowning feature of our new world order.
To be honest, while I love science, what we see in the corporate-governmental-pharmaceutical superstructure is a demonic parody of the altruism of which science is capable. But this is nothing new. Look at all (or nearly all) of the major problems we face—environmental degradation foremost among them—and without devoting too much speculation to it, you will find that they were all created by “science” (which is not science, really, but capitalism or fascism with a syringe). And don’t even get me started on transhumanism. This is not hard to figure out.
What I have been arguing throughout my writing on science is that the science we now have—materialistic and often exploitative—is not what science could (or should) be, and that it has become this way by being cut off from the realm of the spirit, the realm of Sophia. I am not the first to say this. The Vaughans and Fludd said so in the 17th century; Goethe said it in the 18th and 19th; David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake, and Brian Josephson (among others) have said so in our own day.
So don’t hand me this “anti-science” bullshit. It’s just a little bit of nothing.
You saw this coming.
Michael’s latest book is Sophia in Exile. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Divine Feminine. There are also a few spots open in the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening as Christian Path course being offered at the end of April. See more here.