It is time for scientists to come forth with a theodicy of Science.
God, when believers doubt, has to be explained and excused for the ills of his kingdom; then so does any replacement to God.
Science did all it could to get rid of God. It fought against the dark side of religion, for a luminous reign of reason. It taught us not to serve God but to serve ourselves. Or... was it ourselves? Perhaps something else?
With reason, Science rose to disenchant the world  and to replace God. It was very successful in this. The same way Religion instituted a deity-centred view of the world which gave a special meaning to human life, Science brought a new perspective and new meaning to life. Now, the new vision reigns.
Today most people - including believers - have confidence in whatever scientists affirm and follow most of their advice; but not because scientists justify belief with facts and reason. Not because science offers experimental proofs. Not because Science thinks properly. The reasons and facts of science, its proofs, its theories of everything, became much too complicated and out of reach for the common mortal mind; almost as far away as the Heavens.
People believe scientists because this is what they received, by habit, imitation and trust, because of science’s authority; as they believed the priests before. And that is enough. Or is it?
Science is omniscient – potentially. We learn in school that knowing everything is only a matter of time; the advance of knowledge is inexorable.
Science is also omnipotent – potentially. As the miracles of technology show, yesterday’s impossible is possible today or will be tomorrow.
But Science is good, in its own terms, because it freed our mind from superstition and proved to be so useful to us to achieve things; Science is good because it promises freedom of knowledge, knowing how things really are and how they work, knowing what we do, to serve intelligent action and progress. Science is also just because it serves impartial Truth impersonally, reality as it is, the new ultimate value.
Science is very promising, indeed:
it reassures us that there is order in the Universe and in our world, that the world is understandable and coherent,
that everything is foreseeable by laws and statistics.
Moreover Science promised us - and proved in part - that we are powerful; we can change our world, even the planet.
Science is our great, impersonal, disinterested, servant.
Beyond this homage of merit a second thought haunts me: is Science not serving something else, instead of us, say, Truth and Knowledge for their own sake? Ideas? Another art for the sake of art?
If fact, science is non-moral, beyond moral, as it is impersonal. Unfortunately, science did not discover yet the the material particles and causalities from which Ethics are made. What? Does this sound a nietzschean ring?
I mind my words: Our new God, Science deserves, needs, to be defended;
Theologians of Science, not activists, not the devout must face some accusations and prove them false, in understandable terms:
If Science is omniscient, omnipotent and good - and omnipresent too - why is there so much evil, misery and injustice in the world where it rules?
Since Science, like God, knows potentially everything, can potentially everything, and is certain to be good, as it leaves no space for alternative views of the world, the high priests of science will have to explain us why is it that this world conquered by science does not become more understandable, better and happier?
Why is the human being still so wretched?
Why are we still such fools?
Why aren’t people better with science?
Why is humanity so stupid after learning so much truth?
Why do we seem to head to destruction?
What is the wisdom science teaches to us in order to live a life worth living? Is science wise in her understanding of the world? Is Science wise in what it does?
Someone please stand up and defend Science; not against the dark enslavers of freedom of thought, knowledge and speech but from the accusation of arrogance, narrow-mindedness, amorality, irresponsibility and wrongdoing.
Please, explain the impression contemporary science gives that as everything which can be known must be known, so everything that can be said must be said and everything that can be done must be done.
Isn’t this playing god?
Why are scientists working so well for the worst causes?
Who keeps the priests of science free of corruption?
Why does science serve so obviously greed, power and violence?
Why is science ruled by money if it is so sacred?
Why does science serve ambition, dispute and pride?
Why is science such a permanent danger of unleashing something that cannot be stopped and which would result in the destruction of the planet and of humanity?
Why is science so intolerant with error and ignorance - in the name of its own unique truth - as intolerant as the religious bigots are with each other?
Our disobedient critical sense needs answers to all this.
Religions promised us good news, without proof, always undecidable; that good actions are rewarded and bad ones punished, that we will live after death, forever, in a better world. Hope. We need hope.
What is the good news of science? That we are not souls but mere biological machines made of spare parts? That death is annihilation, and even the Planet, nay, the Universe is doomed? That in the cosmic infinity we are specks of nothing, so that in good reason, nothing really counts? That our whole history is a little spit compared to the Big History of Earth and of life on it? That nature’s way is the law of the strongest and the selection of the fittest? Where is the hope in all this?
Do we science-bred generations need to pray and wait for a techno-future life or a last judgement revolution after which all will be well in a better world protected from us?
Maybe a theodicy of science will be, after all, easier to do than God's: science does not really know all yet, cannot all, yet, it only hopes to do, in an ever receding future, all being well before the implosion of the Universe. Maybe it cannot be all-good either because it is human, so human: or because it is not human enough, yet.
Not science, but persons, certain scientists, do evil with science as believers do wrong in the name of God.
On reflection, it could be made more clear for the mortals that Science is not God, perhaps that it is merely one human endeavour among several others, limited to what it does well and able to recognise it with modesty. It takes courage and honesty but it is not impossible to learn to say "I do not know." from time to time. Maybe science should confess and draw clearly its limits and borders, the many important things that are not its business. Then it would not need a theodicy. The confusion of considering Science responsible for everything could be dispelled.
Some will brush my critique aside, saying that I did not understand, that my mind is clouded by ignorance and vulgar irrationality, but I say that this is how I understand it**, and other people may think silently the same in a quietly growing spiral of silence. A dangerous spiral, I would say. Like it or not, a theodicy of science is timely. I hope a saviour Nobel prised genius will rise who will do it soon.
Why do I write this? To defend the ground under my feet! I grew up with Science, led and protected by its ideals. Now I see signs of its view of the world declining into another disenchanted ideology, that brings another end of era. If Reason keeps being too proud publicly (I know that the best scientific and philosophical minds know better that that) then pride will fall; it will fall to the worst enemies of us all - the Beast.
There may be more truth than merit in criticising the unwisdom of science in the XXth century, but I feel deeply that this work must be done, in the interest of Science and of Reason. Science deserves to be defended. A time of changing idols seems to come again. A troubled century ahead for our children.
Weber, Max (1919), Le savant et le politique, Paris, Union Générale d’Éditions, 1963, p 14
* Universum Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria, www.heikenwaelder.at
**I would prefer not to be stoned or burned, according to time-honoured traditions, for my words against the divinity of the day. If needed, better drown me in silence. We are civilised people, aren’t we?