/Are scientists the new priests? Faith in science in the times of COVID-19

Are scientists the new priests? Faith in science in the times of COVID-19

Summary: The philosopher Yuval Noah Harari, author of Homo Deus, reflects on how our way of thinking about illness and death will change after the coronavirus pandemic.

Original author and publication date: Beatriz Garcia – April 21, 2020

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Should we talk about “faith” in science? Perhaps we should say “trust” on the work of scientists. Is science an entity (benign or otherwise) for us to trust?

ISIS (Intelligent Spacecraft Interface Systems) Laboratory – Jeff McCandless, PHD Scientist (seated) and Robert McCann, PHD Scientist (standing) Source: NASA

From the article:

Woody Allen was once asked if he hoped to live forever in the memory of fans, to which the comedian, who has an atrocious fear of death, replied: “I’d rather keep living in my apartment.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the way we relate and our hygiene habits, but also made us aware of our own fragility and the holes in our health policies. But even so, many things have changed in our way of facing the catastrophe. If before, resignation and fear of God were the ways we submitted ourselves to the ravages of a pandemic, now it is indignation and hope that are the keys to this era we live in.

This was stated in an article published in The Guardian by the eminent philosopher Yuval Noah Harari, the author of the best-selling book Homo Deus, who warned that the only ones who put the emphasis on death and not on prolonging life are nationalists and these individuals “do not really know what to do with it.”

In short, what Harari analyzes in a profound way is the old saying of “Dead God; New God”; or how religions have given way amid the scientific revolution to a new way of seeing our mortality as “a technical failure” that has a solution and not a divine design.

“While traditionally death was the specialty of priests and theologians in black cassocks, now it is people in white lab coats,” said Harari. In other words, it is not a question of giving meaning to death, but of extending life by researching the microbiological, physiological and genetic systems responsible for disease and old age, and by developing revolutionary new medicines and treatments.

COVID-19, a glitch in the system
Every day we receive thousands of news items not only about the incessant trickle of death and infection, but also about the scientific advances that various laboratories and governments are making to find a COVID-19 vaccine, something that we know is going to happen – we have faith in it – but not when.

“Our heroes are not the priests who bury the dead and excuse the calamity – our heroes are the doctors who save lives. And our superheroes are the scientists in the laboratories,” he said.

“Just as film fans know that Spider-Man and Wonder-Woman will eventually defeat the bad guys and save the world, we are sure that in a few months, maybe a year, people in the labs will find effective treatments for COVID-19 and even a vaccine. Then we will show this nasty coronavirus who is the alpha organism of this planet! The question on everyone’s lips, from the White House, through Wall Street, to the balconies of Italy is: ‘When will the vaccine be ready?’ When. Not if.”

READ the complete original article here.