Blog 126: In Defense of Western Civilization and Science

Pierre Marchand


In recent years, our civilization has been the target of severe criticism from various ideological currents. They demand reparations. They demand that apologies be made for this or that action in the past. White people are guilty of all the evils in the world: poverty, inequality, racism, climate change, etc. Yes, Western civilization is not perfect and it has a lot of failings to answer for, in the present as well as the past. Nevertheless I affirm that our civilization is the least bad of all.

Indeed, was western civilization not the very first in the history of humanity to prohibit slavery, to promulgate human rights, to advocate equality between men and women, to defend the rights of LGBT, to abolish the death penalty, to ban torture? Heir to more than a thousand years of Judeo-Christian thought, it reconnects with the philosophers of antiquity and Greco-Roman culture. Since the Enlightenment, western civilization has advocated logic; the superiority of reason over obscurantism, faith and beliefs; and facts over fictions. It has given birth to the liberal regimes which we know today. It is the only one that can be criticized from within without incurring State repression (anyone who would dare to criticize religion or the State in other countries in the world would be quickly imprisoned, re-educated, tortured, etc.).

Our civilization gave birth to modern science which in 200 years has allowed humanity to advance from the horse-drawn carriage to the exploration of Mars, from the feather plume and parchment to the smartphone. It has taught us to harness energy in order to provide electricity to almost the entire planet.

Who can do better? We should be proud of our civilization rather than ashamed. We must not allow wokism or other movements to guilt-trip us.

Wokism rejects science as a power structure which oppresses the weak. But science is knowledge, observable and measurable, it is truth according to the current state of this knowledge and to the extent that humans can reach the truth, since everything it affirms is subject to verification. Science observes, science measures. Science does not seek to oppress. Science is the fruit of human curiosity. It is politicians (emperors, kings, despots, tyrants, dictators and rulers of all kinds) and religions that oppress, not science. Replacing science with conspiracy theories or baseless ramblings will not solve humanity’s problems, on the contrary. As atheists, we reject religious beliefs, but we must avoid replacing them with equally fallacious ideologies.

It is insane how people trust science when it comes to using their cell phone, GPS or the internet—but that trust evaporates when science turns out to be contrary to their opinions, beliefs or ideology. This is as true for anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, flat-earthers, climate-skeptics, creationists, occultists and the woke as it is for religious believers. They use the tools produced by science in order to denigrate science. This is as absurd as using a telephone to send a message that telephony is impossible.

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