Science is a process for finding truth in our material world. The blossoming of science occurred in Medieval Europe and continued to flourish until the early part of the last century, almost exclusively in the Western world. This was not coincidental.
The combination of the ancient Greek desire for free inquiry combined with the Judeo-Christian belief in an orderly universe and, most vitally, the Judeo-Christian primary value of honesty created in poor, small Europe explosions in thought that the old, rich empires of the East could not achieve.
It is also not an accident that the overwhelming majority of early great scientists were either among a small pool of ancient Greeks – essentially Pythagoras, Archimedes, and Euclid – or among especially devout Medieval Christians – (Friar) Roger Bacon, (Bishop) Jean Buridan, (Bishop) Robert Grosseteste, (Father) Nicolai Copernicus, and (Canon) Galileo.
Because these profoundly devout Christians considered physics and mathematics simply another manifestation of a holy and ordered Creation, they never worshipped science. Lying was a sin, and lying about the nature of the world was a particularly serious sin, because it knowingly concealed the true nature of the world.
Within the Medieval university was that same sort of freedom and mutual respect that had never existed before except in the academy of Plato. As with the academy, the Medieval university had schools of thought and different interpretations of what phenomena meant. This was science.
Scientism, on the other hand, is a vile misology that arose at the end of the nineteenth century and has infected those processes intended to discover the truth about our world ever since. The most evil and dishonest regimes in modern history – Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and Maoist China – were all utterly and passionately devoted to whatever pseudo-science was needed to support the party.
Often these regimes cranked out huge numbers of physicists, mathematicians, engineers, and related hard science disciplines, but it is not the quantity of trained scientists, but the quality of their environment that matters. We were afraid, at the beginning of the Cold War, that the hordes of physicists and engineers that the Soviet Union turned out would leave America behind. In fact, science did much better under the tsars than the Soviets.
Scientism is ossified and reactionary. There are never schools of thought, for example, in scientistic regimes. Honesty and integrity cannot survive, because honest inquiry is always punished and because the atheism at the heart of regimes of this sort means that there is no moral restraint regarding experiments, observation and the presentation of other explanations for data.
The left has pushed us farther and farther away from science and toward scientism. When our attorney general seriously ponders criminal prosecution against scientists who challenge the prevailing orthodoxy of man-made global warming, when universities drive out scientists who question global warming, when the state rewrites historic temperature data so that the revised data conforms to global warming, when the "proof" of global warming consists of what a certain percentages of scientists support, then scientism as supplanted science.
Why has this happened? First, everything today is political, including science. Second, treating the Judeo-Christian religious tradition as poppycock means that the vital check on dishonesty that comes from fear of a morally serious God is nonexistent in the minds of many scientists. Third, as the lust for power overwhelms all decent human instincts and scientism becomes a very simple path to power, the aim of seeking truth fades and then dies.
All of those factors are present in leftism today; every issue is political, honesty is nonexistent, and power is everything. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, we are sliding into a new Dark Age. This grim fact is something many of us feel about modern life. Those toxins in cognition and integrity that are the heart of leftism have infected many other areas of life and are strangling science to death. That is precisely what the left wants.