“In God We Trust” declares the American motto.
And what god would that be, pray tell? Last I counted there were lots. Can I pick one?
Can I pick the one who lifts up the poor and pulls the mighty from their thrones, the one who builds bridges and tears down walls, the one who welcomes refugees and forgives debts, the one who orders military machines crushed and refashioned into plows?
No! You can’t pick that one, silly! That’s not the god “we” have in mind. Not. At. All.
So then, pray tell, who do you mean by “we”?
Not me, apparently. Not most of us. No one asked us what motto we wanted. If they had, we might have said: In Love We Trust. That would be nice. But In Science We Trust wouldn’t be bad either.
I, for one, trust science.
I trust the priesthood of science for our salvation. I trust the wizards of science, scoping petri dishes, testing vaccines. I trust the prophets of science, even when they prophesy doom and gloom. Truth is not always convenient or soothing.
(False prophets of old proclaimed, “Peace, Peace,” when there was no peace.)
I trust governors who trust science. I trust mayors who trust science. I trust shopkeepers who trust science. I trust neighbors who trust science.
I don’t trust politicians who bow to mammon and polls. I don’t trust Bible-waving preachers with flag pins on their lapels. I don’t trust quacks. I don’t trust a president with his nose in the air one minute, his head in the sand the next, and now hydroxychloroquine on his breath.
To be sure, scientists get things wrong. Sometimes the priesthood of science inflicts harm. After all, among them are frauds, bullies, and narcissists. I don’t expect perfection or piety, for under every lab coat is a human being.
Still, I trust scientists to make things right when they get things wrong. Unlike religious dogmatists, scientists are skeptical, even of themselves and their findings. I like that. That’s humility. And so I trust the (truly) catholic community of scientists to be forthright, honest, self-correcting, and unselfish.
None of us can know everything or much of anything at all by ourselves. So we must trust someone, especially when the stakes are high.
I trust scientists. And poets who see what science can’t.
Check out Paula’s bird photo montage on the home page.