Politically Correct Science

Would you believe that algebra is sexist? Yes, it is—at least according to the new allegations of the politically correct crowd. Even mathematics, it seems, has to be "sensitized." This latest PC complaint is that algebra reflects a male bias. This charge is based on algebra books that use phrases like "attacking a problem," "manipulating an expression," or "exploiting a theorem." The PC critics say that aggression, violence, and domination are merely male traits. These examples of how "political correctness" is affecting even the hard sciences are reported in a new book, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science. The authors, Paul Gross and Norman Levitt, are scientists who worry that political correctness could undermine scientific research and writing. The authors report that "deconstructionists," who claim that language doesn't embody truthful information but only cultural biases, now say that science also is just a language game. It doesn't tell us what is true. Then there are the feminists. They say science reflects male aggression against "Mother Nature." Animal-rights activists condemn science for "privileging" human beings over plants and animals. Multiculturalists say science is only a bias of Western culture, and that even tribal superstitions are equal to Western methods. All of these critics of science share the views of what is called postmodernism. Since the Greeks, Western thinkers have believed truth exists, and since the eighteenth century they have believed it could be discovered by reason and research. However, mainly because this modern view has not solved all our problems, there now are thinkers, called postmodernists, who have despaired and argue there is no such thing as objective truth. All "truth claims" are only somebody's opinion or bias. And they want to rewrite our history and remake our institutions to reflect their view. Gross and Levitt refute this postmodern skepticism by showing that scientific knowledge is not biased, that it is not merely arbitrary, and that science is based on what is empirically discovered about created things. You and I need to understand what is at stake in attacks on the very concept of truth. Because political correctness isn't just some "Ivory Tower" silliness. It's actually the latest assault of skepticism on the very foundations of truth. And it's creeping into the textbooks our children use in school—even into algebra textbooks. So we need to keep informed of these debates. We really are engaged in a "Culture War" over the very existence of truth. On one side are those who say there is no truth. On the other side are those who know that our whole Western tradition is based on God's revelation, the belief in an orderly universe that can be explored and understood. Without this confidence, our children will be enslaved to ignorance. They also will be enslaved to the social-engineering schemes that are the real purpose of politically correct revisionists. Human reason is a gift of God. When Christians add to it the gifts of revelation and spiritual discernment, the whole truth about life may be known. That truth is what you and I are called to know—and to defend—even in your child's algebra class.


Chuck Colson


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