“The truth” versus the truth

I’m breaking it into pieces, because it’s a large subject. Thomas Dixon also said

 I stand by my emphasis on the political aspects of all of this. Claims about the nature of reality and who has the authority to discover and describe it, and by what methods, are questions about power, and thus political. I don’t say that the Scopes or Galileo cases were nothing but politics, but I do say they were political.

That’s true, but incomplete. That’s where the postmodern turn does its turning: in treating that idea (despite the disclaimer) as if it were complete, or if not complete then of predominating interest.

The claim itself is in fact political. It’s a useful claim; useful to people who want to make science a matter of power rather than one of inquiry and evidence, of politics rather than truth. Yes, of course, priests and scientists are in some sense competing for “power”; their rivalry is certainly political (though a good deal more political on the religious side than the scientific side, which is not surprising, since politics and power are all religions have); but science, at any rate, is fundamentally about something else, so making power central just does obfuscate the real issues.

Power and politics are ultimately irrelevant, because whoever wins, whoever is stronger, the truth is what it is. Power can decide “the truth” but it can’t determine the truth.

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