The science has changed.
We just needed more rotation on the Earth, is all.
Huddled around microscopes with glass tubes and vials bubbling above Bunsen burners, the White Coats whispered.
“What hath we wrought?” they asked, their voices edged with excitement and wonder.
Below the lip of the lens on the microscope lay a glass slide with innocuous liquid. It could’ve been water or tea, but the camera that broadcast the specimen onto a large flat screen so all could see revealed something much more than Earl Gray.
Day after day they’d gathered in the laboratory, testing and working their pipettes with a flourish, centrifuges and cultures manipulated like a fine orchestra working their way through the movements.
Was this the first movement? The second? The final?
Each day, the view on the flat screen changed until the momentous day when the lab maestro raised the baton and the sterile bottles were loaded onto trucks and out the door.
But then the earth circled the sun and came back to where it had been, and the White Coats, still looking earnestly at samples under their microscopes—though a very different kind—were also sifting through spreadsheets and reports. There was a different air about them. Some were making hushed phone calls to their stockbrokers.
The orchestra was missing the brass section, and the woodwinds were collapsing. November was fast approaching, and the science had changed.
How do you measure the passage of time? Rotation of the earth on its axis and around the sun? Clock? Photos that show chubby young faces changing to sagging wrinkles? The election cycle? Tracking your next payday? Through the seasonal restraints that come with horticulture?
At a Bible study last year, in which I was trying to meet new people and find some new friends ever since leaving my church of seven years just before the pandemic, I posed a question.
“I think about time a lot,” I said, trying to add to a discussion about God and his timing. “Bending it, looping it—what does linear time look like to someone who is outside of it? Who created it?”
I didn’t meet new friends during that Bible study. But my obsession with thinking about time trickles into the question at hand: How do you change the science?
“You must do all these things because science,” said Monday.
“We are still following the science,” said Tuesday, nervously wondering if it was actually animate and was leading us to extinction.
“The science has changed,” said Friday.
How does the science change?
Just as it always has, through the passage of time.
The science never changes. Our understanding of it—and political will to understand—is what changes.
We disagree over historical science (origins, evolution), but you’d think we could all agree on observational science if we agreed to the scientific method. As we’ve learned, this is not the case.
Observational science isn’t just about what you observe. It’s about what you’re willing to observe, and to what ends.
The problem is that, in the heavy-handedness of “following the science” we affected people’s lives permanently. The passage of time, and the “change” of that science, cannot undo what was done to them.
In November of 2020, when I was frantically writing epic blog post after epic blog post refuting the narrative as best I could, I asked the question being tossed at me: Do you believe in science?
In that post, my thesis was that if your question is about belief in science, science is your religion. The question of belief reveals the presence of religion.
The science has not changed.
But November is beckoning, polls are screaming, people are raging, and the previous god is being displaced. Don’t worry. They will still demand some kind of sacrifice.