The Gospel of Eve
Francis Bacon, Genesis, and the Telos of Modern Science
Keywords:science, religion, technology, feminism, nature
At the dawn of the scientific revolution, Francis Bacon declared its goal: to recover the estate of Adam and restore man's prelapsarian dominion over nature. Bacon's analogy makes little sense as a rationale for scientific inquiry, however, since Adam's distinguishing virtue in the opening verses of Genesis was his incurious obedience. The animating spirit of science has always been the impudent curiosity of Eve, who conversed with the serpent and dared, in defiance of the threat of death, to taste the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. As we apply the fruits of scientific inquiry to the creation of new technologies, this contrast between the mythical mother and father of our species takes on a fatal significance. If we aim to recover the estate of Adam we put science in the service of complacent comfort and an incurious domination of nature that will end in catastrophe. When we embrace the gospel of Eve, we engage in a conversation with nature that is inspired by that transcendent curiosity which Einstein identified as "the cosmic religious sense." Informed by this ethos, the fundamental goal of science is not to reclaim an impossible mastery over nature nor to banish death, but to deepen our engagement with life itself.
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