Editor’s Note: The following is a reproduction of Prof. Smith’s preface to Sa’id Tehrani-Nasab’s translation of Ancient Wisdom and Modern Misconceptions: A Critique of Contemporary Scientism into Persian.
It gives me great pleasure to preface this Persian edition of Ancient Wisdom and Modern Misconceptions, all the more inasmuch as Persia ranks high among the cultures of the world in which that Ancient Wisdom has flourished splendidly. And whereas today, in vast regions of the globe, that hallowed heritage has all but vanished under the onslaught of Modern Misconceptions, it seems to me that Persia still venerates the memory of its illustrious sages, and refuses to succumb to the siren song of modernity.
What renders that ever more imperious refrain seductive in the extreme is not only that it promises all the comforts and pleasures the world can give, but that it claims to speak on the basis of science: that purveyor of modern-day miracles which has become, for vast segments of humanity, the supreme authority on just about everything. Forced from virtually every official quarter upon the public at large, the yoke of “scientistic” atheism has imposed its sway upon most regions of the contemporary world.
The message of my book can now be stated in just three words: be not deceived! You may rest assured that the Ancient Wisdom stands to this day as rock-solid as it did a thousand years ago. Not only, however, has this veritable Wisdom not been invalidated by the discoveries of contemporary science, but on the contrary: that very Wisdom is vitally needed to interpret these scientific findings aright. The fact is that science is incapable of interpreting itself, which is to say that, in the hallowed name of “science,” a plethora of false and highly injurious ideas have gained currency. One needs to understand, first of all, that whereas there are — obviously — bona fide sciences, beginning with physics, our universities are brimming with pseudo-sciences, which in the name of “science,” spread erroneous doctrines that cause irreparable harm: many schools of “psychology,” for example, fall into this category. The prime example, however, of a pseudo-scientific myth that has cast its ominous spell over just about every region of the world is doubtless none other than the Darwinist theory of evolution, which from the outset has been nothing more than atheist ideology masquerading in scientific garb. And this explains — in light of facts to be found in our chapter on “Intelligent Design” — why the theory is still taught worldwide in schools and universities decades after its invalidity has been established on rigorous mathematical grounds.
The major portion of the book, however, has to do with the claims of physical science, which one takes to be “beyond all reasonable doubt.” It is easy, of course, to be persuaded of that claim: this is the science, after all, which has determined the charge of an electron and the mass of a proton to so many decimal places, and gives rise to the technological marvels that surround us on all sides. No wonder that, when the physicist speaks, the world listens! One knows, moreover, what he thinks of Ancient Wisdom: “pre-scientific superstition” appears to be the official term. And who is there to challenge these authorities: to contradict an Albert Einstein, let us say!
What I have written, chapter by chapter, is what I came, over a period of many years, to discern. It is true that I approached the issues at hand on the ground of the ancient and yet timeless wisdom transmitted in the sapiential traditions of mankind; but the point is: one must, if one would break the spell! It is finally an enslavement to the Zeitgeist that renders the present-day physics community at large incapable of recognizing where they stand, and towards what destination they are heading. For that, one needs the Ancient Wisdom whereof we speak — that “pre-scientific superstition” no less — even as one has need of a torch in the darkness of night.
Let this much suffice by way of introduction. And to you, my brothers and sisters of Persia, I would add: may this book unite us in glorifying God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, who is the First Cause and Last End of all that exists…
Here the Preface ends. But I am wondering whether the recovery of an Ancient Wisdom will not lead, inevitably, to the discovery of New Friends.