Why is Science Such a Pain? The Book of Job and an Overlooked Ancient Narrative for Science Studies - Prof. Tom McLeish
Recent analysis of the public reception of problematic technologies (e.g. Macnaghten, J.-P. de Puy et al. the DEEPEN project) have unearthed the role that ancient narratives play beneath the surface of ostensibly technical debate around risk and acceptability. These narratives tend to support reactionary or conservative voices ("Pandora's Box", "The Sacred" etc.). Yet there are other ancient narratives that propel the human relationship with nature in quite different directions. Perhaps surprisingly, one of these is found within Old Testament Wisdom literature, and supremely within the poetic jewel of the Book of Job. The "Lord's Answer" at the close of the book is one of the outstanding cosmological texts from the ancient Middle East, but has accrued a problematic critical reception. We attempt to look at the text through the unusual lens of the natural history of grappling with order and chaos, situating it within stories both theological and epistemological. What might be the effect of reconnecting today's public debates (nanotechnology, geo-engineering) to such rich sources?