Science is so Important…Except in the all the Things we Truly Care About

A good essay here on the limitations of science.

Who loses? We all do, of course, but perhaps it is science itself that takes the worst damage. Ironically, the more we look to science to do jobs it was never meant to do—bear the full weight of our moral systems, demonstrate the existence of a “designer,” define personhood—the more we fall under its sway, the less we understand what it can and cannot do, and the less willing we are to let our (non-scientific) moral and religious traditions speak.

I am not one to insist that morality requires religious belief, but I have a hard time seeing how any morally serious worldview can persist without some kind of appeal to ultimate things. And so long as science remains the sole arbiter of ultimate things, our public moral lives will remain impoverished.

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2 Responses to Science is so Important…Except in the all the Things we Truly Care About

  1. Burk Braun says:

    Hi, Darrell!

    Great to hear from you again.. now if religion could keep from asserting bad science, we would have something of a truce going! But then it would cease to exist- the same old story.

    … And to do a personhood blood test, it would be good to have some blood!

    I absolutely agree with the distinction the writer asserts- that what is doesn't tell us what ought to be. That is the old subjective/objective divide. What this all has to do with religion escapes me. Morals can be constructed perfectly well without reverting to hoary mythologies and junk science- by using humbler narratives of human experience, potential, and well-being, and especially by attending to simple humanism.

    “… but I have a hard time seeing how any morally serious worldview can persist without some kind of appeal to ultimate things. And so long as science remains the sole arbiter of ultimate things, our public moral lives will remain impoverished.”

    This is simply wrong.. it confuses various ultimate things. If you regard the edge of the universe as the “ultimate” thing, then science is the only criterion- case closed.

    But if you regard the value of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker as an “ultimate” thing, then the category has nothing to do with science, but with our motivating and existential properties as humans.. our subjective existence. Ditto for morals, which share the same wellspring.

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  2. Darrell says:

    Hello,

    “This is simply wrong.. it confuses various ultimate things. If you regard the edge of the universe as the “ultimate” thing, then science is the only criterion- case closed.”

    But no one regards the edge of the universe as an ultimate thing in the sense the writer is speaking.

    “But if you regard the value of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker as an “ultimate” thing, then the category has nothing to do with science…”

    True. And it also means science has nothing to say about whether it (the idea of beauty as expressed in music) is truly an ultimate thing. It works both ways.

    “…but with our motivating and existential properties as humans.. our subjective existence. Ditto for morals, which share the same wellspring.”

    You beg the question.

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