Friday, September 02, 2011

Science Is Unable to Determine Right and Wrong

In Science and Religion: A New Introduction, Alister McGrath argues that science is unable to determine what is right and wrong. He writes: "Most scientists would affi rm that their discipline is fundamentally amoral – that is, that the scientifi c method does not extend to moral questions. For example, Richard Dawkins succinctly confi rmed that “ science has no methods for deciding what is ethical." (McGrath, 3)

McGrath quotes evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould in support of this:

"Our failure to discern a universal good does not record any lack of insight or ingenu-ity, but merely demonstrates that nature contains no moral messages framed in human terms. Morality is a subject for philosophers, theologians, students of the humanities, indeed for all thinking people. The answers will not be read passively from nature; they do not, and cannot, arise from the data of science. The factual state of the world does not teach us how we, with our powers for good and evil, should alter or preserve it in the most ethical manner." (Ib.)

OK. Science qua science cannot derive "ought" from "is." From where, then, shall we learn about ethics? The answer, as always: from religion and philosophy.