Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Praying at the altar of science

We overvalue science in our modern world. We truly do. Oh, this isn't to belittle the great engineering feats which science has made possible, nor the advances in medicine which make our lives longer and healthier, nor even things such as television or the Internet which offer the possibility of making our mental lives better, even when they merely entertain. All of that is well and good, so far as they go. The trouble lies in the attitude that science makes us better simply because it's science. We act as though science has value, or gives virtue.

Not necessarily, if at all, can science do that. It may offer the opportunity to be a better, more virtuous people. But it does only that, and we are speaking somewhat anthropormorphically in attributing that much to it really.

Can science define or defend the value of a human life? Can it teach us that stealing is wrong; indeed, can it define theft? Can it say anything about our responsibility towards the environment or, more importantly, one another?

Obviously not. To be sure, it may tell us that if we continue on such and such a road we might drive ourselves into extinction. But that's all it can do. Whether we ought to do such and such else so that we will not become extinct is a question of value. Science only tells us what will happen should we construct a building without the proper strengths, or perhaps even what may happen if we continue on a certain course with no variation. It does not, will not, and cannot tell us what we should do with the information it supplies.

People make those judgments, and they are not argued in the realm of science. They're argued in the realm of philosophy, the realm where we might actually be able, by conscious debate and a reasoned consideration of who we are rather than merely that we are, conclude what are and are not good things to do. Science provides facts; however useful they may be, they are ultimately very rote and, by themselves, without meaning. We provide value and virtue. We are above science.

Science by itself lacks virtue. Those who pray at its altar pray to a valueless void.

1 comment:

ShinChuck said...

I agree with your post, but I'm also starting to come to a new conclusion: "science" was only a front, and there are no true science worshipers. Certain people found that "science" would allow them to try to discredit religion (at least in their minds). Evolution? No God! Heliocentrism? The Catholic Church is flawed, and therefore nothing else it says is right!

But now we have moved beyond that, and the idea of science as the worshiping altar is pushed aside because it no longer benefits the current theology (the theology of "Me" or "I Want" or something along those lines). Science teaches us that a biological man is a biological man, and nothing, even the most serious of drug regimens and barbarous body alterations, actually changes that at its core. *Science* tells us that, but we conveniently ignore it. Science teaches us that babies in the womb can think, hear, feel, react, and have emotions (the same emotions we trump as the end-all in today's world), but again we ignore our centuries-old, stalwart champion.

And so I'm increasing convinced that finding an ultimate truth in science was never really the goal, and it was a mere tool to attain unscientific-but-desired ends. We don't believe in science as the end-all, and now science is merely becoming another battered, broken body in the wake of our desires to flimsily justify the whims of the current modern desires.