Science, Morality, Magic

Morality lies at the heart of the current struggle between science and religion. Scientists become scientists because they believe that truth matters, and that science is the best means to approach an accurate, empirical, rational, logical accounting of the physical world.

Areas which are experimentally inaccessible to science fall under the aegis of the humanities – including philosophy and the creative arts.

On the other hand, religions have made unjustified claims of insider knowledge concerning Truth. In the absence of any incontrovertible evidence to support religious claims, religion has been forced back onto psychologically-coercive demands for faith. By psychologically coercive, I indicate suggestions that those who lack strong faith are somehow lacking or doomed.

The rise of vocal atheism is most evidently a reaction to the egregious nature of fundamentalist politicizing. However, I think, that vocal atheism also results from moral outrage at religionist promotion of bigoted moralistics and of irrationality – unfair harm to the rights of others, supported by harmful attacks on truth.

In Beyond Belief 1, physicist Lawrence Krauss depicts religion’s fear of science partly as resulting from the fact that scientific explanations displace God. He goes on to say that religionists mistakenly interpret the omission of specific reference to God within science as indicating that science is immoral.

Krauss says essentially this:

“Science is not a threat to a moral world. Science has a good ethos, which is based on honesty, open-mindedness, creativity, egalitarianism, and full disclosure. Science also offers the best opportunity to comprehend our moral nature.”
In, The Moral Instinct in today's NYT, evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker explains some of the recent research and thinking concerning the underpinnings of our moral instincts and behaviors. He clarifies that religionists fear that science, in providing explanations, will strip our moral feelings of . . . feeling. Pinker makes a good case for something that many theists seem unable to understand – stripping away supernaturalistic trappings and providing scientific insights does not diminish moral instincts or displace moral social contracts. If anything, science emphasizes that we are moral animals who can mostly be trusted to act in a socially responsible manner.

Science has clarified that a rise in oxytocin levels is associated with the emotion of love. This is fascinating, but it happily does not make a dent in the magic of loving someone.

...section index...

atheism, moral philosophy, moral psychology, psychology, religion, science, society, Steven Pinker

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