Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Canonical science

Here's something for preachers and all Christians to keep in mind: the increasing tendency to science to be used as the foundation of moral authority:
Today, religion and political ideologies no longer inspire significant sections of the public. Politicians find it difficult to justify their work and outlook in the vocabulary of morality. In the Anglo-American world, officials now promote policies on the grounds that they are ‘evidence based’ rather than because they are ‘right’ or ‘good’. In policymaking circles, the language of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ has been displaced by the phrase: ‘The research shows…’

Moral judgments are often edged out even from the most sensitive areas of life. For example, experts use the language of medicine rather than morality to tell young teenagers that having sex is not so much ‘bad’ as bad for their emotional health. So pervasive is the crisis of belief and morality that even religious institutions are affected by it. Fundamentalists no longer simply rely on Biblical texts to affirm their belief in the Creation; today, the invention of ‘creation science’ by Christian fundamentalists in the US is symptomatic of the trend to supplement traditional belief with scientific authority.
Author Frank Furedi, goes on:
The slippage between a scientific fact and moral exhortation is accomplished with remarkable ease in a world where people lack the confidence to speak in the language of right and wrong. But turning science into an arbiter of policy and behaviour only serves to confuse matters. Science can provide facts about the way the world works, but it cannot say very much about what it all means and what we should do about it. Yes, the search for truth requires scientific experimentation and the discovery of new facts; but it also demands answers about the meaning of those facts, and those answers can only be clarified through moral, philosophical investigation and debate.
Or, we might say, by the Word of God (HT: Arts & Letters Daily).


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