Tag Archives: New Scientist

Waking up to morality

I have come to the conclusion that a lot of what is said and written about morality is rubbish. So I am pleased to see that, at last, science is opening up to the idea that it can investigate this area of human interest.

Part of that rubbish has been the idea that morality is “off limits to science.” That it is ring-fenced. I think this attitude partly explains the hostility we see expressed towards the scientific study of morality and scientists speaking out on the topic. And this hostility is coming from some scientists, as well as theologians and philosophers.

So I am looking forward to any debate resulting from the recent New Scientist opinion special “Science Wakes up to Morality.” (See October 16 issue No 2782).

This includes short articles by eight scientists, philosophers and journalists. Well worth reading.

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Hidden religious agendas

My recent post Scientific “authority” gave an example of writing which claimed scientific “authority” but was actually religiously motivated – although that was not admitted up-front. I think this is quite common. People will take up a stance, or write articles, in which they are motivated by religious belief – but don’t acknowledge this. Or even attempt to hide it.

A recent short article by Amanda Gefter (How to spot a hidden religious agenda). discusses this problem. She faces it in her job as a book reviews editor at New Scientist: “I often come across so-called science books which after a few pages reveal themselves to be harbouring ulterior motives. I have learned to recognise clues that the author is pushing a religious agenda.” Of course this agenda is often a creationist one. Gefter offers “a few tips for spotting what may be religion in science’s clothing.” Continue reading