Tag Archives: Secularism

Science, values and ethics

There is an unfortunate common perception that scientists are cold, hard people. That they are only interested in objective facts and are emotionless. And especially that science as a process is not creative and does not encourage the development of an ethical outlook. Consequently there is an attitude that while we can learn about the nature of reality from science and scientists we can learn nothing about ethics or the appreciation of reality.

Some people even claim that for this we must turn to religion. Although they never seem to be able to explain how on earth religious leaders can offer any better knowledge of ethics than scientists, boot makers, mechanics. or cooks.

I think most scientists would object to this common perception. So I was pleased to see this recent article from Agnosticism / AtheismValues of Godless Science: Modern Science Does Not Need Religion or Gods for Values. It’s worth a read so I reproduce it below:

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Human Morality V: The secular conscience

This is the last in a series of five posts on morality. They are aimed at countering the usual religious claims for a god-given morality with current scientific understanding of how the morality of our species arose. Also, they at tempt to justify a non-theist objective basis for much of the moral decisions we make. The first post (I: Religious confusion) discussed some of the problems religion has in its understanding of morality and the second (II: Objective morality) argues for a non-theist objective basis for morality. The third post (III: Moral intuition) discussed moral intuitions and the fourth (IV: Role of religion) the role of religion. This last post discusses the secular conscience.

moral dummiesI have been arguing for a non-theist understanding of human morality. We can accept moral codes, and an objective basis for moral truths, without resorting to a god hypothesis. Historically religion has served a purpose in codifying and teaching moral law – but it is not the origin of these laws. In a sense, religion is parasitic on secular morality. It claims an authority in the area that it doesn’t deserve. And religious apologists often complete this takeover by claiming that religion itself, or the supernatural beings they promote, are the source of human morality.

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