Wednesday, December 16, 2009

science and "conforming our souls to reality"

Science and the Demands of Virtue

Very well worth reading the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:

Contrary to the popular understanding, the natural sciences are not morally neutral. Not only do the findings of science have moral implications, the actual work of scientific research presupposes that the researcher himself is a man of virtue. When scientific research is divorced from, or worse opposed to, the life of virtue it is not simply the research or the researcher that suffers but the whole human family.

Take for example, the scandal surrounding the conduct of researchers at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University in the UK. Whether or not the recently revealed emails and computer programs from undermine the theory of anthropological global warning (AGW), it is clear that current public policy debate is based at least in part on the research of scientists of questionable virtue who sacrificed not only honesty and fair play but potential the well being of us all in the service of their own political agenda.

...C.S. Lewis reminds us of the danger here when he observes that, “Each new power won by man is a power over man as well.” While our scientific advances have made us stronger in some ways, they have made us weaker in others. While not without copious benefits, science represents a real and substantial risk for both our relationship to creation and to ourselves. Giving in, Lewis points out, means that we no longer seek to “conform the soul to reality” through “knowledge, self-discipline and virtue.” As with magic in an earlier age, modern science tempts us to “subdue reality to the wishes of men.”

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