INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

atheism versus agnosticism

For topics that are more about faith, religion and religious organisations than anything else.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
grammar king
Posts: 869
Joined: March 14th, 2008, 2:42 am

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#21 Post by grammar king » August 6th, 2010, 1:40 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Paolo wrote:
Alan C. wrote:To my mind Atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist (without theism) Whereas Agnosticism means without knowledge (you don't know).
This is a point I often make in discussion. It is possible to be an atheistic agnostic or a theistic agnostic (or to waver between the two). However, as soon as someone claims to be gnostic (atheist or theist) they are making unsupportable claims of knowledge.

I suggest that agnosticism in its modern usage has become associated with those who waver in what they believe - otherwise they simply tag themselves as atheist or theist.
I'm not sure I'd agree with your first paragraph. It depends on what you mean by 'know'. I can say that I know Thatcher used to be the Prime Minister, but I don't claim absolute knowledge of that. In the same way, if I had regular contact with God, I could say that I know God exists, without claiming absolute knowledge. In that sense one could be a gnostic theist. You could not, by the same standard, be a gnostic atheist.

Dan
Posts: 298
Joined: November 26th, 2007, 5:05 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#22 Post by Dan » August 6th, 2010, 1:54 pm

What is "absolute knowledge", and how exactly does it differ from knowledge?

Dan

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#23 Post by Nick » August 7th, 2010, 1:34 am

A quick aside: I thought, before replying, that I'd investigate NOMA to verify its source and confirm it's original definition. Instead, google gave me the New Orleans Museum of Art, a gangenous disease of the face, or a restaurant in Denmark. :laughter:

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#24 Post by Nick » August 7th, 2010, 1:57 am

OK, It was Stephen Jay Gould, and here's the rather indigestible definition quoted by Wiki:
Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) is the view advocated by Stephen Jay Gould that "science and religion do not glower at each other...[but] interdigitate in patterns of complex fingering, and at every fractal scale of self-similarity."[1] He suggests, with examples, that "NOMA enjoys strong and fully explicit support, even from the primary cultural stereotypes of hard-line traditionalism" and that it is "a sound position of general consensus, established by long struggle among people of goodwill in both magisteria."[1]
Back to Dan's post: I'll leave GK to address your first point, leaving me to address your second.
Dan wrote: Secondly, you have put the point prejudicially here. You frame NOMA, or "willing to give religion its own sphere", as "generosity of spirit". I challenge that. NOMA is not a paragon of tolerance, it's merely one of many models of the relationship between science and religion. There are others. In any case, I'm not sure you've grasped a key point about NOMA, which is precisely what it is that it claims is religion's "sphere". Religious writers, like Alister McGrath, have rejected NOMA because it restricts the scope of religion to merely "ethical" concerns - way too restrictive. So in other words someone like McGrath would not see NOMA as "generous of spirit" at all. It is not legitimate, to many religionists and many nonreligionists to either confine religion to ethics, on the one hand, or to allow religion to monopolise ethics, on the other.
Having heard Alister McGrath at length on You Tube, I don't give a stuff what he says. His only justification is "It seems to me...", which is no justification at all. The point about NOMA is surely that the religionists claim that their god is outside science, therefore a scientific refutation of their god cannot hold true as their god is outside science. Eg, outside space and time, the laws of physics etc, etc. This is nothing more than bending the rules to suit their pre-determined solution: that not only can a god exist but that he does, and what's more he just happens to be the one I believe in. (Utter nonsense, of course.) There is no such thing as NOMA. If there were, then science would expand to include it, and thus overlap, differentiating between the different results (eg miracles) by including the newly discovered power of prayer, or saints or....oh FFS, they can't be serious, can they? And if they think that morals are somehow outside science, then they don't understand either science or morals.
NOMA is, to my mind, unworkable for either side.
Quite so.

Lord Muck oGentry
Posts: 631
Joined: September 1st, 2007, 3:48 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#25 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » August 8th, 2010, 1:51 am

animist wrote:I would like to get some opinions from both atheists and agnostics about why they think their own position differs from the other. I think there is no real difference - at least if atheists are realistic. Realistic because noone can disprove the existence of God any more than they can disprove the existence of fairies at the bottom of their garden (certainly not of my garden anyway, which probably does contain fairies). So, atheists need to be humble and accept that the only certainty about big G is uncertainty - hey, is that not agnosticism?
You may want to have a look at this:
http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/flew01.htm

Flew makes the point here that we can define atheism as lack of belief in God, not as belief in God's nonexistence. There is also the point that open-ended existential assertions bear the burden of proof — what is asserted without evidence may be rejected without evidence.

Atheism of that sort can be distinguished from agnosticism, a view about our knowledge of the existence or nonxistence of God: either the weaker form, according to which we do not, as things stand, know the answer, or the stronger form, according to which we cannot know.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#26 Post by animist » August 8th, 2010, 8:50 am

Dan wrote:
Realistic because noone can disprove the existence of God any more than they can disprove the existence of fairies at the bottom of their garden (certainly not of my garden anyway, which probably does contain fairies).
This is often stated, but seldom defended. Dawkins says the same kind of thing, sadly.

Two points.

First of all, atheism is not at all necessarily the position that the existence of God can be disproved.

Secondly, by what principle is it held that the existence of fairies at the bottom of a garden cannot be disproved? I think their presence or absence can be proved, at least in principle. And although I agree that at this point no knock-down disproof of the existence of a supernatural creator-being is available (though there are considerations that count against the idea), I'm not persuaded that there is a good reason to conclude that such proof or disproof is impossible. Some specific notions of deity are, I would argue, disprovable, either on conceptual or empirical grounds.

Dan
Your first point: that is what I was saying in my original post - atheism does not, or should not, claim to disprove God's existence.

Your second point: there is not exactly a "principle" behind my claim that it is impossible to disprove existential statements. In fact some can be disproved as you say: "There is a dinosaur on the back of my right hand" (if taken literally) can be disproved by inspection. But anything involving broad domains, eg fairies or a garden, is hard to disprove. Once we are on to things like aliens around us, God everywhere etc, existence is impossible to disprove. The other point is that there is as asymmetry about proving and disproving existential statements: I would believe in God's existence if angels started appearing to me and my acquaintances on a regular basis.

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#27 Post by animist » August 8th, 2010, 5:46 pm

Nick wrote:I agree wholeheartedly with TTD's beautifully succinct summary of the atheist/agnostic question.
animist wrote:So, atheists need to be humble and accept that the only certainty about big G is uncertainty - hey, is that not agnosticism?
It seems to me that you are interpreting the ultimate uncertainty as a 50/50 position. It is not. Though I acknowledge the possibility of there being a god, the probability of his existence is vanishingly small. That acknowledgement is all the humbleness I need in this context. Contrast this with the certainty of the believer, and his blindness to the lack of logic in his position. As Christpher Hitchens has put it, an atheist can tell you what would be required to justify a belief in God, whereas a christian can not tell you what would be required for him to reject belief in god.
I am not sure why you think that "uncertainty" means a 50/50 balance; I certainly do not think there is an equal chance of God's existence. In fact I would not use the word "probability" because it sounds too scientific; but if forced to assign a probability of the "God" as conventionally designated as the omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent creator, I would say zero, no chance. This is because I think Epicurus's dilemma, that God cannot be all these three, is unanswerable; to me such a God is virtually a self-contradiction. This does not contradict me saying that atheists should not try to disprove God: if there is some sort of God, he/she/it could have any number of characteristics. Whatever gods there are, it is, to repeat, for the believer to prove, not for the non-believer to disprove; the same goes for aliens, ghosts, fairies etc. The point made by Hitchens (which you quote) is absolutely crucial: as I said in my previous post, if lots of angels started to appear to me and of course to others, this would count as evidence of at least something godlike.

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#28 Post by Nick » August 9th, 2010, 2:16 pm

animist wrote:I am not sure why you think that "uncertainty" means a 50/50 balance; I certainly do not think there is an equal chance of God's existence.
I'm glad to hear it. I suppose I made that assumption because if didn't have sufficient info to think otherwise, so I am pleased to be corrected. I was to a certain extent influenced by Dawkins, who berates people for taking any uncertainty to mean 50/50. I was also influenced by your assertion that atheists should be more humble in the face of such uncertainty. I'm still not sure quite what you are driving at, given the next part of your post:
In fact I would not use the word "probability" because it sounds too scientific; but if forced to assign a probability of the "God" as conventionally designated as the omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent creator, I would say zero, no chance. This is because I think Epicurus's dilemma, that God cannot be all these three, is unanswerable; to me such a God is virtually a self-contradiction.
I'd agree with this.
This does not contradict me saying that atheists should not try to disprove God:
Hmmm... Isn't that what Epicurus was doing? Doesn't such an attempt at least explore the issues and uncover falsehoods and present further questions for consideration?
if there is some sort of God, he/she/it could have any number of characteristics. Whatever gods there are, it is, to repeat, for the believer to prove, not for the non-believer to disprove; the same goes for aliens, ghosts, fairies etc.
Yes, it's always a good start to ask people what they mean by 'God'. It's quite a challenge in itself.

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#29 Post by animist » August 9th, 2010, 5:27 pm

Nick wrote:
animist wrote:I am not sure why you think that "uncertainty" means a 50/50 balance; I certainly do not think there is an equal chance of God's existence.
I'm glad to hear it. I suppose I made that assumption because if didn't have sufficient info to think otherwise, so I am pleased to be corrected. I was to a certain extent influenced by Dawkins, who berates people for taking any uncertainty to mean 50/50. I was also influenced by your assertion that atheists should be more humble in the face of such uncertainty. I'm still not sure quite what you are driving at, given the next part of your post:
In fact I would not use the word "probability" because it sounds too scientific; but if forced to assign a probability of the "God" as conventionally designated as the omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent creator, I would say zero, no chance. This is because I think Epicurus's dilemma, that God cannot be all these three, is unanswerable; to me such a God is virtually a self-contradiction.
I'd agree with this.
This does not contradict me saying that atheists should not try to disprove God:
Hmmm... Isn't that what Epicurus was doing? Doesn't such an attempt at least explore the issues and uncover falsehoods and present further questions for consideration?
if there is some sort of God, he/she/it could have any number of characteristics. Whatever gods there are, it is, to repeat, for the believer to prove, not for the non-believer to disprove; the same goes for aliens, ghosts, fairies etc.
Yes, it's always a good start to ask people what they mean by 'God'. It's quite a challenge in itself.
What I am driving it is that there are all sorts of possible "gods"; they do not have to be the traditional Xian supremo who is simultaneously all-good/knowing/powerful. This Supremo-style God is, IMO, a self-contradiction and so inconceivable. But that does not mean that there could not be other "Gods": for example a creator-only specialist (the Deist god in which the US Founding Fathers believed); or a devil-god; or there could be a whole pantheon of pagan gods, etc etc. However unlikely these all are, they don't necessarily contradict themselves as concepts, and so I do not think that the atheist should try to disprove them - s/he does not need to. This is because, whereas the believer can in principle prove whatever it is s/he believes in - and therefore ought to actually do so in order to be taken seriously - the nonbeliever is in the opposite situation: of, in principle, not being able to prove a negative. It is a basic ethical principle that "ought" implies "can"; so, if we atheists cannot in principle disprove gods other than the "Supremo God" (I now seem to be using this term to distinguish this particular god-type from all the others) we cannot be expected by the theist opposition to do so. As far as devil-gods go, have you read humanist philosopher Peter Cave's funny essay about "Devil" in his book "Are Robots Human?" This book is definitely worth putting on your Xmas list, or if you have it already, put it on someone else's.

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#30 Post by Nick » August 9th, 2010, 5:46 pm

Thanks Animist, I shall ponder further. There's certainly a god that hides car-keys.... Is that what you had in mind? :D

I actually do have a copy of Peter Cave's book. I must dig it out and read the essay you've recommended. That's if the god of missing books isn't reading it himself... :D

philbo
Posts: 591
Joined: December 18th, 2009, 3:09 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#31 Post by philbo » August 9th, 2010, 6:12 pm

Nick wrote:Thanks Animist, I shall ponder further. There's certainly a god that hides car-keys.... Is that what you had in mind? :D
In an attempt to stimulate some profound theological discussion... what did the god that hides car keys (pbuh) do before we had cars? I suppose you could argue that He lives outside of time, and therefore when there were (or will be) no car keys to hide, he would never be in a position to manifest His (not-exactly-omni-)potence.

User avatar
Alan C.
Posts: 10356
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 3:35 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#32 Post by Alan C. » August 9th, 2010, 7:39 pm

animist
This Supremo-style God is, IMO, a self-contradiction and so inconceivable. But that does not mean that there could not be other "Gods":
My emphasis.
Yes it does! If there are gods of any description, who created them? (we did is the obvious answer)
Most of the 3,000+ gods (invented by primitives) nobody believes in any more, some folk just seem to have a problem letting go of that last one.

If there was a God and it made the Earth and everything on it, I'd like a word in it's lug! Re cancer cells, malaria, aids, appendix in humans, wisdom teeth, and little toes (prone to corns)
Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and droughts, just for starters.

If there was a God it would be a pretty shite God and I certainly wouldn't want to worship it. :smile:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

User avatar
Paolo
Posts: 1474
Joined: September 13th, 2008, 9:15 am

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#33 Post by Paolo » August 10th, 2010, 8:25 am

grammar king wrote:
Paolo wrote:
Alan C. wrote:To my mind Atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist (without theism) Whereas Agnosticism means without knowledge (you don't know).
This is a point I often make in discussion. It is possible to be an atheistic agnostic or a theistic agnostic (or to waver between the two). However, as soon as someone claims to be gnostic (atheist or theist) they are making unsupportable claims of knowledge.

I suggest that agnosticism in its modern usage has become associated with those who waver in what they believe - otherwise they simply tag themselves as atheist or theist.
I'm not sure I'd agree with your first paragraph. It depends on what you mean by 'know'. I can say that I know Thatcher used to be the Prime Minister, but I don't claim absolute knowledge of that. In the same way, if I had regular contact with God, I could say that I know God exists, without claiming absolute knowledge. In that sense one could be a gnostic theist. You could not, by the same standard, be a gnostic atheist.
If people were entirely logically consistent or exacting in their requirements of proof then that would be the case, but there are people who view the lack of evidence for God and the vanishing probability that God exists as sufficient proof that they can claim knowledge that such an entity does not exist. I know several people who fall into this category.

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#34 Post by animist » August 10th, 2010, 9:05 am

Alan C. wrote:
animist
This Supremo-style God is, IMO, a self-contradiction and so inconceivable. But that does not mean that there could not be other "Gods":
My emphasis.
Yes it does! If there are gods of any description, who created them? (we did is the obvious answer)
Most of the 3,000+ gods (invented by primitives) nobody believes in any more, some folk just seem to have a problem letting go of that last one.

If there was a God and it made the Earth and everything on it, I'd like a word in it's lug! Re cancer cells, malaria, aids, appendix in humans, wisdom teeth, and little toes (prone to corns)
Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and droughts, just for starters.

If there was a God it would be a pretty shite God and I certainly wouldn't want to worship it. :smile:
Couldn't agree more, it is just that such a god would be inscrutable rather than self-contradicting. And if this so-called god just designed it all at the start, surely a really intelligent designer would have made humans and plants, but no animals, so that humans would have been content, and completely healthy, as vegetarians. The meaningless animal suffering which has gone on down the aeons would thereby have been avoided; humans and their free wills could have still agonised about sin (since, oddly enough, abuse of animals seldom seems to be regarded as much of a sin in theistic religions); and the universe would be so much tidier and therefore more plausibly the result of an intelligent designer. God could have been glorified far more than he is in the actual universe, instead of being denied as he often is ( by us, obviously); and if he does in fact exist, he is a very, very messy designer.

Dan
Posts: 298
Joined: November 26th, 2007, 5:05 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#35 Post by Dan » August 10th, 2010, 2:02 pm

Nick wrote:And if they think that morals are somehow outside science, then they don't understand either science or morals.
I'm not so sure you've got to the nub of this NOMA business.

Gould can only make NOMA stand up by restricting religion to ethics. He never quite admits to this, but it's quite clear if you read him carefully. In other words, he does actually implicitly rule out all the stuff you were talking about. Because that's where religion is talking about what exists, however ineffably. And that's why the idea that NOMA is friendly to religion is mistaken. It's surely a fatal trap for any religion worthy of the name!

What about morals and science? Clearly science can study morals, and clearly scientists can develop moral codes governing their work, so to that extent morality is not "outside science". But would you say that science discovers morals?

Dan

Dan
Posts: 298
Joined: November 26th, 2007, 5:05 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#36 Post by Dan » August 10th, 2010, 2:08 pm

animist wrote: Your first point: that is what I was saying in my original post - atheism does not, or should not, claim to disprove God's existence.
No, atheists can claim to disprove the existence of any creative deity if they like. But you can be an atheist if you think belief in the existence of god is unjustifiable, regardless of why you think it is unjustifiable.
Your second point: there is not exactly a "principle" behind my claim that it is impossible to disprove existential statements. In fact some can be disproved as you say: "There is a dinosaur on the back of my right hand" (if taken literally) can be disproved by inspection. But anything involving broad domains, eg fairies or a garden, is hard to disprove.
Hard, yes. It's hard to prove their are no ants in my house. Hard, perhaps impractical, but not logically impossible, which is the important point.
Once we are on to things like aliens around us, God everywhere etc, existence is impossible to disprove.
Not logically impossible. Just very difficult in practice. There is no logical prohibition against proving a negative, only practical ones.

Dan

Dan
Posts: 298
Joined: November 26th, 2007, 5:05 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#37 Post by Dan » August 10th, 2010, 2:16 pm

Alan C. wrote:
animist
This Supremo-style God is, IMO, a self-contradiction and so inconceivable. But that does not mean that there could not be other "Gods":
My emphasis.
Yes it does! If there are gods of any description, who created them? (we did is the obvious answer)
Most of the 3,000+ gods (invented by primitives) nobody believes in any more, some folk just seem to have a problem letting go of that last one.

If there was a God and it made the Earth and everything on it, I'd like a word in it's lug! Re cancer cells, malaria, aids, appendix in humans, wisdom teeth, and little toes (prone to corns)
Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and droughts, just for starters.

If there was a God it would be a pretty shite God and I certainly wouldn't want to worship it. :smile:
None of these points are incompatible with the existence of some sort of creative deity. "Who created the creator?" is a very good question, but doesn't prove there was no creator. That people no longer believe in certain gods doesn't prove there was no creator, and the existence of evil doesn't prove there was no creator. Certainly your disinclination to worship a creator doesn't prove there was no creator.

What animist is kind of getting at reminds me of what 19th century atheists like Charles Bradlaugh used to say, which was that they did not "deny God"; they rejected clearly defined deities, but had nothing to say about the notion of a God in the abstract - "Define what you mean by God", said Bradlaugh (I paraphrase), "and I'll happily refute it", but he could not comment on the idea of a creative deity in general, remaining undefined and uncharacterised.

It's a longstanding atheist tradition.

Dan

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#38 Post by Nick » August 10th, 2010, 2:50 pm

Dan wrote:I'm not so sure you've got to the nub of this NOMA business.
That is quite possible. To comment further, I'd need to study the subject in more detail, and tbh, it seems to me to be about as useful as theology. Maybe I'm just tired, maybe it seserves more attention, but it will have to wait.
What about morals and science? Clearly science can study morals, and clearly scientists can develop moral codes governing their work, so to that extent morality is not "outside science". But would you say that science discovers morals?
Er... not sure what you mean by that. But I do believe that a huge amount of morality comes from our human condition, and can therefore be studied through evolutionary biology, which is a science. I think most of our morality can be explained scientifically, even though some of it has changed quite markedly, even in the space of my lifetime.

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#39 Post by animist » August 10th, 2010, 7:10 pm

Dan wrote:
animist wrote: Your first point: that is what I was saying in my original post - atheism does not, or should not, claim to disprove God's existence.
No, atheists can claim to disprove the existence of any creative deity if they like. But you can be an atheist if you think belief in the existence of god is unjustifiable, regardless of why you think it is unjustifiable.
Your second point: there is not exactly a "principle" behind my claim that it is impossible to disprove existential statements. In fact some can be disproved as you say: "There is a dinosaur on the back of my right hand" (if taken literally) can be disproved by inspection. But anything involving broad domains, eg fairies or a garden, is hard to disprove.
Hard, yes. It's hard to prove their are no ants in my house. Hard, perhaps impractical, but not logically impossible, which is the important point.
Once we are on to things like aliens around us, God everywhere etc, existence is impossible to disprove.
Not logically impossible. Just very difficult in practice. There is no logical prohibition against proving a negative, only practical ones.

Dan
Agree in principle. But then God has the unfortunate characteristic of being everywhere and nowhere, so is impossible to disprove in practice, not just difficult. I suppose, really, we are neglecting the relevant difference between supernatural beings like God and angels, which are sort of mystically floating around rather than IN a physical space, and say, aliens amongst us, or the planet Nibiru, which (and I have an atheist friend who believes this) is due to meet the Earth in 2012 - so where is it?

Dan
Posts: 298
Joined: November 26th, 2007, 5:05 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#40 Post by Dan » August 12th, 2010, 3:18 pm

animist wrote: Agree in principle. But then God has the unfortunate characteristic of being everywhere and nowhere, so is impossible to disprove in practice, not just difficult.
You don't think that there are fundamental conceptual - logical - problems with the notion of "being everywhere and nowhere" that ought to be clarified first? We don't need to spend long on something that seems like nonsense.
I suppose, really, we are neglecting the relevant difference between supernatural beings like God and angels, which are sort of mystically floating around rather than IN a physical space, and say, aliens amongst us, or the planet Nibiru, which (and I have an atheist friend who believes this) is due to meet the Earth in 2012 - so where is it?
Someone has to articulate clearly what that difference consists in, though, and this has rather blatently failed to be done. You describe it as "mystically floating around rather than IN a physical space", but it's not clear that any sense can be made of this.

Dan

Dan
Posts: 298
Joined: November 26th, 2007, 5:05 pm

Re: atheism versus agnosticism

#41 Post by Dan » August 12th, 2010, 3:20 pm

Nick wrote:
Dan wrote:I'm not so sure you've got to the nub of this NOMA business.
That is quite possible. To comment further, I'd need to study the subject in more detail, and tbh, it seems to me to be about as useful as theology. Maybe I'm just tired, maybe it seserves more attention, but it will have to wait.
What about morals and science? Clearly science can study morals, and clearly scientists can develop moral codes governing their work, so to that extent morality is not "outside science". But would you say that science discovers morals?
Er... not sure what you mean by that. But I do believe that a huge amount of morality comes from our human condition, and can therefore be studied through evolutionary biology, which is a science. I think most of our morality can be explained scientifically, even though some of it has changed quite markedly, even in the space of my lifetime.
I mean that science doesn't offer us a way of discovering how we ought to behave. It can, as I said, study the origins and development of moral behaviour, and that may be of ethical relevance. And it can tell us what the likely outcomes of particular courses of action are likely to be. But we have to decide for ourselves how we want to live, what our values are.

Dan

Post Reply