On Science & Religion

It is commonly claimed that science can provide us with morality.  That the only morals which we need for our collective flourishing can be solidly justified by science and science alone.  ‘Science,’ here, is often invoked loosely, without much explanation of what sort of specific scientific evidence or method or philosophy or ideology provides adequate ‘scientific’ support for some form of morality—for how we should live.

What’s often missed here is that science is concerned with what is, whereas morality is concerned with what should be.  I have found no better brief explanation of this essential, yet often overlooked, difference than in Albert Einstein’s following comments (italics original):

“For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source.”

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