Monday, February 6, 2017

The Enormous Stupidity of Giving Invented gods Impunity From Morality

"Science isn't about morals"That was the crux of a tantrum that someone sent me in response to what I said yesterday.   Given the tone of it I should have put it in caps with six or seven exclamation points after it.

And that declaration is supposed to exempt scientists and science from any kind of moral criticism of the kind that is universally used to slam religion when it fails to uniformly convince people to, at the very least, not do evil.  And that means that their failure to do what Duncan Black slammed religion for is A #1, OK.

The idea that there is some thing, "science," that is apart from the people who get credentials to call themselves scientists and who get their research and, in many cases, alleged research published in the journals that comprise the literature that is science is nonsense on its face.  Science exists only through the invention of science by people.

Science is not something apart from people, it is the invention of people, it is something which is defined by people and the scope of which is defined by people.  That definition is a formalistic artifice, it would be quite possible for those who define it to include the consideration of moral consequences flowing from the activities of science, for convenience, out of ideology and, I would contend most of all, for monetary profit, moral considerations are ignored and that refusal to consider them is an intentional act by scientists because, as in all aspects of life, taking moral consequences seriously quite often impinges on the accumulation of wealth for the powerful and their untrammeled enjoyment of it at the cost to other people, to other animals and the environment.  The decision to exempt scientists from the full consideration of the moral consequences of their action is really not different from the exemption granted to do the same thing to businessmen, bankers, industrialists, etc.  And those exemptions are largely given for the same reason.  The exemption is not different from that given to emperors and kings in the previous political-economics of the medieval and classical period, it's just granted to other people manning other establishments.

In the case of science, that exemption from the consequential consideration of the morality of their results is especially stupid as science is often quite potent in its results.  Science is a means of accessing natural power to magnify human intentions, intentions not different, in many of the most morally exigent cases, at all different from the whims and greed of ancient emperors.  And even when the science isn't exactly science and is likely a pile of crap, as so often in the social sciences and in such artificial entities as natural selection, the repute that science is held in can lead to the most horrific of consequences.  Discrimination, oppression and genocidal murder.

So, the artificial exemption granted to scientists and their professional personification of their work "science" from considerations of morality aren't an example of great intelligence and wisdom, given the powers scientists have discovered and tapped, it might be among the stupidest things that people with university degrees have ever done.  You can put it alongside the equally stupid exemption granted to businessmen, bankers and those who apply science and technology in that category,  I don't think those two exemptions from moral consideration of consequences, given at roughly the same time as part of the "enlightenment" are unrelated nor do I believe they are separable from the program of secularism which, though necessary for egalitarian democracy,  was also damaged by the same intellectual movement of materialists.


  1. Didn't we have this discussion in the '50's, after the A-bomb and during the Cold War? Didn't we invent the stereotype of the "mad scientist" who cared only about his research, and not about the consequences, as a commentary on this idea that science is divorced from morality (and so from consequences and responsibility)?

    These things that pass for knowledge I don't understand.

    1. Atheism is stuck in the 19th century. And it wasn't the more intelligent part of the 19th century. And that's the part of atheism that isn't plum stupid, which most of it is.