February 21, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Science Requires Godly Values

Much as they try to evolutionize religion, scientists recognize that Biblical values are essential for science.

Worldview

PhysOrg presents a case that atheism is as natural to humans as religion. “People in the ancient world did not always believe in the gods, a new study suggests – casting doubt on the idea that religious belief is a ‘default setting’ for humans.” The “study” is by Tim Whitmarsh of Cambridge. So what is new? Rampant unbelief is exactly what the Bible presents about fallen mankind. Whitmarsh mistakenly lumps the Judeo-Christian monotheistic Creator god with the capricious, glorified supermen and superwomen of the Roman and Greek pantheons. It’s no wonder that many thinkers had qualms about believing the myths about them and their bizarre antics. Those gods, however, evolved from the void; they did not create it ex nihilo. Christianity was so different to the Romans that they accused Christians of atheism. This shows that atheism can be defined as doubts about a culture’s gods, or doubts about a real Creator. Whitmarsh confuses the two definitions. Whether atheists are “moral” or not is also beside the point. Sure, many are. The question should be whether they have philosophical grounds for morality if matter is all there is. Without morality, though, it is impossible to have science (see 2/08/16).

Values

Another PhysOrg piece investigates what values and virtues scientists have in common. Two that stand out from a survey undertaken by Michigan State are honesty and curiosity. Of the contenders (attentiveness, collaborative, courage, curiosity, honesty, humility to evidence, meticulousness, objectivity, perseverance and skepticism with regard to their importance for scientific research), those two were considered the most essential. Most surveyed agreed that inculcating those virtues in the next generation of scientists is as important as teaching content. The researchers feel they uncovered a “tacit moral code” that, unfortunately, is being eroded as shown by recent scandals.

Science is a truth-seeking enterprise. Based on this study, researchers violating this unwritten code of conduct may not be scientists in the truest sense, [Robert] Pennock said.

“Researchers who commit such misconduct are not merely violating some regulatory requirements, but they also are violating – in a deep way – what it means to be a scientist,” he said.

The Roman and Greek gods did not reward mortals for their curiosity or honesty. More likely than not, those traits were punishable by death. The priests of polytheistic societies seem more interested in getting paid in sacrificial gifts. The Creator God of the Hebrews, by contrast, exalted truth, and commanded honesty, faithfulness, and loving one’s neighbor. As for curiosity, Psalm 111:2 was a frequently-quoted inspiration to the early giants of modern science: “Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them” (see verses 1-4). That’s one of many Bible passages that portray investigation into the works of God as honorable, because the Creator is good and his works declare His glory.

Purity

It goes without saying that scientists need to cooperate to get research done. Science Daily reports on another study that concludes, “Purity is the moral foundation that drives people apart — and a glue that keeps them together“.  The researchers tried hard to remain noncommittal about moral values. Ostensibly, they just wanted to identify the factors that unite and divide people:

The study, led by USC researchers, combined computer science, moral psychology and sociology of networks research techniques to determine how five basic moral concerns — care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion and purity/degradation — may widen or narrow the social distance between people.

They found, however, that “the rhetoric related to the moral concern of purity, out of all the moral values, was the best predictor of distance between two people.” Scientists are not immune from these concerns. Would a scientist, for instance, want to collaborate with a peer who thinks it’s OK to kick a dog? That’s one of the morality questions the participants were asked about: “the immorality of kicking a dog.” No wonder the answer given would predict what kind of companions the participant would wish to hang with. Scientists who kick dogs are unlikely to treat their peers in a cooperative manner.

Incidentally, there’s a scandal going on about sexual harassment in scientific research groups, leading to some mighty righteous editorializing by journals (see Science Magazine). It’s just like the USC study said; purity is a moral foundation that can drive people apart or keep them together. Such recent “scientific” findings sound familiar; where have we heard that before?

Judgment

Scientists cannot deny the role of faith in a just God for building a constructive society, no matter how hard they wish to attribute it to evolutionary forces. Another paper in Nature concludes that “moralistic, knowledgeable and punishing gods promotes cooperation with strangers, supporting a role for religion in the expansion of human societies.” Without doubt, some cultures invent myths or abuse gullible people about punishing gods to get their cooperation. But instead of this being a complete ruse, the universal effectiveness of such beliefs could reflect the reality of conscience; it presupposes a core concept of morality shared by all. If capricious gods punished people for no good reason, everyone would run from pillar to post not knowing what to expect. Furthermore, belief in a “moralistic” god capable of punishing violators implies a moral code accepted by everyone in the peer group. It’s not like everyone could invent his or her own morality. Any shaman violating the code would be obvious to the others and culpable.

The researchers try to argue that group faith in a moralistic [righteous], knowledgeable [omniscient] and punishing [just] god or gods is adaptive in some evolutionary sense. If they really believe this evolved, though, they would have to conclude that faith in such a God (like the Creator presented in the Bible) is adaptive, making it the best option for scientists, too. The converse—atheism—would be maladaptive. To admit such, though, would put them in a self-refuting conundrum; why would evolution put scientists in a position of denying what is good for them? It’s interesting that Science Daily‘s coverage of this paper leads with a photo of a man kneeling and worshiping at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. What other culture presents a righteous, omniscient Judge like the Judeo-Christian Scriptures?

Wandering from God into philosophies that deny the Creator and the very real God-given conscience we all know by experience is like walking south from a north-facing compass with a rubber band tied to your waist. You can only go so far before reality snaps you back. Keep pulling, and the rubber will snap, hurtling you over a cliff. For a parable that illustrates this, read C. S. Lewis’s short novel, The Pilgrim’s Regress.

If you are an evolutionist and respect science, consider what these studies all conclude. Your best option is believing in a moral, just, and powerful God who commands honesty and punishes evil. That is “adaptive” in the terms of your own theory. In fact, the theory of evolution is the very thing that is pulling you away from that. Darwinian evolution, therefore, is maladaptive by definition. So cut the cord from Darwinian thinking and become a creationist. Your own theory demands it.

 

 

 

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