Friday, November 10, 2006

The Ends of Science

In the November, 2006, issue of First Things, Eric Cohen's article The Ends of Science discusses the optimism and discontent of scientists. Cohen argues that modern science has always had both a "democratic pity" that promised to help cure disease and reduce discomfort and an "aristocratic guile" in which scientists sought "to be free from the constraints of the common man."
(To me that sounds like Uncle Andrew in C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew.)

Moreover, Cohen argues, scientists are not well-prepared to determine whether the science they do is justifiable, though they try mightily to argue that progress is good and thus the potential for scientific advance is sufficient reason for any procedure or experiment, no matter how morally deficient it may be.

Finally, in its pursuit of the truth, science can be noble and dignified. But despite scientists' amazing achievements, modern science is inherently limited, for "its powers do not satisfy our deepest longings; its victories are always temporary and its losses always final." We are born with a desire to know our Creator; only He (and not science) can defeat death.