The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #107407   Message #2256593
Posted By: GUEST
08-Feb-08 - 03:56 AM
Thread Name: BS: Still no gods 2008 (continued)
Subject: RE: BS: Still no gods 2008 (continued)
Stephen Jay Gould made a fundamental point about the science/ regigion debate. He pointed out that science is entirely about what is, and has nothing to say about what ought to be. For example, the scientific fact of evolution by natural selection says nothing whatsoever about how we should treat the mentally handicapped. He supported the idea of "non- overlapping magisteria" (NOMA)- the idea that science says nothing about morals, and religion has nothing to say about the physical systems that constitute the Universe of nmatter.

Which I broadly agree with. Except that I disagree that the NOMA of moral and social behaviour is the exclusive magisterium of religion. Matters of how humans should relate to each other, how we should interact with the environment, what is "art", what constitutes 'good' and 'evil'- all these are the magisterium of novels, plays, music, plastic arts- and to my mind religious belief is (just) one more expression of these spiritual (with a small s) considerations. Read the Bible (or Koran, or Upanishads) as a collection of stories, and you will learn much about the evolution of morality; read it as an infallible book of rules and prescriptions, and you are guilty of failing to learn the lessons of all that has happened since they were written.