April 12, 2010

Science & Morality

Have always been a fan of the TED website, and their collection of talks. Having just heard one of their videos, I was browsing the site, trying to learn a bit more about them - turns out, they actually encourage embedding and discussing their videos. Cue, glint in eye. So, here we are.

Morality, in the sense discussed in the video below is the definition of right and wrong, irrespective of what people think. Sam Harris, argues that, on the contrary to what many people assume, science is capable of reaching such definite answers on its own, based on facts, and can therefore complete eliminate the need for a morality-based declarations. Well thought and presented of course - but for me the crux of the matter lay in the Q&A at the end. When asked to prove the immorality of the Burqa, Sam scientifically fell back to the answer the basically said - we may not have a rigorous proof now, but given the rate of our scientific progress, we will eventually get there.

In his answer, I believe, Sam was absolutely correct and negligent. Yes, science will eventually get there, but people need an answer now - on what is correct and what is not. People have all been created with consciousness, but a varying degree of intellect. Waiting for an intellect-appealing morality, that may eventually get here is a very bad survival skill. Instead, society taking advantage of the common denominator, appealed to human consciousness. Turns out, morality is a lot like having immortal parents. Even if you replace parents with Man with beard in sky, things work just as well. True, such a replacement has side-effects, a lot of side-effects, but at least it kept humanity going till science would eventually evolve to appeal to the most intellectually-challenged among us.

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