‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Peter Singer, Ethics and Belief in God.

There is an interesting item about ethics and the environment in the Guardian 'Comment is Free' by Mark Vernon - Without belief in moral truths, how can we care about climate change? - Peter Singer admits his brand of utilitarianism struggles with the challenge of climate change in a way Christian ethics does not.

Singer comments that he 'regrets' he doesn't believe in God and that he seems to accept that only faith in a creator can properly ground objective morality.

Tim Mulgan, professor of moral and political philosophy at the University of St Andrews also offered some interesting comments. According to Vernon, he explained "why ethical objectivism may be vital to making a robust ethical case against environmental degradation." This is because "Only a doctrine of creation can affirm that we are fundamentally linked to the natural order manifest on Earth. The fantasy of fleeing this planet, or disappearing into virtual reality, won't actually do. Our island home matters because the lives of human beings go well only when her natural systems go well too. Or, as the psalmist intuited many centuries ago: "Truth shall spring out of the earth."

Monday, 23 May 2011

Aborting girls?

The BBC is reporting a story about abortion in India, and the preference for having male children over female ones. With the possibility now of determining a child's sex before birth there is a relative increase in the number of abortions (foeticide) and even infanticide of baby girls as opposed to male abortions. This is leading to a greater number of male children under 6 years old. The main reason is that male children attract a large dowry for the family upon marriage. A similar situation has arisen in China where there is a preference for male children.
See India's unwanted girls

It will be interesting to see how this impacts upon the whole question of the ethics of abortion generally.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

BCSE, Education Policy and Respecting Religious Diversity

The BCSE, with support from Ekklesia, are campaigning to restrict some religious groups from presenting their views freely, and therefore in a way that respects their beliefs. They wish to stop creationists from claiming any scientific validity for their position. In other words, creationists may only speak in schools if they maintain that their views are not real or even false.  I have blogged about this here

So what will be lost by this? Children will be prevented from asking questions in a way that allows them to think for themselves, but instead will be encouraged to think of education in terms of learning 'official facts.' This will not prepare children for higher education where ideas are debated with more freedom. Science itself will potentially be damaged by this, because science advances through dialogue and is not based on authority. Children from religious backgrounds will feel that their beliefs are not respected in the classroom and will turn off of learning altogether.

One may hope that government ministers have greater wisdom when considering policy in light of campaigns from various pressure groups.