Does Science provide the foundation of "Ethics" or Morality as some of the New Atheists Claim?

Some claim that "Science provides ethical boundaries".  They claim that science is based upon telling the "Truth" which is a very important "ethical boundary".  They claim that doubting ones self and one's known beliefs is a core tenant of science.  Some would claim that "Science" can provide a better world, a more moral society than religion.  Religion's time is past it should be put away like a mad dog, or a rabid wolf.   In science "Ethics" should be based upon objective empirical facts not some individual's or societies imagined "Myths". If you think this is a "Straw Man" attack look at the bottom of the page for references and quotes.

Let us look at this idea and see the "Truth" about this claim.

Here then is the plain "Truth" according to science:

  1. There is no difference between a human and an animal - humans have no greater/lesser intrinsic value than any other creature.
  2. There is no supposed "human rights" for an individual - it is only a "Myth" believed in by the society.
  3. There is no such a thing as the concept of Liberty, equality, justice, goodness, or the concept of "morality" these are only "Myths" believed in by the society to promote cooperation and stability.
  4. Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural.  But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural
  5. The human being has evolved based upon the fitness of the individuals and their society as a whole.
  6. Religion and many other Ideologies are merely the shared "Myths" of a culture and are not based upon any subjective or empirical evidence.
  7. "Morality" is defined by the society it could be any rule or law that the "culture" or "society" deems should be believed.
  8. Knowledge is power and no knowledge should be curtailed, restricted or blocked in any way
  9. Human life has absolutely no intrinsic meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion.  It is a "Myth" that a person may believe in but there is no intrinsic meaning to an individual more than a rock or a pond.
  10. Feelings and emotions of an individual are mere chemical states and can be altered by chemicals, or environmental changes

Whether you want to hear them or not.. these are the "Truths" being taught by science and the new Atheists. These ideas should be the axioms that are to be the basis of our moral decisions.

Here are some of the results of these ideas if taken to their full implications - none of these ideas would be "inherently" wrong.  For nothing is.  Right and Wrong is decided by the society through an empirical way, not because of some supposed "belief" by an individual or group of individuals.  If the society chooses any of the following concepts there should be no "Moral" "objective" good or bad, to any of these possibilities for none can be empirically morally correct or wrong.

Does Science provide Morality to a culture?

Many Atheists will also state that darwinian concepts should not be used as the basis of determining how we should be governed or the determination of our laws.  Yet - the question could then be asked.. why not?  If not darwinian concepts what should the concepts be? Who decides... and why?

Perhaps it should be the idea of the greatest "Good" for society?  What then is the definition of "Good" - what is good for one may not be good for another?  Who decides... you?

Science cannot tell us anything about what is "Good" or what is "Bad", or what is "Right" or what is "Wrong" all of those terms are by scientific principles mere myths of a current culture and/or society.  It could tell us what is effective based upon a specific criteria.  However, even in that point - that doesn't say anything intrinsic about that criteria or condition.  They have no philosophical basis for these types of "Moral" ideas.

Some claim that rationality provides morality to a culture.  This is yet again by their own definition, an example of the confirmation of their supposed "Myth of rationality" of the society in which they live.  What makes any choice by a society for any rule or regulation by majority rule, or by whatever means the culture decides, "right" or "wrong".  It cannot be "right" or "wrong" for there is none and as per science we should try it and see if it works, and choose some reason to determine success or fail. That is the scientific method and the means by which we should govern, and be governed.  The determination of success or fail - could be anything it need not be "just", "fair", or "good" for these terms have no meaning to the scientific perspective.

Science by definition is uncertain - it is based upon evidence and interpretation.  It is by definition the subjective opinion of the current group of living individuals.  Often times scientific views, and or beliefs do not change in a society even though there is overwhelming evidence accordingly.   History shows that in many cases it is years, and even generations before a belief is changed.  (You will notice it is a "belief")  Thus the laws based upon these beliefs may in many cases take years, and perhaps even generations to be changed - thus causing or allowing the suffering and pain of many individuals based upon in-complete, invalid scientific conclusions.  

Science is cold and empirical, decisions are not made by feelings, by emotions, or by any such un-measurable method.  Does the data match - use it for the choice.  Nothing else need be considered.  Feelings, and emotions are merely chemical states of an individual and can be altered via chemicals and or environment.  Go with the data...


I'm not a fan of the implications of this type of reasoning and the minimization of religion and it's positive impact on society.  Many of these individuals have even stated that teaching "Religion" to children is a type of child abuse, mind control, and the perpetuation of superstition and falsehoods. 

Issues with this concept that Science/Rationalism can create Morality:

Religion's Claims

Science/Reason should not replace "Religion" in our society as the basis for moral judgments and the determination of what society deems should be the laws and regulations by which they are governed.  Religion has it's problems - it has it's issues, however the belief in a supreme being greater than us.  An individual who is a super intelligence, who knows and understands what is "Real" and not subjective opinion has been, and in most societies is the basis of current beliefs concerning what is right and what is wrong.

This claim, whether it be wrong or right, allows society to reach beyond its weak scientific beliefs and claims, and believe in an objective "Good" and "Evil", an objective "Truth" and "Error",  and base their morality and "shared beliefs" in this idea.  Even if science claims that this is a "Myth" or not empirical it is philosophically stronger, and a better claim to what is true, and or good.  This is because it grasps at an ideal good or bad, an ideal concept of truth and error and basis the societies moral beliefs upon what this ideal is. This is like a mathematical limit to which society reaches to promote good, and just laws.  Not on some currently held "Myth" known as the current understanding of science.  For science as a basic tenant says that "our current knowledge is subject to error" and we should doubt all that we believe if evidence showing it is wrong is ever found.  Thus it isn't based upon some ideal good/bad or truth/error concept but the current weak understanding of simple men - who deem they know what is right. 

Appendix - references of this type of idea - it is what some people actually believe and are promoting.

“As far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion.” 
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
If you base your beliefs and actions on Myths that are incorrect you will inherently do things that are irrational. We should use the rational mind - to develop a society where we can live together as a society.
“Individuals who are situated in a vast informational catchment area can compile a moral know-how that is more sustainable and expandable than even the most righteous prophet could devise in isolation” he continues. So we have nothing to fear from the “mission creep” of the scientific knowledge into the hallowed precincts of ethics and philosophy. Knowledge is improved, not diminished, by more knowledge, even if we have to replace long cherished delusions such as the supremacy of the human conscience with evidence-based facts.

Impact of Moral Values on Science

Most scientists believe that one basic characteristic of science is that it deals with facts, not values. Science is objective, while values are not. Certain scientists see themselves as working in the privileged domain of certain knowledge. Such views of science are also closely allied in the public sphere with the authority of scientists. Recently, however, some scholars have challenged the notion of science as value-free, and thereby have raised questions about the authority of science and its methods.

I agree with you that most scientists probably don't promote science as the basis of morality - yet there is a trend to do so... Thus the initial post - wake up it's happening and we should be a voice against this.