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A Moral Foundation

Gerson at the WaPo: [1]

There are few things in American politics more irrationally ideological, more fanatically faith-based, than the accusation that Republicans are conducting a “war on science.”

According to Hillary Clinton, the Bush administration has declared “open season on open inquiry.” “When I am president,” she promises, “scientific integrity will not be the exception; it will be the rule.”

Which means, of course that you’ll tell Al Gore to sit down and shut up, right, Hill?
I mean, ignoring, of course, all the stuff Bush has been able to accomplish, which Gerson does a fair job of scratching the surface of:

The exceptions, in this case, are pretty exceptional: Elias Zerhouni, who has reformed the National Institutes of Health with widely praised efficiency; Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who helped set in motion large-scale AIDS treatment in Africa; Francis Collins of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the effort to map the human genome. The “war on science” recently has allowed some extraordinary achievements.

Exactly so. And understand, we’re not talking about particualr candidates, here, we’re talking about the prevailing worldviews of left to right. In that light, Gerson’s identification of the reasons behind these statements is spot on, too.

For the most part, these accusations are a political ploy — actually an attempt to shut down political debate. Any practical concern about the content of government sex-education curricula is labeled “anti-science.” Any ethical question about the destruction of human embryos to harvest their cells is dismissed as “theological” and thus illegitimate.

But of all the passages in his article, this is perhaps the most remarkable, and perhaps the one the left will be screaming most loudly about if they deign to respond at all:

In “Science and the Left,” his insightful article in the latest issue of the New Atlantis, Yuval Levin argues that a belief in the power of science is central to the development of liberalism — based on the assertion that objective facts and rational planning can replace tradition and religious authority in the organization of society. Levin summarizes the liberal promise this way: “The past was rooted in error and prejudice while the future would have at its disposal a new oracle of genuine truth.”

But the oracle of science is silent on certain essential topics. “Science, simply put,” says Levin, “cannot account for human equality, and does not offer reasons to believe we are all equal. Science measures our material and animal qualities, and it finds them to be patently unequal.”

Without a firm, morally grounded belief in equality, liberalism has been led down some dark paths

And there, dear reader, is the crux of it all. The lack of a moral foundation, due to an over-reliance on science…. morality being something science simply cannot address. This is the logical conclusion of the attempted separation of religion and morality. this goes to the point I made to Billy the other day in the Ramble about the enlightenment, and how that would not have been possible without the moral underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian ethic that predominated western culture.

Rights, you see, are not proved by science. they are in fact, as I have said often enough previously [2], a cultural construct. When we depend on science to prove rights exist, we find that in fact it cannot prove that existence. That’s because rights are based upon the culture’s  morality and that in turn upon it’s dominant Judeo-Christian ethic, which in it’s own turn is rooted in the religions thereof.

We ignore or try to minimize that relationship at our own peril.