Mehdi Golshani [MG] claims that Science is not enough for humanity, we need religion (Islam).
This is based on 5 points which he laid out nicely so that I may deal with each in turn. Thank you!
His points will be highlighted in blue
1) Science and technology have been used for the destruction of our fellow human beings and the pollution of our environment, and a large number of scientists have been working in military research establishments producing means of mass destruction, and unfortunately the scientific community has played a passive role in this regard.Well crap - political and religious affiliations and greed have forced us to use science and technology to harm other people/environments? How is he defining science? Science has really been in existence so long as man has possessed creativity. We owe our houses and our clothing to scientific progress. Surely MG enjoys being clothed. Science can be used both constructively and destructively, but we need to advance our scientific understanding if we ever want to live in harmony with nature. We must conduct studies and develop technology to know how to and to be able to interact properly with nature. Good technology can be used to 'heal' nature and to reduce our impact on the earth. Before modern technologies mankind still tore up the earth, made land infertile, and altered ecosystems. Our scientific understanding has taught us how to treat the earth better. For example we could farm land and then when the fields become depleted of nutrients clear more land and more land and keep moving. People used to do this. But we have learned about crop rotation and can figure out what crops to grow and when to keep the soil nutrients balance so that only one plot of land is used. Genius!
Unfortunately military organizations do employ people to conduct research. Is this 'sciences' fault? Do religious people not believe in warfare? Their holy books are filled with war and violence, so that can't be correct. On its own pure science is not a weapon, different divisions must be in place for science to be used improperly. Often the division are political, economic, or even RELIGIOUS. No man made weapon has ever slaughtered more living creatures than did God when he flooded the earth - and no technology has ever been used to target only babies and slaughter them by the thousand as did God when he smote the first born of every Egyptian. Not that I believe those things ever happened (they are not documented by any culture outside of the bible), but religious people believe they have occurred. A true scientist performs research out of curiosity - it takes someone else to twist his work into a monstrosity. Pure science operates outside of political and religious bodies - just look at all the global experiments in modern physics, for example the LHC brings together people worldwide to learn together - peacefully.
Science provides a way for us to help the earth and to live better - it is up to us as a race to choose how to use it.
2) The goal of scientific activity has changed. Before the dawn of modern science, there were two main goals for the pursuit of scientific knowledge:
For some people, scientific activity satisfied their sense of curiosity about nature and its mysteries and beauties.
Another old popular view about the goal of scientific enterprise is the outlook of the monotheistic religions towards nature. Here, scientific activity is for the sake of understanding God’s Handiwork in nature and to make care of essential needs of human individuals and human societies.
During the twentieth century a third attitude toward science became prevalent: seeking science for its practical or material benefits. This view has become dominant among many of the contemporary governments of the world.
Stop. MG is clearly no scientist. I been involved in scientific research at national laboratories, I have conducted research on the LHC with an international group of scientists. Why do they work all day, go home, keep working, and get underpaid for their level of education and incredibly difficult work? Because they are curious and love knowledge - they thirst to understand nature. The first goal of scientific knowledge is still very much THE goal.
I am not convinced that the second goal MG lists was ever a goal of science. To understand God's handiwork? I guess the take care of humans part is a goal of science. Hence modern medicine, even crop rotation aids humanity. A lot of modern science is devoted to energy research so that we may secure a clean energy to aid future generations. I don't understand how anyone could think scientific activity is no longer used to benefit humanity. MG's idea that only monotheistic religions employed science is naive. The Chinese were in no way monotheistic and they made the first great scientific advancements. Many polytheistic cultures have used science (Think Greek). Clearly his Islamic history lesson was distorted; he is assuming that understanding God's handiwork is different than a curiosity to understand nature (are the two not the same thing for a religious scientist?). This portion of the second goal is then the same as the first goal.
MG's qualm about modern science is that it is used for practical or material benefits. The scientist, that is, the researcher, is still conducting research because of his curiosity. Only after the science is developed can the material products be made. The material products are typically produced by engineers and they are made because of their benefits (one of which may be happiness). Practical benefits are not a poor goal to work towards. Because developing a cure for cancer is a practical benefit is MG suggesting that doing research towards such an end is wrong? Many scientists do not even feel the field of medicine is a science however, in which case science is still typically a pursuit of knowledge because of curiosity. Governments may invest in developing a certain item, be it weapons or clean energy, but this practical approach is not the scientists fault and many of the practical uses are beneficial. Weapons will be developed because of outside pressures or backwards individuals - just as religious extremists will do extreme things, humans are not perfect.
3) Before the development of modern science, scientists had a more comprehensive outlook towards the study of nature and were after giving a unified picture of the world. All parts of science had to be accommodated within their holistic world view. We can see this attitude among all of the eminent Muslim scientists of the Islamic civilization and among the pioneers of modern science ( Galileo, Kepler , Newton, Boyle,…).
In our time, however, scientists have become specialists who are mostly concerned with their own specialty rather than being after a holistic view of nature.
One reason for the development of this attitude has been the absence of philosophical concern among scientists and the prevalence of an instrumentalist attitude among scientists ,being content with empirically adequate theories. The existence of some conceptual problems in some empirically successful theories, like quantum theory , has intensified this outlook.
First off - Modern Science -> arbitrary cut off point. At what point does science become modern?
Anyway, is seems that scientists no longer are after giving a unified picture of the world, nope science does not need to holistic, or relate to the whole. WHAT!? All the different areas of active science research are after the same overarching goal, a complete picture of nature/the universe! Does chemistry relate to physics and do both relate to biology? Why yes. All parts are necessary and all scientists care about the whole.
This poor man, MG, is upset because "modern science" requires so much education that scientists must specialize. By the time graduate school is done with we are some where around 25 years old at least! Science has progressed so far that there is a lot to learn, of course scientists specialize. That does not mean that they are not longer working on pieces of the same whole. That means that lay people may not understand intricate contemporary theories and therefore make crude assumptions, like MG's assumption that scientists have no philosophical concern. Almost every lab has a research department and a theory department. Theorists love to theorize, that is all they do! They can do so without needing empirical evidence. Philosophers interact with the scientific field too. I suspect that MG idolizes scientists of the past because they did not have to specialize as much. Science was not as advanced. However, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton all specialized to an extent - for none were biologists! All of them also used empirical evidence when it was available. Theories often start without evidence, they were philosophical then and they are philosophical now. This third point was absurd, someone needs to brush up on his philosophy of science*.
4) Modern science confines itself to the material real, and confers reality only to those things that can be rooted in sense data.
Empirical verification is the court of ultimate appeal. Therefore, spiritual realities are considered either as unreal or reducible to physics. This has led to the negligence of God and the spiritual dimension of humankind and the separate development of science and culture, and it has led to the confinement of human beings to the material realm, with no higher aspiration than fulfilling their material needs.
What is this point addressing? Science is not enough for humanity was his thesis. Science considers spiritual reality unreal. Therefore, science is not enough? So here MG is making the unmentioned and unwarranted assumption that either spiritual realities are real and/or humans have spiritual needs that need fulfilled. This no longer even an attack on science but rather a bold assertion. If humans cannot live happily without a sense of spirituality, than we should not find many atheists and certainly not any happy ones. But many philosophers and scientists (...and probably other people too) are atheists and are content.
Empirical verification is our only means of verification. As flawed as our senses are, we must still employ them. We just cannot over rule reason with sensory data and should not be surprised when theories or past observations are shown to be wrong or misleading. For example when we drop a rock we see it fall straight, it land directly beneath the point of release. If the earth was rotating the rock should fall parabolically and land elsewhere, for the earth will have moved during flight. Our senses tell us the rock fall straight, because we share the rotational motion with the rock therefore, we cannot observe it. The rock really is falling parabolically, just not within our reference frame. Our senses can easily be wrong. Just because science neglects God or reduces his impact on the world/evidence to scientific standard does not at all imply that science is not enough.
5) It is a commonly held view in the scientific circles that science and ethics are two independent spheres of human concern.
...Depending on who you ask. If you ask a physicist what his study of super conductors says about ethics or whether he knows of physics research that makes a statement of ethics he would probably be confused and reply that ethics is not related to his study of inanimate material. If you ask a biologist and/or a neuroscience researcher if there research is related to or makes statements about ethics they may tell you that it does. The biological correlates of human ethics and behavior are becoming increasingly studied. Just reading "Why We Feel: The Science of Human Emotions" by Victor S. Johnston, or Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values" will open your eyes to this growing field of research.
Atheists can be moral, religious people can use ethics to decide which parts of their holy books to ignore (typically the parts about killing people). Ethics seem to come from an outside source. The Greeks did not need gods to determine ethics. Plato and Aristotle wrote brilliantly without the God of western religions. This 5th point is an assumption. An assumption that is becoming increasingly false.
If MG wishes to claim that Science is not enough for humanity than he must show what it is missing. He is claiming we need God. Science does not provide God. Therefore, Science is not enough. Well he must first demonstrate that we need God. So far as I am concerned his argument was weak.
In his conclusion he states, "I don’t think that the commitment of Muslim scientists to the Islamic worldview would dissuade them from being equal partners in the world scientific community. The history of the glorious Islamic civilization is a good witness to this claim." Is he talking about how the Islamic civilizations begun developing slower than the rest of the world? The Islamic culture stagnated after the crusades both ethically and scientifically. Where western civilization has yet to pervade the Islamic world they still stone people to death and fail to properly employ science. I do not know what glorious civilization he is speaking of. The most glorious portions of the Islamic community are those where the governments have at least partially shaken off the shackles of religious doctrine.
*The philosophy of science may be discussed in a later entry.