I’ve been thinking about this argument:
1. Explanations of purely natural events ought to be morally neutral; they ought to assume that natural events are, in themselves, neither good nor bad.
2. There is evil.
3. Therefore, no explanation or set of explanations of the world that confines itself to the purely natural realm can be sufficient. We need more than science to understand our life in the world.
I’m reasonably sure that the argument is formally valid. I also think that the assumptions are at least reasonable and probably, in fact, true. So how is it that some scientists, not an insignificant number it seems to me, deny the conclusion?
Perhaps I’m wrong to believe that many scientists (and many of those who take a scientific view) think that science is ultimately sufficient to explain everything. Some of the recent public attacks on religion make me think I’m right, but perhaps I misunderstand. (This, however, makes me think that I don’tâ€”thanks to Russell Fox.)
I take it that there is little argument about the truth of the first assumption. Again, perhaps I misunderstand, I’m happy to let the scientists among us correct me, but I think it important to a scientific understanding of the world not to impute moral qualities to natural events. If, however, the first assumption is true, then one must either agree with the conclusion or deny the second assumption, presumably by taking evil to be merely an expression of our likes and dislikes: “Murder is evil” amounts only to “I (or we) don’t like murder.”
The argument amounts to the conclusion, “Either we have an account of the world and human existence that goes beyond what science can tell us or we have nihilism.”