Never in ALL history has man acquired so much knowledge. And yet, we see few solutions to the awesome problems of humanity. This article explains how science could lead man to the source capable of solving our social dilemmas — and why it hasn't.
ONE WORD adequately describes our generation: CONFUSION. We face increasing crime, the drug explosion, moral decay. Our social world seems out of control. On the world scene, missiles, hydrogen bombs, other deadly weapons stand ready to annihilate all human life. Pollution threatens the health and life of humanity. Even more frightening is the observation that our world is increasingly running amuck concurrently with the increase in scientific knowledge. Many look to science — hoping it can apply its method to social problems. Hoping it can discover the solutions to our perplexing problems. "Why cannot this SAME generation which produced the scientific explosion," they ask, "also employ its method to pioneer sane human social relations?"
Can Science Save Us?
Many believe we can use the method of science to arrive at the answers — or at least to point us to the place where we can find the answers to the big questions facing us in this eighth decade of the twentieth century. Can science provide the key that will unlock the solutions to the problems of delinquency, of unhappy marriages, of mental illness, of crime, of financial worry — of all the big world and personal problems that plague our society? At present this possibility looks bleak. Man, seemingly, cannot cut his way through the dilemma he faces to discover sound, workable solutions. "It is obvious that something has gone wrong during the past few decades," admitted the editors of the book, Science Looks at Itself. "Increased control over nature is not providing safety and peace of mind, economic prosperity is not making people healthier or happier, technological innovations create problems of their own" (page xii). Why this jumble and turmoil in our social world? Why the paradox between stunning accomplishments in the physical world and the chaos in the social world? The answer is clear when we examine the method by which answers are sought. In our relations with the physical world, scientists have developed a method of attack — a scientific method — which searches for valid conclusions based on LAW. In the social world, no such unified attack on social problems has been developed. Here we are at the mercy of unfounded opinion, arbitrary authority, or ignorant dogma.
Can the Scientific Method Be Used?
Many social scientists reject the idea that the scientific method can be applied to the human social dilemma. The very idea of law or absolute truth in the social sphere causes many educators and sociologists to recoil in horror. Sociologist Robert M. Maclver, when speaking of teaching the humanities, exhibits the typical appalling fright of dogma — evidencing fear that any set of social rules could thrust us into another dark age of superstition. He says, "No one shall teach as though he' had the whole truth or the final formula about anything." Of social scientists, Maclver said, "they must strive forever toward the goal of final certitude that is FOREVER DENIED to them" (Politics and Society, Essays of Robert M. Maclver, edited by David Spitz, New York, Atherton Press, 1969, pp. 6, 16). The result of such thinking? No lasting, practical solutions to any problems. Crime is increasing. But experts do not know how to curb it. Our youth are on a drug and sex binge. Social workers often do not know how to make responsible citizens out of them. Nations go to war to settle difficulties. No one seems to know how to bring the world peace. Personal debt is increasing. Few seem to find their way out of financial worry. On national levels, the economic picture is bleak. But economists do not know how to solve continuing inflation. We increase in technological control of nature — manipulating the very building blocks of our eco-system. Yet, humanity is threatened with possible extinction by man-made pollution. And so it goes — in every field of endeavor.
Truth and Politics
In one of the most important fields of human conduct — government — it has been said that truth and politics do not mix well. In an article "Truth and Politics," by Hannah Arendt, of the University of Chicago, it was said: "Truth and politics are on rather bad terms with each other, and no one, as far as I know, has ever counted truthfulness among the political virtues. Lies have always been regarded as necessary and justifiable tools not only of the politician's or the demagogue's but also of the statesman's trade" (Political Theory and Social Change, David Spitz, Editor, Atherton Press, New York, 1967, p. 3). This same author then came to the astounding conclusion — which others have also reached — that by lying we can safeguard the approach to truth. With this kind of reasoning, it is no wonder that every idea, thought, concept, program is suspect. The common man knows politicians, statesmen, world leaders often do not mean what they say. We live in a world of lies, mistrust, hopeless contradictions, social despair. We are told that cigarettes are strongly suspected of contributing to cancer, but magazines print colorful cigarette advertisements. We are told chemicals in food can harm the body, but processors put them in foods, nevertheless. We are told "Thou shalt not kill." But a military strategist says it is necessary to kill 40 million of the enemy. Ordinary people do not know what to believe. The experts have no solution. Nations go from crisis to crisis. Experts disagree on what is the best — the right — course to take in economics, in social issues, in defense, in politics, in health. What has been the result? An old anonymous sage once said, "When the masters all fall out, what are the students to think?" Everyone has decided to "do his own thing." In fact the disagreeing authorities have counseled that we should make our own decisions in these matters.
Are We On Our Own?
This idea — that our own opinions are "truth" for us — is diametrically opposed to the scientific method. In fact, science thought it could dispel the idea of unproved, individual opinion being counted as "truth." Yet, instead of dispelling opinion, the method has sat by helplessly as personal opinion has advanced in the social sciences. This "individual can come to truth for-himself" idea has been voiced by many, including the late philosopher Paul Tillich. He counseled that "the individual has in himself, essentially, the responsibility to form his own convictions and act accordingly." But is this scientific? Is this really the truth? Are humans really capable of making judgments as to what is right or wrong? Is majority opinion capable of deciding what is moral or immoral? Is it really scientific for a small group of men to decide on personal opinion what is pornography and whether it should or should not be legalized? Is this NOT pre-scientific-age, opinionated dogmatism? Today, we are supposedly free to make moral decisions as never before. But is this good? Rarely will two people agree on what is moral or immoral. Are we then to discover truth by counting opinions? Is this the ultimate in scientific approach? Today, man stands confused in an age of science. Why have sociologists failed to provide the important answers in life? Why have the experts — with access to more facts than ever before — fallen out so violently? Why must man submit to the mercy of opinion in an age that prides itself on scientific exactitude and search for truth? The reason is clear. Today's problems demand VALUE judgments. "Our problems may be economic, social, scientific, political, but at their core they demand of us moral decisions — decisions of right and wrong" (Morality in America, J. Robert Moskin, Random House, 1966, p. xiii). But no one seems capable of providing knowledge of what is right or wrong.
Death of Moral Guidelines
As senior editor of Look magazine, J. Robert Moskin wrote: "We in America" — and this is true of other Western nations — "live in a society without a supreme moral authority to rule our conduct" (Morality in America, p. 15). But who is to say what is right or wrong? Who is to say that this or that is to be the absolute moral conduct? Quoting existentialist philosopher Hannah Arendt: "Whether we like it or not, we have long ceased to live in a world in which the faith in the Judaeo-Christian myth of creation is secure enough to constitute a basis and source of authority for actual laws.... "Our new difficulty is that we start from a fundamental distrust of everything merely given, a distrust of all laws and prescriptions, moral or social, that are deduced from a given comprehensive, universal whole" (Henry S. Kariel, In Search of Authority, Twentieth Century Political Thought, New York, Glencoe, 1964, p. 246). On the other hand, science meekly apologizes by saying that it cannot serve as or provide us with such a source of authority for moral decisions. "Science only provides a car and a chauffeur for us," says sociologist George Lundberg. "It does not directly, as science, tell us where to drive. The car and the chauffeur will take us into the ditch, over the precipice, against a stone wall, or into the highlands of age-long aspirations with equal efficiency" (Can Science Save Us?, p. 38). In fact, when social scientists come upon moral questions they ABANDON the scientific method and resort to philosophy. Philosopher Mortimer Adler calls the search for moral truth "ought-knowledge" — that is the knowledge of what we ought to do in a given situation. For example, should we spray our crops? Commit adultery? Go to war? Borrow money with interest? This is different from the "know-how" knowledge supplied by science and the scientific method.
Is Philosophy the Answer?
Says Adler: "We cannot go to any other of the major branches of natural knowledge — to science, to history, or to mathematics — for it... Philosophy alone, of all branches of knowledge, can tell us what we ought to seek as well as both why and how we ought to seek it. "Philosophy alone gives us knowledge of what is good and bad, right and wrong — the order of goods, the moral law, ends and means, happiness, the human virtues, and our duties" (The Conditions of Philosophy, Mortimer J. Adler, New York, Antheneum, 1965, p. 197). But WHICH philosophy? Shall we follow the philosophy of Mao Tse-Tung who says "power comes from the barrel of a gun"? Shall we follow Soviet Russia's Communist philosophy; or socialism; or democracy; or dictatorship; or nihilism? Shall we follow Christianity, Buddhism, or Islam? Shall we accept the "new morality" — where anything goes in sex and drugs? Shall we follow Victorian prudery, which claims sex is evil? Is it right to kill in any situation? To steal? To commit adultery? Should man lie in any situation, on a personal or governmental level? Obviously, philosophy per se has not been very scientific. That we need a "scientific philosophy" — one based on facts, on cause and effect, on truth, free from the desire of men — is certainly apparent. But such a "philosophy" has not yet been forthcoming. In the physical sciences a wrong theory is soon proven to be so by the facts. But what are we to do in the social sphere? Must we follow foolish ideas before the foolishness is finally, if ever, demonstrated? Can we use the scientific method to prove what is good and what is evil — without first following foolish and unproved hypotheses? Yes we CAN, indirectly, use the scientific method to lead us to that which can establish what is right and wrong. We can find "ought knowledge," if we are willing to apply the scientific method in a new, different and exciting way — and to ABIDE by the laws we discover. To do so, science must step into a field it has refused to have anything to do with. In order to solve the grave social issues confronting us, SCIENCE MUST BE WILLING TO STEP INTO THEOLOGY.
"Stepping Into Theology"
Let us explain by backing up to a previous section quoted from philosopher Mortimer Adler. In that quote, one section was left out. It here is printed in italics: "If we exclude from consideration the claim of revealed religion to offer us supernatural guidance [in the form of God-given laws)... philosophy alone, of all branches of knowledge, can tell us what we ought to seek as well as both why and how we ought to seek it." But why disregard the possibility of such supernatural guidance — without putting it to a scientific test? Unfortunately, Dr. Adler and scientists in general have generally disregarded this possibility. This "no-consideration" attitude is seen even in the natural and physical sciences. For example, how does a scientist answer the questions of WHERE matter, energy and laws governing various aspects of the physical realm came from? He doesn't. Lincoln Barnett, writer of science books for the layman tells us: "Cosmologists — [those who try to answer why the universe is as it is and where it came from] — for the most part MAINTAIN SILENCE on the questions of the ultimate origins, leaving that issue to the philosophers and theology" (The Universe and Dr. Einstein, p. 108). James A. Coleman, professor of science and popular science writer, plainly tells us: "They [scientists] do not attempt to answer questions relating to an Original cause — that is, where the laws of the universe came from or how they came into being" (Modern Theories of the Universe, p. 197). Fred Hoyle, famed astronomer, cautions the inquisitive: "If we ask why the laws of physics... we enter into the territory of metaphysics — the scientist at all events will not attempt an answer... we must not go on to ask why" (Frontiers of Astronomy, p. 342). All these and other scientists admit they avoid theology and philosophy. And no wonder — when philosophy and theology have failed to satisfy the thinking mind. Science has relegated the important "ought-knowledge" and the possibility of supernatural help in this important area, to those who have not been able or willing to find it. Can science discover it? Can it lead us to the source of "ought knowledge" by application of the scientific method WITHIN the realm of philosophy and theology? Yes, if...
A New Challenge
Science must be willing to set up bold, new hypotheses in the realm of "ought-knowledge," and to scientifically test the possibility of a supernatural being. With this in mind, this must be the proposed first challenge: QUESTION: Is there a supernatural Being who can offer us the needed guidance and help to solve our social problems? "But," you say, "we cannot verify this question. We cannot see God, or touch him." Not important! "It is an error to suppose," said two authorities in their book, An Introduction to Logic and the Scientific Method, "to suppose, as is often done, that science denies the truth of all unverified propositions. For that which is unverified today may be verified tomorrow" (Cohen and Nagel An Introduction To Logic and Scientific Method, p. 401). "Indeed the most valuable hypothesis of science," they wrote earlier, "... CANNOT BE DIRECTLY VERIFIED" (p. 207). We cannot establish by simple observation that two bodies attract each other inversely as the square of their distances — a law of physics. But "its implications can be clearly traced and then subjected to experimental confirmation" (Ibid., p. 207). The question is, can the existence of God be subjected to experimental confirmation? Absolutely, yes — if one is willing to consider the possibility of the following: The very existence of the earth — the creation, if you will — is experimental evidence indicating at least the possible existence of a Supernatural Being. No one would claim that a fine watch, with its many dozens of intricate parts, evolved and came together without the aid of a watchmaker. The existence of a watch presupposes an intelligent craftsman PUTTING TOGETHER the watch. In like manner, the existence of this vast, complex interdependency of life forms DEMANDS the existence of a Life-giver and Creator. Is not, in fact, the whole earth — and all life on it — experimental evidence proving that God exists? Let us now look at the second question. QUESTION: Is there a living Instruction Book for human beings which would contain the "ought-knowledge" necessary to explain why we have the problems we do and HOW they can be solved?
The Source of "Ought Knowledge"
A hypothesis must account for what we know — or provide the answers to the problems which generated the inquiry. In this case we are seeking the answers to the problems of this world. Is there a book which contains the ANSWERS to those problems? Does it explain WHY we have the social problems we do? A hypothesis must also "PREDICT that observation would reveal certain propositions to be true whose truth was not known or even suspected at the time the prediction was made" (Cohen and Nagel, op. cit., p. 207). There is a book which contains laws and principles explaining HOW humans ought to conduct themselves. This book, called the Bible, claims to be the revealed word of a Creator God. It PREDICTS the outcome of wrong social ideas and habits. It also lays out the effects of following the "ought-knowledge" given within its pages. If you want to PROVE the accuracy of these predictions — and unlock the key to the "ought-knowledge" we need — then it becomes YOUR responsibility to do something further. Because there is a way to submit these predictions to a test and see if they can be SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN to be accurate.
We have several books, booklets and reprint articles which discuss the answers to the above mentioned challenges. They are absolutely yours, free of charge. You can have a copy of any or all of the following: