How To Avoid A Conflict

In October, one of the two discoverers of the DNA molecule and Nobel Prize winner, Dr. James Watson, lost his job when he intimated a link between race and IQ. Slate Magazine’s William Saletan wrote a series of articles on the topic, in which he argued that we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that this is true.

Today, Steven Metcalf writes also in Slate that Saletan is simply wrong on the science.

Saletan’s analogy implies that the conflict over race, intelligence, and genetics is a conflict between science and superstition. It’s not; it’s a conflict between science and science. Worse, even when Saletan shades his rhetoric carefully, the reader is left with the impression that science—hard, empirical disinterested science—is trending to a hereditarian explanation for the IQ gap, and that bad or weak science—really a kind of wishful, mushy, quasi-superstitious scientism—is on the side of an environmental or cultural explanation. If you explore the subject in any depth, or even just click through to some of Saletan’s own links, you find the opposite is closer to the truth.

So how are we to know which argument is best?

As with so much in science today, the lay person is simply not prepared to judge. He must rely “on authority”. When authority is divided on a given issue, confusion reigns.

Naw – it doesn’t. There’s a single word that reminds me that this entire issue is a classic tempest in a teapot. The word is dignity. From the last paragraphs of the linked article, Cardinal William J. Levada, who now stands in the position of Pope Benedict when he was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, is quoted on his experience as Archbishop of San Francisco:

The experience underscored “the need to provide our Catholic people who practice their faith the tools to enter into informed dialogue with their fellow citizens about the increasing number of issues in the field of bioethics that are finding their way into the democratic political process, either in the legislative process or at the ballot box,” he said.

The cardinal also stressed the importance of helping Catholics “avoid the tensions, even opposition, between the support of life and the promotion of justice and peace, too often in imitation of the political divisions that mark our cultures.”

Is there ever a conflict between science and our religion or between science and our humanity, for that matter? Not if you allow people the dignity they deserve as human beings.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Catholism, Science

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