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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020

Chapter 19 - Scientific Naturalism

from Part IV - Scientia Humanitatis: Reflections on Scientific Humanism


This article was initially published in the August 2017 issue of the journal Theology and Science under the above title and subtitle. It was commissioned by Ted Peters, Research Professor Emeritus in Systematic Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Center for Theory and the Natural Sciences. Even though Ted and I disagree on a great many things, we share a love and respect for science, for the question of extraterrestrial intelligence and for what such a discovery would mean to humanity in general and religion in particular. When Ted invited me to make the best case I could for a scientific defense of objective values and morals, I could not resist the challenge. My 2015 book The Moral Arc is a much longer and thorough defense of this worldview – especially my claim that science and reason can determine moral values – but herein I offer some new strategies for addressing the Is-Ought barrier problem to avoid the naturalistic fallacy that one cannot derive an ought from an is. And I relished the challenge of doing so in a more succinct statement.