Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Will to Knowledge

Imagine a society consisting of two groups of people, called Alphas and Omegas, who quarrel with one another over questions of morality. The Alphas contend that morality ought to be based on the dictates of a god who created the human race and reveals his will to it. The Omegas deny the existence of this or any other god and argue for a morality founded not on the fiction of divine revelation but on the reality of human knowledge.

The strength of the Omegas’ position depends in large part on a scientific theory that states the human species was not created by intelligent design but came into being over time through the operation of a natural, organic, and impersonal process. The evidence in support of this theory is massive and persuasive, so much so in fact that the Omegas cannot understand how the Alphas can continue to disclaim it.

As the dispute continues, a curious thing happens. Some researchers working within the paradigm of the great scientific theory, themselves Omegas and therefore ideologically committed to knowledge in principle, begin to uncover evidence that calls into question the particular knowledge upon which the Omegas base their conception of morality. The general community of Omegas reacts furiously against this new evidence and categorically rejects it as false, continuing, however, to revere the theory in its prior form as the antidote to the morality of the Alphas. The Alphas for their part are relatively uninterested in the new evidence. They simply persist in dismissing the theory as a whole.

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