The latest phenomenon in popular science publishing is a group of books claiming that we shall be able to derive a system of ethics from the latest studies in evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and biology. In place of religious gurus, we now have scientific gurus who promise salvation to mankind.
Underlying all of this is the unquestioned assumption that life itself is good. This manifests itself in the phrase ‘evolutionary advantage’, which essentially means survival. To exist is to have an ‘advantage’. Our ancestors were ‘an evolutionary success’; other creatures were ‘failures’. ‘We’ adapted so as to be here. Of course, all of this ignores the fact that every creature must die, that ‘success’ in evolutionary adaptation simply means delaying death for a little while longer.
Similarly, by speaking of ‘group advantage’ the notion of a common purpose and a solid ontological identity is reintroduced. ‘We’ are going somewhere, ‘we’ are ‘heading in the right direction’.
As a result of the imposition of the language of agency, goal, and manipulation on the blind processes of biochemistry mankind can, under the guise of science, reassume its dream of purpose and progress.
Yet all that can be derived from mechanistic materialism is that everything is but an amoral, mindless manifestation of matter and energy.
It appears that science, for all of its self-proclaimed ‘intergity’, ‘lack of bias’, ‘objectivity’, and 'clear-sightedness’ has become just one more vehicle in humanity’s desperate quest for meaning and purpose.