Is it limited to acts of humanitarian mercy, such as feeding the poor, protecting the earth, housing the homeless? Or could the idea be stretched to include educating the ignorant, challenging limited mindsets, supporting rational thought, examining ethical consequences of rationality and scientific exploration?
I've been percolating an idea about our congregation offering a Symposium on Science, Ethics, and Meaning. We are hosting a presentation on Charles Darwin and The Origin of Species later this month and my idea has grown out of that presentation, which will be offered by a noted retired anthropology professor here on the island, Dr. Mary Kay Sandford.
I am alarmed by the proliferation of anti-science, anti-intellect, anti-education mentality in the United States, which seems to underlie so much of the ultra-conservative angst in our land. It seems to me it would be a public service and even a social action effort to combat this attitude by offering community presentations on scientific issues and their effect on humankind, the ethics required by new technology and discoveries, and the impact they have on how we make meaning for ourselves.
I'm thinking things like: Bioethics; Medical Technology and the End of Life; Physics and Philosophy; the Hubble Telescope and the Large Hadron Collider---looking for the beginning and the end of the universe; the Human Brain---and the Mind of God; Trade-offs in Scientific Research---the use of lab animals.
We've got to do something to offer truthful education to people, it seems to me. That appears to be a true social justice issue.