On an Amendment of the Morality of a Physicist's Professional Actions. A New Element of Inculturation of Christianity into a Scientific-Technological Civilization

Keywords: inculturation of Christianity; morality of actions with double effect; physics; scientific-technological civilization; Natural Realism; Christian revelation; epistemological climates


Physicists are bound, by the established methods and standards of Physics, to think and act within an epistemological framework that is deeply influenced by I. Kant. The epistemological climate they find themselves in is opposed to the epistemological climate of Natural Realism and, thus, to the epistemological climate of Christian revelation, when it speaks about our world. This contrast damages the internal harmony of each physicist's mental world to a degree that depends on his overall mindset as well as on his professional work. This situation is ongoing since the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century, so that the earlier civilization imbued with a realist and Christian spirit is superseded, by and large, by a scientific-technological civilization.

The historical development of Physics has brought about the situation that the professional work of physicists produces, with its doubtless successes and contributions to progress, immediately together with its morally good object two enchained morally bad effects. The first bad effect is the co-existence, in a physicist's mind, of two opposite epistemological climates, which damages the internal harmony of his mental world. That immediately entails a second bad effect, insofar a physicist who wants to be professionally competitive finds himself obliged to follow the methods and standards of physics as they happen to be now. In that way, he contributes to the lack of harmony in his own mental world and his grain of sand to perpetuate the spirit of those methods and standards. The situation is worse for a physicist who is a Christian and wants to do his professional work for the glory of God (cf. 1 Cor 10:31). In both cases, a physicist is denying in practice, by his professional work, what he is convinced of in theory, namely of Natural Realism and, additionally in the case of a Christian, that Christian revelation speaks of our world in the spirit of Natural Realism.

All that is not unknown, but nevertheless is practically passed by in the academic discourse. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to call attention to this topic and then to suggest some ways of examining more specifically the contrast of the epistemological climates. As Physics is partly shaped by experimental interventions, its historical development is also partly contingent. This is why it is possible to achieve a better harmony of the epistemological climates of Physics and Natural Realism. The article suggests some ideas in that respect, too. If these ideas turn out to be fruitful, they would contribute to the inculturation of Christianity in our scientific-technological civilization. In other words, it would be a flanking aid for the New Evangelization.


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