Editorial: Masters of the World

Is science the new church?

In this issue of IAI News the battleground is science.

We believe science is rational. But, like the Church it once fought, it has its own establishment and theories to defend. Has it become the new church, with beliefs tended by the faithful and heretics excluded from publication? Or is this a travesty of an institution that has brought so many advances?

Defending the power of science are chemist Peter Atkins and particle physicist Tara Shears. Shears praises the universal clarity of mathematics, while Atkins argues that one day science will be able to explain all of existence – that includes art, music, and even religion.

In direct opposition is the UK’s most brilliant moral philosopher, Mary Midgley. Here she challenges our unquestioning belief in the authority of the physical sciences. Science, argues Midgley, has replaced religion as the dominant authority of our age. How did it happen, she asks, and why does it matter?  

Opposing Shears is Nancy Cartwright, a one-time mathematician herself, now professor of philosophy at California and Durham universities. She refutes maths' claims for universality; it's time to embrace a sliding scale of truth.

Elsewhere, behavioural scientist Dylan Evans explains what makes a good story and Julian Le Grand, one of the principal architects of choice in public services, writes in defence of competition.

Image credit: Sophie D

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