Essays/Ethical and Spiritual Issues in GE.htm，以及易象乾著「佛教與生物科學」，公佈於http://Online.sfsu.edu/~rone/GE%20EssaysBuddhism%20And%20Biotechnology.htm。
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Hawking's views illustrate that even brilliant scientists, whose understanding
of science should be impeccable, can get caught in the web
of scientism. "Scientism"17 refers to the extending of
science beyond the use of the scientific method and wrongly
attempting to use it as the foundation for belief systems.
Scientism promotes the myth that science is the sole source
of truth about ourselves and the world we live in.
scientific research is dependent on artificial closed system
models, yet the cosmos is an open system. Therefore, there
are a priori limitations to the relevance of scientific data
to the open system of the natural world. What seems to be
the case in the laboratory may or may not be valid in the
natural world17a. There we cannot know through scientific
methodology the full extent of the possible effects of
genetic alterations in living creatures.18
17. Scientism is sometimes called New Humanism to distinguish it from the Humanism of the Renaissance.
17a. Scientists learn in a laboratory that their objects of study behave according to existing theories. This is not surprising since theories have been formulated on the basis of laboratory experience. Scientists, but also many other people, tend not only to apply the principles found under such conditions to a specific experimental system, but also to consider them to be valid in other contexts. The impression is thus created that knowledge developed in closed systems under controlled conditions has unlimited validity in open systems as well. This conclusion is neither founded in theoretical considerations, nor always confirmed by practical experience. It becomes particularly significant when we attempt to predict the result of interventions in the natural environment on the basis of laboratory experiments.
The aim of laboratory experiments is to create conditions which are as constant or controllable as possible. In the environment, this is not feasible; the factors of influence (temperature, humidity, the flow of substances, the variety of specific species, etc.) change constantly. These changes follow certain regular principles, but can hardly be predicted exactly. Rare occurrences (earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, droughts, volcanic eruptions, etc.) are always possible. Since the characteristics of living organisms in the environment are also defined by their relationships to other living and non-living elements in the environment, it must be expected that they will behave in relation to these environmental parameters. In particular, in the case of genetically engineered organisms not previously found in the environment, exact predictions about their behavior and thus about specific risk potential cannot be made. This is beyond the theoretical and experimental borders of the laboratory. In the confrontation between primary, evolutionary nature and this secondary, synthetic nature, uncertainties and risks emerge which can no longer be grasped and described with the theories of experimental science.
...we are confronted today with a situation in which genetically modified organisms are being released into the environment. At present the numbers of different modified organisms which are to be released will be relatively small. The problem of predictability of their behavior in the environment will become even more significant when large-scale application of such products takes place in the future. By often failing to explicitly point out the theoretical and practical problems of predictability, scientists mask the experimental nature of such releases and the fact that the knowledge necessary to understand and describe risks can only be won through such experiments. However, release experiments, like any other, can fail. In some cases, the organisms will not be able to establish themselves in the environment; in others they may cause irreversible and large-scale damage.... Since the outcomes of such releases into the environment cannot be exactly predicted, they are in fact experiments in the environment and with the environment. (Regine Kollek, "The Limits of Experimental Knowledge: A Feminist Perspective on the Ecological Risks of Genetic Engineering"
Biopotitics: A Feminist and Ecological Reader on Biotechnology, Vandana Shiva and Ingunn Moser, eds. (London and New Jersey: Zed Books, 1995) 106-108.)
18. In addition to the physical effects, many are also concerned with mental and spiritual effects, areas clearly beyond the boundaries of scientific concern. Since science does not deal with the relations between the mental and spiritual dimensions and the physical dimension of life, science cannot tell us anything about how genetic engineering will affect our mental and spiritual life. Transcendence is the potential of all sentient life, not just human, for spiritual wisdom and liberation. Transcendence is meaningless from the perspective of scientific models.
According to non-Cartesian views of the relation between the physical and the spiritual, the condition of our bodies and nervous systems affects our minds and vice versa. For example, the karma-based ethics of many Asian religious systems insists on purity of both mind and body as a prerequisite for spiritual progress. This perspective leaves open the possibility that changing our genetic structures or those of the natural environment may adversely influence our potential for transcendence. Genetic engineering has the potential for altering both our bodies and their environments in ways that lessen their ability to support the process of personal spiritual transformation that is at the core of most paths to realization of the human potential for transcendence. No amount of scientific research can tell us anything about this danger.
See also Ron Epstein "Ethical and Spiritual Issues in Genetic Engineering"
Ahirrsa Voices: a Quarterly Journal for the Promotion of Universal Values, 5(4), Oct. 1998, pp. 6-7
<http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/GE Essays/Ethical and Spiritual
Issues in GE.htm>, and Ron Epstein, "Buddhism and Biotechnology"
<http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/GE Essays/Buddhism and Biotechnology.htm>.
If science is understood in terms of hypotheses from data collected according to scientific method, then the claims of Hawking in the name of science extend far beyond what science actually is. He is caught in an unconscious web of presuppositions and values that deeply affect both his hypotheses and his interpretation of data. It is not only Hawking who is caught in this web but all of us, regardless of our philosophical positions, because scientism is part of our cultural background that is very hard to shake. We all have to keep in mind that there is more to the world than what our current crop of scientific instruments can detect.
To be continued