The Uniqueness of Humankind

“Science cannot, in and of itself, give an account of human dignity, because dignity is based on human freedom. Freedom is a concept that lies outside the scope of science. Science cannot locate freedom, because the scientific world is one of causal relationships. A stone is not free to fall or not to fall. Lightning does not choose when and where to strike. A scientific law links one physical phenomenon to another without the intervention of will and choice. To the extent that there is a science of human behaviour, there is an implicit denial of the freedom of human behaviour. That is precisely what Spinoza, Marx and Freud were arguing: that freedom is an illusion. But if freedom is an illusion, then so is the human dignity based on that freedom. Science cannot but deconsecrate the human person, thereby opening the gate to a possible desecration. At this point, the voice of morality – the very voice that has been progressively weakened over the past fifty years – has to intervene, and explain explicitly what is unique about humankind, and what we must cultivate and protect in the coming years.”

Morality, Chapter 17, p. 243