Harari assumes a God-of-the-gaps approach to science and progress generally; he assumes that, because we now know how things like disease, weather, and war arise and function, we can no longer chalk these things up to God’s Will. Though this is a faulty assumption—just because we know about the biochemistry of sickle cell anemia doesn’t mean it cannot be part of God’s plan—it is not an uncommon one, especially in scientific humanism.
A higher view of God’s sovereignty over nature holds that God is at the root of all activity—that he controls the quantum fluctuations of every sub-atomic particle in the universe, from the big bang (or before it, if that makes any sense) to the end of time.
If I observe that it’s sunny outside, but I know that it’s winter and I see snow on the ground, I will likely conclude that it’s cold out and put on my coat before I walk out the door. If I see my son with chocolate on his lips and cookie crumbs on the counter, I might conclude that he probably snuck a cookie from the cookie jar.
There is a perception among some today that science is necessarily equated with progress because it is dedicated to advancing knowledge; but ethics is mostly about applying abstract ideals to questions whose answers should be clear to most people, and mostly just results leads to red tape and process-driven institutional review boards. If anything, for people who hold this view, the real purpose of “ethics” seems to be to impede science, progress and human flourishing.
I had believed that most people in positions of leadership, once they were well-informed scientifically, would work to make appropriate decisions for living rightly on Earth. If the science of life and the biosphere were understood, good decisions would be made. But I was wrong.
While issues such as slavery and racial difference have certainly been debated among Christians and their opponents, and even among themselves, nevertheless our basic humanity has always been a given. A given, that is, until now.