Every year since 1954, the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) has held a conference on religion and science during a midsummer week on the Isles of Shoals, some ten miles out from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, into the Gulf of Maine. Rather consistently its governing Council has focused the conferences upon major avenues to understanding how scientific revelations can help illuminate human values and perhaps assist in the ever necessary functions of religion. This has been in accord with its constitution, which states that IRAS is established to promote creative efforts leading to the formulation, in the light of contemporary knowledge, of effective doctrines and practices for human welfare; to formulate dynamic and positive relationships between the concepts developed by science and the goals and hopes of man expressed through religion; to state human values in such universal and valid terms that they may be understood by all men whatever their cultural background and experience, in such a way as to provide a basis for world-wide cooperation.
I would like to discuss the challenges to our value systems which are brought about by modern science and technology. In lower animals value systems are automatically structured-in, genetically determined, evolution-derived behavioral instincts which are geared to species survival. Man has developed further than this, and besides behavioral instincts his values are also socially and culturally derived through a heritage transmitted from one generation to another across the ages of his history. Social evolution is just as much geared to survival as is biological evolution, so that man's entire value systems are geared to the survival of man as an animal. Furthermore, all value systems must necessarily be evaluated in terms of their contributions to human survival in the working of the biological as well as the social evolution.
This is not the place to discuss the workings of either biological or social evolution. The details are well known. But I would like to emphasize that the remarkable progress in science and technology in giving us control of man's evolution has presented us with almost overwhelming problems, and we need to develop techniques for handling them. …
Sanborn C. Brown is professor of physics and associate dean of the Graduate School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Science, Theology, and Human Values by Donald Szantho Harrington
Values are central to man's existence, happiness, and survival. They are the purveyors and guarantors of life's meaning. They assure men that life has meaning, define what that meaning is, and thus help men to make the choices which contribute to the increase of meaning in their own lives, the lives of their fellowmen, and the universe itself. …
Donald Szantho Harrington is minister of the Community Church, New York.
Indoctrination versus Relativity in Value Education by Lawrence Kohlberg
The first point I want to make is that the problem raised by my title, "Indoctrination versus Relativity in Value Education," requires coming to grips with morality and moral education. I hope I will be able to make moral education a somewhat less forbidding term by presenting my own approach to it. My basic task, however, is not to convince you of my approach to moral education but to convince you that the only way to solve the problems of relativity and indoctrination in value education is to formulate a notion of moral development which is justified philosophically and psychologically.
While moral education has a forbidding sound to all who are teachers, for example, they constantly practice it. They tell children what to do, make evaluations of children's behavior, and direct children's relations in the classrooms. Sometimes teachers do these things without being aware that they are engaging in moral education; but the children are aware of it. As an example, my second-grade son told me that he did not want to be one of the bad boys. Asked "Who were the bad boys?" he replied, "The ones who don't put their books back where they belong and get yelled at." His teacher would have been surprised to know that her concerns with classroom management defined for her children what she and her school thought were basic moral values, or that she was engaged in value indoctrination. …
Lawrence Kohlberg is professor of education and social psychology at Harvard University.
The Churches and the Future: A Utopian Proposal by Kenneth Cauthen
There is a growing consensus among futurist writers that the human race is moving through a unique period of transition toward a radically new epoch in human history. It is a time of immense peril and immense promise, and the years between now and the year 2000 are crucial to the determination of the outcome. Put briefly, the thesis is this. A planetary society is emerging. A worldwide network of interacting, interdependent human thought and activity covering the spherical skin of the earth is developing, held together by global processes of communication, travel, commerce, and cultural exchange. This is happening under conditions in which the human race is approaching the biological limits of the earth. These limits must be seen both in terms of the capacity of the planet to support the rapidly increasing numbers of people with food and other necessities and in terms of its ability to absorb the polluting poisons we cast off into the land, the sea, and the air. At the same time, the knowledge and know-how explosion is putting unprecedented powers in man's hands, either to bless the earth or to curse it, to feed, clothe, and house all people and open up new vistas of enjoyment and creative adventure or to destroy the human race with doomsday weapons. In the light of all this I believe that it is true to say that we live in a situation radically different in these respects from what any previous generation has known. …
Kenneth Cauthen is professor of Christian theology at Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer.