Science, Values, and Power: Toward a Christian-Critical Perspective on Responsible Science

  • Darrin W. Snyder Belousek Ohio Northern University and Bluffton University


This essay critically examines a questionable presupposition of contemporary science—that science is an instrumental means to human ends and as such is a value-neutral project. According to this presupposition, the responsibility for the ethical evaluation of science concerns only the uses to which science is put by society and thus does not belong properly to the scientific profession. This view, which C. P. Snow called “the myth of ethical neutrality,” is critiqued along ethical, philosophical, and theological axes of analysis. Once we recognize that science is essentially a form of power, it becomes clear that science is morally ambiguous because the power over nature that science enables contains the potential for domination over humanity. From the Christian perspective, which holds that all worldly power is “fallen,” it is evident that science also is in need of being “ransomed” from evil uses and reoriented toward the priorities of God’s Kingdom. Accordingly, to be responsible science must be accountable to transcendent values and must be in dialogue with other disciplines, including ethics, philosophy, and theology.