Human Exceptionalism Stifles Progress

Tania Lombrozo: Rather than reflecting a specific commitment to God, Adam Waytz and Liane Young suggest that aversion to playing God reflects “an aversion to human agency in a domain in which another agent is thought to be responsible.” For some people, that “agent” could be nature. In fact, one of their studies revealed a significant (though modest) relationship between aversion to playing God and belief in a “natural order.” Yet this still leaves us with the puzzle of what drives aversion to scientific and technological intervention or change, whether it impinges on God’s authority or on some natural order: Why not celebrate human agency, and rejoice in greater control over the natural world? Answering this question takes us well beyond the data, but two hypotheses are worth a look.

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