Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fang Zhouzi: Morality in my Heart, Science in my Mind

The following is a translation of an essay by Fang Zhouzi. The essay was originally composed about two years ago. In light of the recent attack, Fang Zhouzi decided to revise and publish it in the September 1's issue of China Youth Daily. You can read the original Chinese version here.

Morality in my Heart, Science in my Mind

Fang Zhouzi

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant ended his Critique of Practical Reason with a famous quote that was later carved into his tombstone: "Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."

But the ability of an individual mind is extremely limited, even the intellectual giants are no exception. At the time of Kant, such inquiry often produced even bigger confusion and eventually led to the belief in some kind of mysterious, supernatural force which could be used to conclude the thinking once and for all. Because he could not resolve the issue of "First Cause" in planetary motion, Issac Newton reserved a spot for God there. Although Kant did not allow God to move the planets, he nevertheless believed that the existence of moral laws proved the existence of God, regarding God as the personification of all things kind.

Of course all such arguments have now run their course. Modern science has been discovering nature's secrets, in which there is no place for God. Science is still unable to answer many questions. And because of the limitation in human cognitive ability, it is impossible to answer all questions. But science is indeed the most reliable method of inquiry that is known to man. If science cannot provide an answer, there is no reason to believe that a reliable answer could be obtained through any other means. Leaving unknown or unsolvable issues to God and immortal is nothing but laziness. Yet morality and justice has always been present in the history written with blood. It is the crystallization of the long struggle by numerous lofty and courageous people. It originates from the necessity of human survival, happiness, and progress, and therefore no need for the assumption of God. If there were indeed an almighty God, the world would not see so much evil. But it is also because the presence of so much evil, morality and justice is so valuable.

Under the starry heavens, the human body is miniscule; yet science enables us to reach every corner of the universe. In the course of history, the human life is short; yet morality and justice can allow our spirit melting into the historical process and achieve longevity. As long as there is morality in our hearts and science in our minds, we will not lose our ways or waste our time within our short lifespan. Morality is the starlight shining from the edge of the heaven, science is the flashlight that leads our way. Morality and justice gives us ideals and passion; science bestows us with rationality and the appreciation in the importance of evidence. "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." This quote of Albert Einstein has been misinterpreted by numerous people who are not aware of its context, mistaking it as Einstein's support for traditional religion. But the "religion" referred to by Einstein here is not of its common meaning, but a passion and determination in pursuing truth. We could revise this famous quote to become: Science without morality is lame. Morality without science is blind. If there is neither science nor morality, we would all become the living dead.

It is from such a belief that I have remained deeply interested in both science and humanity since my middle school years. This is evident from the pen name I have been using. In ancient times, two boats sailing in parallel is called a "FangZhou", and "FangZhouzi" is a person who stands astride on two boats at the same time. "It's such a joy to sail two boats like one." My dream is therefore to sail the dual boats of science and humanity simultaneously and taste the happiness of all the intellectual and lofty people ancient and today, home and abroad. When I was working in scientific research, I spent all my spare time studying and writing about literature and history. After I left my scientific research career, my writings then mainly concentrated on science. In the last decade or so, I became famous by exposing scientific fraud and corruption, so much so that many people mistakenly thought I couldn't or shouldn't do anything other than writing to debunk fraud. Actually, the socalled debunking is only an impulse of mine from witnessing injustice. It is not my main interest. Yet to me, such injustice is a betrayal of science and morality. When necessary, I am willing to defend my belief, even if I must pay the price of blood. But in other ordinary times, I would much rather pass on my belief, hope to propagate science and morality deeper and longer.

Nobody could become the personification of science and morality. But every person can become the defender and propagator of science and morality, as long as you are willing and possess ability and courage.

My dear readers, in these dark days, let us look up to the starlight of morality, ignite the lights of science, hold our hands and march on together, and persevere.

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