After talking with a rabbi friend of mine earlier today about the relationship between religion and science, I read this quote from Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg: "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless."
Certainly not all scientists are this nihilistic, nor does the fact that science cannot answer questions about morality and meaning (the lack of which is, I assume, why the universe seems pointless) prove there is no morality or meaning. It just “proves” that if you are looking for morality and meaning don’t use the tools of science, at least not the sciences Steven Weinberg uses to comprehend the universe.
My rabbi friend wants to make religion the antidote of pointlessness, but that may not help since religion yields a variety of moral and meaning systems without any way to objectively judge which is actually true.
Maybe the problem lies with Weinberg’s assumption. Let’s assume that life prior to the evolution of humans is intrinsically amoral and meaningless. Let’s further assume that humans are the way nature makes morality and meaning, and that religion and philosophy are the ways we do this. Since humans are part of nature, and since humans produce a variety of moralities and meanings it is wrong to say that nature is amoral or meaningless, and more accurate to say that nature is multi-moral and multi-meaning.
This, of course, leads us to relativism where no morality is better than any other, and no meaning is any more true than any other. And that can lead us back to nihilism. So maybe the only way we can assume a universal morality and meaning is to assume a force outside of nature that imposes such. Which leaves us pretty much were we are today: competing morality/meaning systems each claiming to be the one true standard of the one true God.