The problem lies less with the scientific findings themselves than with the shallow philosophy that recognizes no other truths, and with the arrogant pronouncements of the bioprophets. Here, for example is the eminent psychologist Steven Pinker railing against any appeal to the human soul:
Unfortunately for that theory, brain science has shown that the mind is what the brain does. The supposedly immaterial soul can be bisected with a knife, altered by chemicals, turned on or off by electricity, and extinguished by a sharp blow or a lack of oxygen. Centuries ago it was unwise to ground morality on the dogma that the earth sat at the center of the universe. It is just as unwise today to ground it on dogmas about souls endowed by God.
One hardly knows whether to be more impressed with the height of Pinker’s arrogance or with the depth of his shallowness. Pinker is ignorant of the fact that “soul” need not be conceived as a “ghost in the machine” or as a separate “thing” that survives the body, but can be understood (a la Aristotle) to be the integrated powers of the naturally organic body. He has not pondered the relationship between “the brain” and the whole organism, or puzzled over the difference between “the brain” of the living and “the brain” of the dead. He seems unaware of the significance of emergent properties, powers, and activities that do not reside in the materials of the organism but merge only when the materials are formed and organized in a particular way; he does not understand that this empowering organization of materials – the vital form – is not itself material. But Pinker speaks with the authority of science, and few are both able and willing to dispute him on his own ground.
There is, of course, nothing novel about reductionism and materialism of the kind displayed here; these are doctrines with which Socrates contended long ago. What is new is that , as philosophies, they seem (to many people) to be vindicated by scientific advance. Here, in consequence, is perhaps the most pernicious result of our technological progress, more dehumanizing than any actual manipulation or technique, present or future: the erosion, perhaps the final erosion, of the idea of man as noble, dignified, precious, or godlike, and its replacement with a view of man, like nature, as mere raw material for manipulation and homogenization.
Leon R. Kass – Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times p.243