I guess science does sometimes suggest moral imperatives. Eugenics was touted as the logical, ethical conclusion to draw from an evolutionist philosophy:
In 1907, Indiana adopted the first eugenical sterilization law in the world, paving the way for similar laws in more than thirty other states and nearly a dozen countries around the world. The pioneering statute was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921 . . . , but a new law was enacted in 1927 following U.S. Supreme Court endorsement of eugenic sterilization in Buck v. Bell in which Justice Holmes declared, “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
From 1907 to 1974 Indiana sterilized 2,500 institutionalized patients. Attention was focused on sterilization again in 1978 when, in Stump v. Sparkman, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld judicial immunity for an Indiana judge whose ex parte order led to the sterilization of a 15-year-old girl. (Indiana Eugenics: History and Legacy)
“A century ago supporters viewed surgical sterilization as part of a broader eugenics program, including immigration and marriage restriction, whose goal was to better the human race by preventing reproduction of those with ‘inferior’ hereditary traits, such as criminality and the other conditions described in the legislation. They claimed their policy was based on the best science of the day, and through the 1930s there was only ineffective opposition from the scientific and medical community. . .” (Symposium, Exhibit Recognize 100 Year Anniversary of Indiana Eugenics Legislation)
Similarly, lobotomy was considered a great scientific advance for behavior control:
Lobotomy took America and some other countries by storm. They were performed in a wide scale in the 40s, because the mental asylums were brimming over with cases after the Second World War. Between 1939 and 1951, more than 18,000 lobotomies were performed in the United States, and tens of thousands more in other countries. It was widely abused as a method to control undesirable behavior, instead of being a last-resort therapeutic procedure for desperate cases. In Japan, the majority of the operated cases were children, many of whom had only problematic behavior or a bad performance at the school. Inmates in prisons for the insane were widely operated. Families trying to get rid of difficult relatives would submit them to lobotomy. Rebels and political opponents were treated as mentally deranged by authorities and operated. Amateur surgeons would often perform hundreds of lobotomies without even doing a systematic psychiatric evaluation.
In 1949, Dr. Antônio Egas Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology, in recognition of his creation of the prefrontal leucotomy, This had the effect of making lobotomy a respectable procedure, and as a result, in the ensuing three years, more lobotomies were performed than in all previous years. (The History of Lobotomy)
Contemporary proponents of reliance on scientific truth would say that the scientific community eventually rejected these ideas. The problem is that while they were popular, they were seen as eminently rational and morally necessary. Moreover, the method used to sell them to the public was the rhetoric of science and modernism. The history of ideas should teach us to distrust anyone who claims that their opinion is superior because it is rational and necessary. Rationalism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, and necessity is the father of tyranny.
Here, again, I distinguish the ideology of rationalism from the capacity for rational thought. Furthermore, in order to be considered rational, a train of thought need only be internally consistent, and its logic may yet be judged inadequate when compared to an external model. Also, the rationality of any particular train of thought is distinct from the validity of its premises or the practical value of its conclusions.
Domination and Technology
It is the nature of humanity, indeed of life itself, to subdue something or die. We constantly strive to subdue nature, animals, other people, ourselves, our thoughts, our systems of ideas, and even our own means of domination. Technology, or more properly technique, is the method of this subjugation.
Science is a recent refinement of the method, applied in a reductionistic manner to more precisely control and predict natural processes, while also gathering and analyzing greater amounts of data, so as to create more extensive generalizations. Regardless of the attempts to provide ancient pedigrees for science, history demonstrates the insignificance of ancient scientific observations that lacked reliable written records or cultural acceptance and continuity.
Moreover, the claims for broad moral, ethical, social, and spiritual implications of scientific conclusions date back only a few hundred years; without these conclusions, we would not have any modern ideology of science at all. The retrenchment of scientific rationalists to a position that science has no moral implications is recent, and reflects self-consciousness at the profound philosophical weakness of their opinions.
Religion and magic are older technologies, based on an older paradigm of correlation between the world of the seen and the unseen. Whereas atheists love to mindlessly repeat Clarke’s Third Law, I prefer Niven’s Law: “any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.” People in the past were not inherently stupid, as the modernist ideology claims. I do not mean to suggest that religion and magic were ever highly effective at manipulation of natural or spiritual processes, but rather that they were always merely technologies.
The track record of magic in antiquity is no worse than that of many now-discredited 20th-century drugs and surgical techniques; whereas the overprescription of Valium, Prozac, and Ritalin for nonpsychiatric disorders and nonexistent disorders indicates that medical doctors fervently wish for the status previously held by shamans.
The other aspect of religion is its systematization of society, behavior, and thought. These would more accurately be described as applications of technique. The record is variable as to its success; however, it is not relevant to the question of having a nonpolitical personal relationship with God.