Monday, May 12, 2014

Science On A Pedestal


If science were a man he would frown very heavily on the pedestal it is placed upon. - White Crane Feather
 
Now I don't know who "White Crane Feather" is. That is apparently a name used for posting comments on online forums. I saw that quote and it resonated with me.
 
Science, we are assured, is fluid and always open to revisions as more knowledge is made available. I believe that as well. I personally have no problem whatsoever with the scientific endeavor. However, I do think it's easy to blur the line between actually "doing" science and philosophizing about science. 
 
So science, we are assured, is superior to theology because it is open to revision. The truth is, theology seems to be open to revision as well (unless you are a religious fundamentalist), and when it does change to accommodate the times, that is supposedly a sign of weakness Go figure.
 
Therefore I'm quite suspicious when scientists write books which supposedly put the quietus on the God hypothesis using science as the basis. It seems to me they are taking pretty much the same position the theologians they criticize do.
 
A physicist like Victor Stenger can write a book with the title God the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist; biologist Richard Dawkins writes to assure us there is a condition called The God Delusion and that nature's "watchmaker" is The Blind Watchmaker; mathematician John Allen Paulos brings us Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why The Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up; cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett gets busy Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, to name several examples.
 
And yet other scientists in all those fields look at the same body of evidence and are unwilling to go as far. 
 

That to me is the difference between doing science and philosophizing about it, between using it as a tool and placing it upon a pedestal as the final arbiter of truth. 

12 comments:

  1. Doug,

    I was researching for my next installment and came across this article I think you might find interesting, if you haven't already read it:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-lanza/do-we-have-a-soul-a-scien_b_850804.html

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. No, I had not read that. I hardly read Huffington Post anymore because it takes so long to load. But this item was worth the wait. It's exactly the kind of expansive view of science I like to see. I agree when Lanza wrote "the world of objectivity and naïve realism -- is beginning to show fatal cracks." Scientific Orthodoxy steal rules with a firm hand, but I hope the tide may be beginning to turn and perhaps these more expansive ideas can be seriously entertained. Even though it is more philosophy of science than science at this point, I have to give primacy to consciousness in my understanding of reality. I think that least we should keep an open mind. Thanks again for sending that link along to me.

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    2. It is an interesting article, though I'd be interested in hearing how this scientist determined that when you die time just reboots and we go on. Is he suggesting reincarnation? Just that our particles go back in the universe and we're part of time/space? I wasn't too clear on how he came up with the theory other than his sense that this life isn't all there is. But it did sound right up your alley. I've read some of your writing on consciousness of mind.

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    3. I didn't follow the links in the article (maybe I will later), so I don't know what he was talking about with time reboots. Maybe it has to do with what some physicists think about time being an illusion (but, as Einstein suggested, "a persistent one").

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    4. Maybe, or something to do with the theory that some physicists have that the universe is a hologram? I don't know. The articles were interesting.

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  2. Miss your post Doug. Hope all is well with you and your family.

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    1. My dear, sweet Sylvia ... thank you so much for thinking about me. A lot has happened while I've been away. My job got much more complicated and time-consuming. But what is worse, my mom has been having some health issues that have kept me really busy with doctor visits with her and just plain old care-taking. First she suffered a nasty fall at her home (she hasn't fully recovered yet). And just this evening I got her home form a hospital stay for an unrelated-to-the-fall problem. How sweet it was to find your message in my email box! I have really, really missed my blog and my friends here. It's just been hard to find the time and the inclination to write. But I will be back and soon. In fact, I have been itching to jump back in after my forced hiatus - so please stay tuned. Again, thanks so much for your concern.

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  3. Hope everthing goes well for your mother and your workload is lightened. Looking forward to reading more post. Take care.

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  4. Take care of mom and yourself first. Blog second or third or fourth or . . . well you know what I mean.

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    1. My dear friend Zoe! I was afraid I would lose touch with you when you closed your blog. I know the inevitable in nearer than ever with Mom; but let me tell you - she is as fiercely determined as ever to maintain her independence. That is good, I know. But sometimes I have trouble knowing when to step in and when to step back. I'm just determined to make the most of time we have left. As for me, I have my good days and my not so good days, but really I shouldn't complain. I've had more than my share of good health and good fortune - more good times than bad times overall. And as they say: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I miss my blog and my friends here. I'm ready to come back, at least as time and circumstances allow.

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    2. I'm around but not much. More a lurker than anything. Enjoying my hiatus from blogging but wonder if I'll maintain my absence? I think of things to write but then think, 'Meh.' :-)

      It is a fine line with aging parents. All we can do I think is let them know we are here and when they are ready we'll oblige. And when we notice that they do need us but the still resist we can lovingly stand firm. "Mom I'm going with you." :-)

      After writing all that it's not far from my mind. I'm an aging parent too.

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