Monday, December 16, 2013

Materialism in science: Banging our heads against a wall until finally the wall complains - Denyse O'Leary

Last time here, I looked at what materialism has done for science.

What it has done is focus time, energy, and money on nonsense.

We haven’t been to the moon in forty years (back in the days when the astronauts read from Genesis while floating in space). But I have amassed quite a collection of theories from the popular science media about where ET might be hiding:
Moonless planets have been unfairly dismissed and sunless ones could maybe ferry life around the galaxy. Some argue that hardy Earth life forms could have made it to one of Jupiter's moons and survived there. Jupiter's moon Europa looks promising to many. NASA has talked of a "flying-saucer-shaped space boat" to Saturn's moon Titan, some day. And the excitable word about another Saturn moon is, "Enceladus Now Looks Wet, So It May Be ALIVE!"
Exoplanets orbiting red dwarfs at a distance, it is said, may counterintuitively support life. So might exoplanets' moons. Every month, we hear of a planet or moon capable of supporting hype. More.
It gets crazier. Did you know, not only is earth one nice planet among many, but our entire universe is lost in a crowd?:
A large number of hitherto unnoticed universes? No sooner asked than granted: Nima Arkani-Hamed and others have proposed over 10^500 universes because fewer of them would not obviate fine-tuning. Why believe in them?
As a New Scientist writer has explained
But the main reason for believing in an ensemble of universes is that it could explain why the laws governing our Universe appear to be so finely turned for our existence ... This fine-tuning has two possible explanations. Either the Universe was designed specifically for us by a creator or there is a multitude of universes -- a multiverse.
Cosmologists deserve credit for making the choice so clear. In that spirit, Discover Magazine offers the multiverse as "Science's Alternative to an Intelligent Creator" (2008). And New Scientist's editors promise, in addition, a "multiverse-fuelled knowledge revolution". As David Berlinski puts it, "The Big Fix has by this maneuver been supplanted by the Sure Thing." More.
And… it gets better… in this multiverse, everything turns out to be true, except philosophy and religion!
Hailed as the "world's smartest man," with cameos to his credit on The Simpsons and Star Trek, Stephen Hawking has blessed the multiverse for popular culture. Denouncing philosophy (and religion) as "outdated and irrelevant", he announced that science dispenses with a designer behind nature because the law of gravity explains how the universe "can and will create itself from nothing."
Sometimes his pronouncements are less clear, though their outlines are discernible. Ian Sample, science writer for Britain's Guardian, asked Hawking in 2011, "What is the value in knowing 'Why are we here?'" Hawking replied:
The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can't solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those Societies most likely to survive. We assign them a higher value.
Sample had no idea what Hawking meant. But we can discern this much: Philosophy and religion may not matter, but Darwin does. More.
So philosophy and religion are outdated and irrelevant, and science makes no sense?

Well, materialism has sure made a difference, all right. Not a difference it was wise for our culture to support, promote, and fund.

The series to date:

What has materialism done for science?

Big Bang exterminator wanted, will train

Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

“Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies ... that is, if you would only believe ...

Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

But surely we can’t conjure an entire advanced civilization?

How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?

Not only is earth one nice planet among many, but our entire universe is lost in a crowd

The multiverse: Where everything turns out to be true, except philosophy and religion

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

It seems to me that you're presenting salient challenges to various assumptions made by those members of the science / cosmology community you discuss.
Thank you Denyse.

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