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In a book I read a few years ago by David Berlinski (more on that below), I discovered that Einstein and I share a belief that I never imagined we shared. After his lifelong friend Besso died (and as Einstein himself felt his own approaching death), Einstein wrote to Bessos family, ...for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.Berlinski goes on to clarify just how seriously Einstein embraced this belief, which flowed directly out of his General Relativity Theory. More precisely, within Einsteins theory *change* is the illusion. As Berlinski translates it, Things do not become, they have not been, and they will not be: They simply are. Buddha might have put it the same way.It was a belief that Einstein also shared with his Princeton colleague, the blindingly brilliant mathematician Kurt Godel. Some might know of Godel as the guy who proved conclusively that mathematics is and will always remain an incomplete system; there will always be axioms that are unprovable from *within* mathematics (ie. some axioms have to be taken on faith, not proof). Berlinski once quipped that this makes mathematics the only science that can prove it is a religion. I also learned that Godel once presented Einstein with a solution to the torturously difficult equations of General Relativity. His solution - one of many possible - posited that the universe is suspended in a void, turning as if on a pinwheel, with each and every individual standing in the middle with the universe rotating around him or her. The solution satisfies Einsteins equations perfectly, and is just as possible as any other solution.Berlinskis book points out over and over that the interpretations we take away from science are not in any way *given* by science, but by our sensibilities. He spends a full chapter on the multiple and multiplying assumptions that have been put into place to hold up the Big Bang theory. Many of those assumptions are quite ridiculous, but again, scientific sensibilities are no laughing matter. Godels solution that finds us in a pinwheel universe may be scientifically sound (even offered as a mathematical proof), but it abuses our sense of how we expect things to be, or just how we think they are. The Darwinian explanation of evolution, on the other hand, is magnificently *un*sound scientifically in its details (historical narratives are a dime a dozen, but that aint science), but it abuses scientific sensibilities to face the alternative. [This topic occupies the vast majority of Berlinskis book.] The distinguished Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin - a Darwinian evolutionist to his core - summed up this issue with blinding clarity. Apologies for the lengthy quote, which is taken from an article of his published in the NYT Review of Books:Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set ofconcepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.Materialist explanations are not what flows *out* of science, but what is demanded *of* science by those conducting it. It is a decision made prior to the investigation, a decision (both conscious and unconscious) to exclude certain explanations *in spite of* any explanatory power they might contain. Berlinskis book covers both the details and the broad sweep of evolutionary science to show the profoundly unscientific concepts widely embraced as a result of this materialist commitment.When I finished Berlinskis book, I admit to some anxiety that I may never again read a book as well written and as brilliantly argued. Many books are one or the other; very few are both. It is titled The Deniable Darwin, and consists of a series of essays Berlinski has written over the past 13 years. Berlinski is a rare bird. He is a mathematician (among other titles) who has spent much of his time critiquing scientific dogma, but he does so from within the belly of the beast, so to speak. The essays in this particular book focus on the dogma underlying Darwinian stories of evolution, which Berlinski attacks from every side. He has absolutely no interest at all in Christianity or creationism or any of the labels that are endlessly thrown at him to discredit his arguments. In fact, it is quite telling to see how he puts forth criticisms based on science, and he is very commonly responded to with accusations of religion. Hes a secular Jew who writes in this book, I have no creationist agenda whatsoever and, beyond respecting the injunction to have a good time all the time, no religious principles, either.Those unfamiliar with the serious weaknesses of Darwinian evolutionary ideas honestly believe, I think, that people critiquing it must have a religious agenda. Certainly the headlines would have us believe so. Those who are familiar with the weaknesses of Darwinian evolutionary theories but are committed to the theory nonetheless *use* the attack of religiousness to deflect attention from fundamental flaws. These flaws are answered - begrudgingly - with endless promissory notes that the Darwinian way around these flaws is just around the corner. Critics note that the Darwinian solution to these flaws isnt just improbable, but in many aspects scientifically impossible. But old habits die hard.Large numbers of conventional, materialist, atheist scientists working in the fields of evolutionary science and theory now recognize that the random mutation/natural selection explanation for evolutionary change is fundamentally flawed (see books such as What Darwin Got Wrong, The Altenberg 16: An Expos� of the Evolution Industry and Origination of Organismal Form: Beyond the Gene in Developmental and Evolutionary Biology for starters). A new synthesis is sought as natural selection is recognized as causally inadequate and even incapable of supporting a scientific theory (as the first book in that list meticulously argues). Noam Chomsky, no advocate of supernatural explanations about anything, personally endorses two of those three books and agrees that evolutionary theory is in need of an overhaul.So, which is more rational: side with Lewontin, preferring just-so mechanistic stories to explain all of life, even those that are patently absurd? If we do so, were admitting that were open to no other possibilities, an ironically anti-scientific stance to take. Are we open to the possibility of intelligent direction and purpose as fundamental properties of living systems? And perhaps most importantly, can we even grasp the idea of those properties without the baggage of theology they are so commonly intertwined with?Well-established laws of information prohibit the built-up of non-trivial functional information through random processes. Logic doesnt exclude the possibility of transcendent intelligence as a source for the information found within living systems. Only our ideological commitment to materialism in science prevents this question from even being explored.

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نوشته شده در : دوشنبه 28 فروردین 1396  توسط : Carol Valland.    نظرات() .

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