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Steven Weinberg says that there was a scientific revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. To his credit, he provides enough information to support a contrary theory. I subscribe to the theory that modern science began in the thirteenth century when the Catholic Church condemned the Aristotelian idea that vacuums are impossible. Prior to this, scientific achievements in ancient and non-Western civilizations were sporadic and inconsistent. The following quote supports this theory:
After the era of translation and conflict over Aristotle’s reception, creative scientific work finally began in Europe in the fourteenth century. (2079)
What happened in the 14th century West is that scientific knowledge advanced steadily with one scientist building on the achievements of other scientists. The author gives a clue as to why this happened:
Robert Merton assumed that Protestantism created social attitudes favorable to science and promoted a combination of rationalism and empiricism and a belief in an intelligible order in nature—attitudes and beliefs that he found in the actual behavior of Protestant scientists. (3977)
Science developed in the West, and not in other civilizations, because scientists believed that God created the universe from nothing. This means that the universe has an “intelligible order in nature”, which inspires people to try to understand the universe. The idea that vacuums are impossible implies that God did not create the universe because God has infinite power and could have created a vacuum. Weinberg discusses the Condemnation of 1277, as it is called, but thinks it hindered the development of scientific knowledge.
In my opinion, Steven Weinberg is suffering from cognitive dissonance because his atheism conflicts with the reality that many people believe in God. The following quote shows that he is obsessed with religion because he feels the need to express his lack of belief in God in a book about science and history:
It is not that the modern scientist makes a decision from the outset that there are no supernatural persons. This happens to be my opinion, but there are good scientists who are seriously religious. (789)
The following quote shows that Weinberg’s mental and emotional suffering prevents him from being rational:
Or we can encounter phenomena that in principle cannot be brought into a unified framework for all science. For example, although we may come to understand the processes in the brain responsible for consciousness, it is hard to see how we would ever describe the conscious feelings themselves in physical terms. (4199)
There is an equally irrational quote from Carl Sagan as recalled by Sean Carroll in a television interview on the PBS Newshour. Dr. Carroll posted the video on his blog on March 14, 2014, with the caption “A Great Time for Reason and Science.” This is the quote:
We are a collection of atoms and particles like the rest of the universe, but we have the power to theorize, collect data, and understand this universe.
The phrase “brain responsible for consciousness” is a reference to the conscious knowledge of humans as opposed to the sensory knowledge of animals. Science is a method of inquiry that arises from sensory observations. For example: Why is the sky blue? Knowing that the sky is blue means more than how much light is entering your eye and a signal is going to your brain. It means awareness of it. People ask the question: What is this consciousness? This is not a scientific question because it does not arise from our senses. The question arises because we can make ourselves the subject of our knowledge. It is a metaphysical question.
Humans have been very successful in answering scientific questions, as this book explains. It can rightly be said that there are no mysteries in science, only questions that have not yet been answered. There is very little success in answering metaphysical questions and the word mystery is necessary. In terms of consciousness, this word can be avoided by saying, “The sky is manifesting its blueness, and people are open to that manifestation.” There is no evidence that human consciousness is a brain process. Certainly, there is evidence that animal sense recognition is a brain process.
On the subject of consciousness, Steven Weinberg, Sean Carroll and Carl Sagan have a blind spot. However, the following quote reveals that Weinberg did not go to a Catholic college:
For Descartes the only certain fact is that he exists, deduced from the observation that he is thinking about him… He (Rene Descartes) gives several arguments (all unconvincing) for the existence of God, but rejects the authority of religion organized. (3162)
He was wrong in saying that the pineal gland is the seat of a spirit responsible for human consciousness. (3181)
Descartes did not “deduce” that it existed. His quote, “I think, therefore I am,” expressed a common metaphysical experience we all have. We know we exist, not because we can see ourselves, but because we can become ourselves and catch ourselves in the act of our existence.
Descartes was trying to explain free will by saying that there is a spiritual “little man” behind the eyes that controls the body like a carriage driver controls a team of horses. This nonsense is called dualism and contradicts the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas who said that unity is a transcendental property of being. A carriage driver and a team of horses is not one being, it is many beings.
Descartes’ arguments for the existence of God were probably based on Aquinas’ famous “five ways” and Aristotle’s “prime mover” argument. The best argument for the existence of God is called the cosmological argument only for historical reasons. It is based on the metaphysics of Aquinas and the observation that we have free will. Free will means that we possess a center of action that makes us united in relation to ourselves but different from other people. In other words, humans are finite beings. A limited being cannot be the reason for its existence, because it cannot limit itself. The assumption or hope that the universe is intelligible means that an infinite being exists and has caused the universe of finite beings. In Western religions, we call the infinite being God.
Body and soul are the metaphysical principles of matter and form that apply to humans. All men are equal because we are all members of the same class or category of beings. The soul is the metaphysical principle or incomplete being that makes us human, and the body is what makes us different from one another.
We can understand what a human being is because we know everything we do and everything that happens to us. However, we cannot define or explain what a man is. We can only say that humans are embodied souls. Another way of expressing this is to say that the human soul is spiritual. To summarize, physics professors Weinberg, Carroll and Sagan do not know what they are talking about.
Astronomical discoveries in the 1960s and later proved that the universe began to exist 14 billion years ago. This raises the scientific question: What caused the Big Bang? There is no scientific answer to this question and many people think that this “gap” is proof of the existence of God. My understanding is that the Big Bang is proof that God does not exist because it is proof that the universe is incomprehensible. The Big Bang, however, is a reason to believe in the Bible, because the Bible says in a number of places that God created the universe out of nothing.
There are four more gaps like this: What caused prokaryotes to appear on Earth 3.6 billion years ago? What caused mammals to evolve from prokaryotes? What caused the fine-tuning of physical constants to enable biological life? What caused the second law of thermodynamics to be suspended when life began and evolved into mammals?
One might call these five arguments for the existence of God pseudoscience. Atheists respond to this pseudoscience with pseudoscience that is more wrong. Atheists are trying to fight fire with fire, or anxiety is preventing them from thinking rationally and behaving honestly. This is the pseudoscientific response to the five arguments of the God of the Gaps:
The Big Bang was caused by a vacuum fluctuation.
Life on Earth came from another galaxy.
Evolution was caused by natural selection.
There are many other universes where the constants are different.
The second law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems.
Weinberg promotes #3 and #4 in his book. For evolution, I recommend that he read these scientific works by leading scientists:
- The Evolution Revolution: Evolution is real. Darwin is wrong. This Changes Everything
- Evolution: A 21st Century View
- The plausibility of life: Resolving Darwin’s dilemma
Weinberg’s discussion of the multiversity theory made it clear to me why the theory is irrational, and this is one of the reasons I recommend the book. If the Earth were a little closer to the Sun or a little further away, life would not have evolved. Question: Why is the distance between the Earth and the Sun 93 million miles? Answer: Random processes. If one does not understand the term “random processes”, you might point out that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars each, and many planets are not 93 million miles from their star. The question related to the theory of multiversity is this: Why do physical constants have the value they do? There is no answer to this question. So people like Weinberg come up with the idea that there are a large number of other universes where the constants are different.
Weinberg and Carroll are guilty by association for promoting #5 because they are American physicists. The American Journal of Physics published an article entitled “Entropy and Evolution” (Am. J. Phys., Vol. 76, No. 11, November 2008) saying that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and gives the results of an absurd calculation. The article puts every physicist in the United States to shame.
There is another example of pseudoscience in his book that does not reflect badly on Weinberg’s character because it is found in physics textbooks on quantum mechanics. In fact, I may be guilty of pseudoscience.
Instead of calculating the trajectories of a planet or a particle, one calculates the evolution of probability waves whose intensity at any position and time tells us the probability of finding the planet or particle here and there. (3896)
Weinberg refers to the statistical Born interpretation of the Shrödinger function. There is a lot of evidence that the Shrödinger function is a wave, but there is no evidence that it is a probability wave. I make my arguments in an EzineArticles.com article titled “The Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics.”
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