Science is opening a lot of doors, but it is also closing a lot of them, too.
Physical law is abstracted from our observations of nature. To say, as most physicists do, that physical law itself causes natural phenomena to occur is nonsense -- not to mention the fact that all of our best theories are by admission incomplete and therefore essentially false (except as purely technological approximations).
Science may be beautiful, but it isn't truth -- it is a set of mathematical metaphors which provisionally approximate a reality whose subtleties and true nature we can scarcely guess at. Science is basically no more or less than a technology of a civilization.
Why do the materialists not see intelligence and order in an atom? An atom is not a random entity!
Just imagine that every particle in every world in every universe in every multiverse were itself its own infinite multiverse. I think that's about the size of it.
We analyze things into their separate parts to explore and discuss them and then forget to put them back together again.
Some people have problems with science, as if that makes any sense. The problem is not with science itself, but with the incorrect tacit axioms held by the majority of scientists and the philosophers and lay people they influence.
I think in time we will find that reductionism doesn't make any sense. The particles we reduce to are themselves abstracted from the unified background. To say that these abstracted entities called atoms are themselves the fundamental causal agents of reality is circular, and will be seen to be an illusion.
The crucial error in the scientific world seems to be the assumption that current knowledge paints the picture of all that will ever be known, and future progress is merely a question of refining the details of the existing painting. It occurs to me that in fact the truth is far richer than all that, and that in fifty years' time what can only be called "mystical" or "spiritual" now will have an established scientific and eventually quite humdrum treatment. Every age, it seems, has believed itself to understand more than it actually did, and ours is no exception.
Once again, science has, as Aleister Crowley observed, come around to telling us what everybody already knew. Neuroscientists have just discovered that the brain processes far more information than is delivered up for conscious perception. That something of which the brain is subconsciously cognizant may not be made aware to the organism. That, in reality, there are many thousands if not millions of processes of active information processing of which an individual simply has no idea. The psychonaut of the sixties could have told you all that. So could the Buddhist monk of the fourteenth century. Great.
I find it ironic and peculiar that scientists have become so truly dogmatic in their thinking and beliefs. I don't mean to speculate about whether they are right or wrong; I merely wish to point out that they are, not so refutably, as dogmatic as anybody. They would do well to acknowledge how much they don't know, and given that most of them do not do that, I would say they are not demonstrably a whole lot better than those whom they attack so ferociously.
Like David Bohm said: Reality is ultimately a whole; if there is fragmentation, we put it there.
More and more scientists are coming to the realization that not only can biology, biochemistry and neuroscience not exclude quantum phenomena, but such phenomena are instrumental in most biological processes, and certainly in the most fundamental ones -- e.g. enzyme activity, photosynthesis, heredity, and others. This movement could have significant underpinnings for the understanding of consciousness and its connection to the body.
Instrumentalism is a blight on modern science.
Some people feel that science doesn't deal with meaning -- that it is a cold, neutral instrument. But I disagree. Everything is imbued with at least some meaning. To look for meaning in science, we would have to look at its assumptions. And there are very many of them, explicit and implicit. Science cannot escape the subjectivity of what it is to be a human enterprise.
If one were truly a machine, there would be no way to discern one's robotic nature.
Is the present our intersection with the leading edge of expanding time?
If the proton nucleus of a hydrogen atom were the size of a golf ball, the "orbiting" electron would be almost a mile away. Why do we not observe the world as empty space? Because of the nature of interaction. The web of relationships in which we are involved determines our perceived reality. The Sanskrit word maya, found in Hinduism and Buddhism, seems to refer to this basic "emptiness." The word has multiple meanings in practice, but the most common definitions are as "illusion" or "magic." It is interesting that in the twentieth century, we in the West discovered through physics a basic truth that had been recognized in parts of Asia for thousands of years.
The scientific-scientistic mindset has become every bit as much of a dogma in the modern age as any institution or ideology ever was. The stubborn materialist will not hear of anything that does not fit into his narrow picture, and will dismiss it entirely without even really thinking about it. Nothing could be less scientific, and yet certain circles of society are being taken over by this kind of thinking. This type of dogma is becoming established and entrenched rather than reinventing itself constantly -- which would be the truly scientific-minded thing to do.
What is it about staunchly science-minded people that causes them to regard gross physical/material reality as the only possible frame of existence?
Rationalist-materialist-atheists favor only allowing into discourse one small, narrow focus and will vehemently object to even considering anything outside of that narrow range. The irony is that scientific thinking is supposed to favor open-mindedness above all else, but we see with the examples of Galileo, Newton, Maxwell and Einstein -- to name the well-known ones -- that in practice open-mindedness in scientific circles is rather the exception.
In a sense, almost nothing has happened in physics in the last hundred years. There is really nothing new under the sun since Einstein, Schrodinger, Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, Fermi, Dirac, et al. What we actually have are refinements and reformulations of the original quantum mechanics and the original relativity. Even Feynman's approach was a mathematical and conceptual reformulation and not a new theory. There in truth has not been a new theory in all this time. Things will only get really interesting when one has finally been developed (by transcending the old theories and making them limits in the special case), by whatever means. A paradigm shift, as it were.
Brain signals seem to be electrobiochemical. Electric goo. Chemicals moderating electrical pulses in colloidal suspension.
Science is wonderful as it gets to the bottom of things in a systematic and reliable way, but I have to stress that its domain is finite and narrow, and it isn't everything. The ratio of what we don't know to what we know is staggeringly enormous. I can guarantee that there will be established tenets of science fifty years from now that many rationalist-materialists would denounce today as totally impossible. History has borne out this notion repeatedly over the course of time; it is not really a prognostication. What is mystical and magical today will be objective and commonplace tomorrow.
Science is great at what it does, but, let's be honest, it doesn't do much in the way of truly explaining the world as we know it, or as some report it. You can say that everything is made of quarks, but does that really tell you anything about the beauty of a sunset, what makes for a good novel, or the voluminous amount of phenomena we have yet to understand and explain? Nature is more than the sum of elementary particles. This atheistic materialism is a mistake, and grossly misses the point.
The conventionally smartest people can, and usually do, have a very poor depth of soul and consequently be blind to the knowledge that really matters, and to meaningful truths in general. A supreme intellect isn't everything, and without appreciable awareness can't be much. The physics community, comprised of some of the smartest people in the world, and which predominantly functions simply by claiming that quantum mechanics works so we need not even think about its ramifications -- or whether it is just plain wrong -- comes foremost to mind.
As Aleister Crowley so prophetically noted, science is in the business of getting around to telling us what everybody already knew.
It may seem to many that humanity is really, finally starting to get somewhere with modern science. We're not.
Modern western culture still operates in an Aristotelian-Newtonian-Cartesian materialist framework. Modern thinking has not caught up with early twentieth-century findings in physics. Quantum mechanics and relativity expressly and unambiguously rule out this old perspective as the primary reality, but none of the institutions or ideologies or dominant memes of the modern world have kept pace with this -- including the institution of scientific education and inquiry itself. It is rather strange and quite awful.
We're even still, in physics and as a culture, operating on the Cartesian billiard-ball principles. They are wrong, and we even know they are wrong. It's time to move past this.
Materialism is a philosophy and a worldview based upon an il-lusion. It is therefore and by definition a de-lusion.
Science is very wonderful, but it is important to understand that it does not tell one all one needs to know.
The materialist-atheist Cartesian dualist perspective was a necessary step in the development of technology. Without that framework, we'd still be in the 1600s technologically. However, there is significant evidence coming in that it is obsolete, and insufficient to properly approach the problem of consciousness. Scientifically, consciousness is still essentially untreated, but there is evidence from less scientific but no less credible sources (for those who have replicated their findings privately) that the Cartesian approach is woefully deficient, and that consciousness plays a more fundamental role than we think. Even some scientists themselves, in their interpretations of quantum theory, have suggested that this is the case, despite a lot of inertia and habit from the institutional materialists. Momentum is slowly shifting, and it is really this shift itself that will illustrate the utilitarian and provisional nature of Cartesian dualism and the materialist, determinist worldview.
Science does, in the end, give us an objective system. One we can agree is correct. We may, some of us, regard as real certain phenomena that are not currently under its purview. It may be best to let science catch up.
Our knowledge of physics is quite nice, but, in all honesty and candor, it is not all that far beyond the starting point. Farther than most other areas of human knowledge, I guess.
There is such a thing as fanatical atheism, and really it is no better than that which it attacks. Such a person can be no less vociferous, insistent, intolerant of opposing views, and absolutely certain of his purported veracity than any religious fanatic. The fanatical atheist is not a follower of any religion, but, whether he realizes it or not, is frequently quite dogmatic. Additionally, the fanatical atheist is probably just as closed-minded as the religious fanatic who lives at the other end of the spectrum. Sadly, he's quite certain that he's right, and that he is quite a bit smarter than you. Be gentle.
It has become fashionable in intellectual and scholarly circles to declare that the cosmos is nothing more than a great big machine. This woefully undervalues the complexity and subtlety of nature, and indeed virtually denies the very consciousness of which we are all constituted.
Institutional science's attendant set of philosophical axioms is, it is hard to deny, quite destructive in many ways and on multiple levels, not the least of which is what has become of the psyche of the Western world. On the other hand, science does uncover certain truths.
Science made corporate-consumer culture possible, but did not in fact directly cause it. That doesn't absolve its institutions and adherents of their track record in practice.
Science is about procedures, not values. Scientists are about values.
Aristotle's physics -- wherein we have as the elements: earth, air, water, fire; skyward, the celestial sphere and "quintessence"; heat/cold, moisture/dryness; and gravity and "levity," by which things float upward. A system of logical rules was laid out through which causes could be determined for natural events, and this system corresponded to our general understanding and even our worldview for as long as Aristotle's ideas held sway (which was quite awhile). Most of us look back on such ideas today as quaint and horribly wrong in the light of superior truths. Whereas I see our present situation as essentially identical. Assume humanity is around in a hundred years. The physics of that day would be much farther beyond ours of today than ours is even beyond Aristotle's. The correspondence is really pretty exact. We live in ignorance. We only think we don't. Citizens of the future will look back on us with greater contempt than we do on Aristotle, and deservedly. We know very little.
It just so happens that the smartest of our species are just smart enough to do math and physics. Funny how things work out.
Reason is undoubtedly a good thing. A healthy brain ought to be a rational one. However, certain people who call themselves 'rational' or 'skeptical' are essentially of the opinion that something they have never personally encountered -- at least on some level -- can't happen. A little arrogant, no? And irrational. There has to be a balance between reason, on the one hand, and flexibility and open-mindedness on the other. Some of the most classically 'rational' souls I know are some of the most stubborn and closed-minded people I can remember meeting. That doesn't mean, however, that we should 'throw the baby out with the bath water,' as most "new age" types all too easily do. To argue that the human mind is somehow an obsolete artifact is nonsense. It is quite necessary. (Which is not to say that at some point it cannot be transcended by something better).
People who are interested in science are people who are interested in explanations -- unusually curious. Science is surely limited -- circumscribed by what it cannot explain -- but what is it about it that satisfies or at least stokes that curiosity? It happens with some very smart people. I suppose it reduces phenomena to a small number of principles, outlines fundamental forces, and works with a vast number of permutations of these first principles. I personally am a great devotee of theory. But I think, probably, the aspect of it that can be magical cannot yet be scientifically explained.
Ultimately, science is a wonderful descriptor, but not much of an explainer.
One of the more astounding things the human species does is to predict invisible phenomena with mathematics, and then later make the phenomena visible in an act of validation.
The Cartesian grid is no longer satisfactory to describe the universe, given what we now know of it. And we are utterly wedded to it -- mathematically and philosophically.
Physics is the art and science of talking monkeys trying to make sense of their surroundings.
As Lawrence Krauss pointed out in the October 2009 issue of Scientific American, there aren't very many good reasons to go back to the moon or to Mars anymore. Previously, it was thought that space exploration would revolutionize science, but, at least inside of the solar system, this is no longer the case. Moreover, we can fully accomplish with unmanned vehicles (which are, incidentally, far less expensive given all of the collateral costs of supporting humans on such a mission) what we would with humans on board. We must realize that at this point the only reason to undertake these endeavors is for the sheer adventure of it, not for scientific necessity, and given the effective and much less expensive unmanned options. These missions would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and finding support for such an expenditure would at this point be a virtual impossibility. Most of all we must realize that we have more pressing concerns here on Earth, our home.
My principal gripe with the scientific establishment is the degree to which the entire enterprise is utterly soulless. Implicit dogmas have seeped in, which are in large part the culprit.