RELIGION IN THE ADOLESCENCE OF SCIENCE
NOTES AND SOURCES
IA.. Compare boiling water under varied pressure; the counter-clockwise/clockwise spin of draining water in the northern/southern hemispheres.
IB. Suppose you have tested the rate at which suger dissolves in water at 10, 40, 70 deg. cent., and ask for the rate of dissolving at 25 deg. cent.
IC. Here you ask for the rate of dissolving at -5 deg. cent. [which is in fact zero since the water is ice! (even super-cooled water will immediately crystallize if disturbed) - this violates the prediction based upon extending the graph for 10, 40, 70 deg. cent.]; Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p.41: "...the universe might look the same in every direction as seen from any other galaxy too....We have no scientific evidence for, or against, this assumption. We believe it only on grounds of modesty..."; Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, p. 201: "In several modern cosmological theories, the so-called constants of nature (such as the masses of the elementary particles) actually vary from place to place or from time to time...."
ID. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, second ed., pp 205-6: "[Criteria to distinguish later from earlier stages of the development of scientific theories include] accuracy of prediction, particularly of quantitative prediction; the balance between esoteric and everyday subject matter; and the number of different problems solved....also important [are] simplicity, scope and compatibility with other specialties. [For many] this position lacks an essential element. A scientific theory is usually felt to be better than its predecessors...also because it is somehow a better representation of what nature is really like. [By contrast][t]here is, I think, no theory-independent way to reconstruct phrases like "really [like]"; the notion of the match between the ontology of a theory and its "real" counterpart in nature now seems to me illusive in principle." Weinberg, Ibid, pp. 139-40: "[Heisenberg states that]'it is well known that the formal rules which are used...for calculating observable quantities...may be seriously criticized on the grounds that they contain, as basic elements, relationships between quantities that are apparently unobservable in principle...' ...Heisenberg admitted into his version of quantum mechanics only observables..." See also Van Fraasen, The Scientific Image.
II. Michaelson - Hawking and Israel (eds.), Three Hundred Years of Gravitation, p13: "The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote." Born - Hawking, op. cit., p156: "Physics, as we know it, will be over in six months." Gamov, Mr. Thomkins in Wonderland.
IVA. Carmell and Domb (eds.), Challenge, pp124-41, 164-75, וע"ע לשם שבו ואחלמה, דרושי עולם התהו חלק ב, דרוש ג, ענף כ"ב; Encyclopaedia Britannica III, vol. 10, section on language. .
IVB. Challenge, pp.142-49.
VB. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, chap. 2 (or any primer on evolution)
VIA. Age of the earth - Barrow and Tipler, The Anthropological Cosmological Principle, pp. 159-65. Blending - Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, pp. 113-4. Fossil evidence - Kitcher, The Advancement of Science, pp. 36-7.
VIB. Crick, Life Itself, p.88: "...at the present time we can only say that we cannot decide whether the origin of life on earth was an extremely unlikely event or almost a certainty - or any possibility between these two extremes."
VIC. Dawkins, Ibid., p.40: "...[natural selection] can bring about minor changes like the dark coloration that has evolved in various species of moth since the industrial revolution."; Ridley, The Problems of Evolution, p. 25: "...the peppered moth biston betularia...This moth has two types, a dark melanic type and a lighter peppered type.....Before the industrial revolution the peppered type was much the commoner of the two. Then...in industrial areas the melanic type increased in frequency to become the more abundant of the two; in non-industrial areas the peppered type remained the commoner. As industrial activity decreased...the peppered type became common again." Nature/vol. 396/ 5 Nov 1998 Melanism: "Evolution in Action, by Michael F. N. Majerus, OUP: 1998 reviewed by: Jerry A. Coyne: From time to time, evolutionists reexamine a classic experimental study and find, to their horror, that it is flawed or downright wrong. We no longer use chromosomal polymorphism in drosophila pseudoobscura to demonstrate heterozygous advantage, flower-color variation in Linanthus parryae to illustrate random genetic drift, or the viceroy and monarch butterflies to exemplify Batesian mimicry. Until now, however, the prize horse in our stable of examples has been the evolution of 'industrial melanism' in the peppered moth, Biston betularia. ...this classic example is in bad shape... B. betularia probably does not rest on tree trunks - exactly two moths have been seen in such a position in more than 40 years of intensive search. This alone invalidates Kettlewell's release-recapture experiments, as moths were released by placing them directly onto tree trunks. Kettlewell also released his moths during the day, while they normally choose resting places at night. The story is further eroded by noting that the resurgence of typica occurred well before lichens recolonised the polluted trees, and that a parallel increase and decrease of the melanic form also occurred in industrial areas of the United States, where there was no change in the abundance of the lichens that supposedly play such an important role. Finally, the results of Kettlewell's behavioral experiments were not replicated in later studies: moths have no tendency to choose matching backgrounds. Majerus finds many other flaws in the work, but they are too numerous to list here.
VIE. Gould, "Natural History," May, 1995, p. 22: "Variation within a species doesn't tell you how to treat interactions between species; the phenomena are disparate and exist at different scales....Causal continuity does not unite all levels; the small does not always aggregate smoothly into the large." (Gould wrote this in a different context.)
VIF. Larry Martin [one of the world's foremost extpertes on the birds of the Mesozoic era], The Sciences, March/April 1988: "I began to grow disenchanted with the bird-dinosaur link when I compared the eighty-five or so anatomical features seriously proposed as being shared by birds and dinosaurs. To my shock, virtually none of the comparisons held up....the moral of the story is that such poor attention to detail has been repeated with almost every feature cited to support a bird-dinosaur relation. No wonder that [the book criticizing the link] has an undercurrent of righteous outrage, or that it has been so bitterly attacked by the practitioners of the faulty logic it exposes."
VIG. Cf. Denton, Evolution:A Theory in Crisis, chap. 7.
VIH. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable, p.3: "...myriads of species have inhabited the Earth for millions of years without evolving noticeably....major evolutionary transitions have been wrought during episodes of rapid change...evolution has moved by fits and starts." P. 105: "The fossil record offered convincing evidence for evolution, but not for the prevalence of gradual evolution. Unfortunately, circular reasoning soon crept into the evaluation of the record. Darwin had made elaborate claims that fossil data were too sparse ever to support his gradualistic scheme, yet his condemnation of the record was not based on objective observation.. [Darwin: "I do not pretend that I should ever have suspected how poor a record of the mutations of life, the best preserved geological section presented, had not the difficulty of our not discovering innumerable transitional links between the species which appeared at the commencement and close of each formation, pressed so hardly on my theory."] In other words, Darwin deduced the incomplete nature of the fossil record from his theory....Darwin violated his commitment to empiricism.
VI-I. Raup, Extinction, p.17: "The disturbing reality is that for none of the thousands of well-documented extinctions in the geological past do we have a solid explanation of why the extinction occurred. We have many proposals in specific cases [but] ...equally plausible scenarios can be invented with ease....the only evidence we have for the inferiority of victims of extinction is the fact of their extinction - a circular argument." P. 190: "Extinction is evidently a combination of bad genes and bad luck. Some species dies out because they cannot cope in their normal habitat or because superior competitors or predators push them out. But...I feel that most species die out because they are unlucky...because they are subjected to biological or physical stresses not anticipated in their prior evolution and because time is not available for Darwinian natural selection to help them adapt."
VI-J. First self-replicator - The Scientific American," Feb. 1991, "In The Beginning." DNA/proteins - Shapiro, Origins - A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, pp. 134-5: "DNA cannot replicate alone...it requires the aid of proteins in this process. Further, neither DNA nor ...RNA has much catalytic ability....[By contrast] proteins can make things happen effectively in the cell. Alas, they lack another capacity. We know of no mechanism by which they can replicate themselves....Genes and enzymes are linked together in a living cell--two interlocked systems, each supporting the other. It is difficult to see how either could manage alone....we must accept that one occurred before the other in the origin of life. But which one was it?" Human intelligence - Nagel, The View From Nowhere, p. 79: "...the advanced intellectual capacities of human beings...are extremely poor candidates for evolutionary explanation....the capacity to form cosmological and subatomic theories takes us so far from the circumstances in which our ability to think would have had to pass its evolutionary tests that there would be no reason whatever, stemming from the theory of evolution, to rely on it in extension to those subjects."
VI-K. Consider a murder where Jones was known to be in the vicinity (but it was not known that others were not in the vicinity) - Jones should not be accepted as the murderer (though he should be investigated further, as should evolution).
Further Reading on Evolution
Johnson. Phillip, Darwin on Trail, 2nd ed., Intervarsity Presss, 1993.
Shapiro, Robert, Origins - A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Bantam, 1986
Behe, Michael, Darwin's Black Box, Free Press, 1996
Raup, David, Extinction - Bad Genes or Bad Luck?, Norton, 1991
Stanley, Steven, The New Evolutioniariy Timetable, Basic Books, 1981
Crick, Francis, Life Itself - It's Origin and Nature, Simon and Schuster, 1981
[If read for their skeptical content, these sources are excellent, and none of the authors represents a religious point of view. Their postive speculations are, of course, only speculations.]