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Tuesday, July 25, 2017
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    Below Fold, Life, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows: Conclusion

    by Dave Pruett | 1, Add your Comment | Apr 6, 2013
    The Milky Way at 5000 Meters, copyright Serge Brunier via NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day
    "There is neither spirit nor matter in the world; the stuff of the universe is spirit-matter. No other substance but this could produce the human molecule." -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Before Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) earned renown as a titan of philosophy, he was an amateur astronomer, and a damn good one. Kant correctly hypothesized that extragalactic nebulae are in fact "island universes," galaxies like our own Milky Way, albeit so remote as to appear cloud-like, their individual stars beyond the resolving power of telescopes of his day. Not until the 1920s did Edwin Hubble, peering through the Mt. Wilson Observatory's ...

    Below Fold, Life, Politics, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows: Materialism

    by Dave Pruett | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 31, 2013
    Science's Sacred Cows: Materialism
    "If 'dead' matter has reared up this curious landscape of fiddling crickets, song sparrows, and wondering [humans], it must be plain even to the most devoted materialist that the matter of which he [or she] speaks contains amazing, if not dreadful, powers." -- Loren Eiseley in The Immense Journey In opposing the Vietnam War, Senator J. William Fulbright wisely understood: "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects." Similarly for science. The efficacy of science rests not primarily in its assumptions but in its ...

    Below Fold, People & Places, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows: Reductionism

    by Dave Pruett | 1, Add your Comment | Mar 23, 2013
    Science's Sacred Cows: Reductionism
    "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." -- John Muir When Descartes partitioned the world into the res extensa (material objects) and the res cogitans (mind), he treated the two domains quite differently. In chapter VI of Meditations and Principles (1644), he writes: "... there is a vast difference between the mind and body, in respect that body, from its nature, is always divisible, and that mind is entirely indivisible." The body he viewed as a machine, which could be understood by the interactions of its constituent parts. Hence, the dissection ...

    Below Fold, Life, Sights & Sounds, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows: Realism

    by Dave Pruett | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 13, 2013
    Science's Sacred Cows: Realism
    "The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose." -- J.B.S. Haldane In the previous post, we discussed a fiendishly clever gedanken experiment posed in 1935 by Einstein and co-workers and designed to expose presumed flaws in quantum mechanics (QM). When the so-called "EPR paradox" was finally tested experimentally in 1977 at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, the results were a resounding victory for QM, while ringing the death knell for Einstein's cherished principle of local causes. The "EPR paradox" -- and Bell's Theorem, which ultimately led to its resolution -- firmly established the notion of ...

    Below Fold, Life, Sights & Sounds, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows: Locality

    by Dave Pruett | 3, Add your Comment | Feb 23, 2013
    Science's Sacred Cows: Locality
    In three previous posts we've discussed assumptions that science once embraced, later to discard as invalid or unnecessary. Thus far we've dispatched with absolute time and space (Part 2), determinism (Part 3), and dualism (Part 4). Today we examine the principle of local causes. *****Einstein, who deposed Newton, grew intellectually stodgy in old age. With respect to quantum mechanics (QM), he was positively reactionary. A die-hard determinist, Einstein rejected the statistical implications of quantum theory. In a letter to his friend and fellow physicist Max Born, Einstein confided: "Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it ...

    Below Fold, People & Places, Sights & Sounds, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows: Dualism

    by Dave Pruett | 1, Add your Comment | Feb 9, 2013
    Science's Sacred Cows: Dualism
    "The very act of observing alters the thing being observed." --Werner Heisenberg Since Jan. 8th's post, we've been discussing assumptions that science initially embraced either explicitly or tacitly, later to abandon them as invalid or unnecessary. In the last post we rang the death knell for determinism. Today let's ring it for dualism. The flavor of dualism most germane to science is Cartesian dualism, in reference to the 17th-century French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes, who partitioned the cosmos into two domains: the res extensa (matter) and the res cogitans (mind). Foundational for classical physics, the Cartesian partition presupposed the independence of ...

    Below Fold, Life, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows: Determinism

    by Dave Pruett | 0, Add your Comment | Jan 24, 2013
    Science's Sacred Cows: Determinism
    "God does not play dice." --Albert Einstein Since my Jan. 8 post, we've been discussing assumptions that science initially embraced, either explicitly or tacitly, only to abandon later as invalid or unnecessary. These include most of the following: dualism, determinism, reductionism, absolute time, absolute space, the principle of locality, materialism and realism. The last post addressed absolute time and space. Today we ring the death knell for determinism, the collateral damage of two revolutionary scientific developments of the 20th century. Let's review them in reverse historical order. * * * * *"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing ...

    Below Fold, Life, Talk, Views

    Science’s Sacred Cows

    by Dave Pruett | 3, Add your Comment | Jan 8, 2013
    Science's Sacred Cows
    In a 1983 address to an international symposium on Galileo, Pope John Paul II issued a stunning pronouncement: The Church is convinced that there can be no real contradiction between science and faith. ... It is certain that science and faith represent two different orders of knowledge, autonomous in their processes, but finally converging upon the discovery of reality in all its aspects... Given centuries of animosity between science and religion, the pontiff's admission astounds for several reasons. First, it stresses the complementarity rather than the antagonism of rational and intuitive modes of knowing. Second, it grants autonomy to both revelatory processes, ...

    Below Fold, Life, Sights & Sounds, Talk, Views

    Toward a Post-Materialistic Science

    by Dave Pruett | 1, Add your Comment | Oct 2, 2014
    "Eye of God:" Hubble Telescope image of Helix Nebulaby NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
    "Eye of God:" Hubble Telescope image of Helix Nebula The latest issue of Explore -- the Journal of Science and Healing -- contains a bombshell of an essay. It's titled "Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science," and it could be to science what Luther's 95 Theses were to religion. All eight co-authors are eminent; all but two hold PhDs. Their fields include biology, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and psychiatry. One of the two MDs is Larry Dossey, a pioneer of mind-body medicine and a regular contributor to Huffington Post. The lead authors, Mario Beauregard, Gary Schwartz, and Lisa Miller, are academicians at top-notch universities. Beauregard ...

    Below Fold, Life, Talk, Views

    Darwin’s Greatest Gift

    by Dave Pruett | 3, Add your Comment | Jul 13, 2013
    Darwin's Greatest Gift
    "I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable." -- Charles Darwin in a letter to Robert Hooker, curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. I recently received from the Discovery Institute the pre-print of a book that purports to make yet another case for "intelligent design" (ID), the modern guise of creationism. Perhaps my criticisms regarding scientific materialism (Science's Sacred Cows: Part 8 and Part 9) led the author to assume I'm sympathetic to ID. Not so, but to appreciate why, you need to know a ...

    Below Fold, Life, Talk, Views

    Science vs. Pseudoscience

    by Dave Pruett | 2, Add your Comment | Jun 11, 2013
    Science vs. Pseudoscience
    "Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science, but [humans need] both." -- Fritjof Capra A conflict between "science" and "pseudoscience" is now playing out on the national stage. The conversation is long overdue. I speak of the recent flap surrounding two TED lectures on the nature of consciousness -- by Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock -- that were initially removed from YouTube because TED's scientific curators deemed them "pseudoscience." The move generated strong reaction from TED's normally doting followers. Sheldrake's and Graham's offense: proposing the unorthodox view that consciousness is nonlocal. *****At issue is the relationship between "brain" and ...

    Beliefs, Below Fold, Environment, Life, News, People & Places, Politics, Talk, Views

    Francis’ Momentous Encyclical: On Care for Our Common Home

    by Dave Pruett | 2, Add your Comment | Jun 19, 2015
    Click for full text of Laudato Si'
    "We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are between stories." -- Father Thomas Berry I'm not Catholic. Nevertheless, fond of this pope, I've eagerly awaited the release of Laudato Si', Francis' encyclical on ecology and climate. Immediately after its June 18 release, I paged wildly through it and was blown away. Laudato Si' is absolutely stunning in sweep, depth, and wisdom. It is exactly the right document, at the right moment, by the right person. Humanity now faces existential crises on multiple fronts: extremes of economic disparity, a severely degraded global ecosystem, competition for ...

    Below Fold, Life, Sights & Sounds, Talk, Views

    Beyond Reason

    by Dave Pruett | 0, Add your Comment | Mar 17, 2015
    Beyond Reason
    Sometimes the universe surprises you. A few months ago, I received an email from independent filmmaker Frank Huguenard. Having read some of my posts on the science of consciousness, Frank wanted to know if I'd consider being interviewed for a film on that subject. Cautious (and camera-shy), I was a bit wary and politely asked for more information. Frank suggested that I view his three previous films -- Beyond Me, Beyond Belief, and Beyond Reason, each available through his website BeyondMeFilm.com. All are thought-provoking treatments of controversial subjects. The latter deals mindfully with the interface between science and spirituality, the subject ...
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