July 12, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Pardon, Your Worldview Is Showing

The most dangerous ideology is the one that doesn’t acknowledge its worldview assumptions.

Several articles from the science news were partly successful noting the risk of assumptions in scientific theories. Unfortunately, none of them recognized the fundamental assumption of naturalism.

Time for one universe: Adam Frank, writing frankly for NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos & Culture blog, thinks physics may have gotten “something really important really wrong.” That something important is the idea of a multiverse, a concept that cosmologist Lee Smolin championed but is now abandoning in his new book with philosopher Roberto Unger, The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time. Frank makes this amazing statement that undermines the popular notion of science’s triumphal march of progress:

When the path towards progress in a field becomes muddied, the best response may be to step away from all the technical specifics that make up day-to-day practice and begin pulling up the floorboards. In other words, rather than continuing to push on the science, it may be best to ask about the unspoken philosophies supporting that research effort.

Based on a workshop he attended organized by Smolin and Unger, he feels more than ever that string theory and multiverse theory have led scientists astray. The bullet points from the conference: (1) There is only one universe (which should be intuitive from the definition of the word), (2) Time is real, and (3) Mathematics is selectively real. “Taken together, these three claims constitute a significant departure from mainstream ideas in physics,” Frank says. Smolin and Unger recognize the importance recognizing the philosophical underpinnings of science. The new book “constitutes just an outline — a beginning — for a new approach to physics,” but does it go far enough? Is philosophy itself derivable from matter and energy in time?

Human exceptionalism: Could we upload a brain to a computer? asks Richard Jones (U of Sheffield) in The Conversation. And if we could, should we? Jones takes a historical look at transhumanism up through modern ideas and on through future trends. A brain is more than molecules, he says with logical finesse, even if it were possible to replicate its wiring diagram:

This points us towards a deeper conceptual difficulty. Just because we can simulate some aspects of the way the brain works, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are completely emulating a real brain, or indeed a mind. No conceivable increase in computer power will allow us to simulate the brain at the level of individual molecules. So brain emulation would only be possible if we could abstract its digital, logical operations from the messy molecular level detail.

It’s as hopeless as trying to deduce the logic of a computer by watching the electrons flowing. Smith does a good job debunking transhumanism, even to the point of calling it dangerous or at least a distortion of science’s priorities. But he also says, “But no-one designed a brain – it evolved – so there is no reason to expect any simple mapping of its operations to digital logic.” Pardon, your materialistic worldview is showing. And it is self-refuting. By Smith’s own statement, if his own brain evolved without design, there is no reason to expect it to be logical.

Explaining right but not left: Simon Oxehham, writing for New Scientist, purports to explain “Brexit, Trump, and the rise of the far right.” As he points to immigration and other social movements, relying on explanations by sociologists, he depicts conservatives as driven by emotion, as if he stands on a dispassionate higher plane. Example: “Instead, people find ways to explain what is happening around them that lay the blame with someone else.” In this, he betrays a severe case of the Yoda Complex. Could not a conservative write a mirror-image piece (if New Scientist would print it) about the rise of the far left? How would a neutral observer determine who is left, and who is right?

Car evolution: Two scientists mentioned by Science Daily used Darwinian evolutionary theory to analyze the evolution of automobiles (which everyone knows are intelligently designed). This is a turbo-charged case of Berra’s Blunder, explains Evolution News & Views. Readers may wish to consider whether natural selection is a case of circular reasoning, as Stephen Talbott argues for the Nature Institute. Talbott is neither creationist or intelligent design advocate, but he recognizes the problem that many evolutionary explanations amount to little more than storytelling and tautologies.

What is matter? Never mind: A refreshing trend away from storytelling in scientific publishing is being undertaken by a new journal called simply, Matters. “Stories can wait. Science can’t” announces the explanation page, “Why Matters.” This journal promises to publish single observations from anyone who can show credible evidence subject to triple-blind peer review. An embedded video shows how traditional publishing stifles the lone scientist wishing to make public an important observation by forcing him or her to make up a story that fits the consensus. Unfortunately, the video misrepresents the Galileo Affair, portraying church fathers with “I love Jesus” tatts stomping on his neck. With that kind of misunderstanding of history, will Matters stifle a submission with a credible observation of design, like powered flight?

To begin to unravel the stranglehold that materialism maintains on “science,” one needs to point out its worldview dependencies. This gets the materialist off his pedestal, so that real dialogue can begin. Then, one needs to proceed by showing how the materialistic worldview is self-defeating, because it relies on concepts that cannot be reduced to be particles. Those concepts, further, must be non-evolving, else they become unworthy of trust.

Your job is to remove the Yoda Complex mask from the materialist. It acts like one of the new-fangled Virtual Reality headsets, creating universes the wearer can adapt with his own actions. Sooner or later, the wearer bumps into an object in the real world. When you see a scientist acting strangely with his Yoda headset on, a few well-placed obstacles can help bring him to his senses, forcing him to take the mask off by himself. Then, smile and talk to him about reality. Expect this to take a little time during the transition from Storyland, which just looked so real to him. It can be jolting.


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  • Dale says:

    David, thank you for your articles and your long-time service!
    I agree completely with the premise of this article, but think one correction is in order. I believe you misunderstood his use of the word “logical” in Richard Jones’ statement “So brain emulation would only be possible if we could abstract its digital, logical operations from the messy molecular level detail.” In computer science, the term “logical” can refer to the smallest chip operations of AND, OR, NOT, etc. I don’t think he means that the brain is “logical” in the intelligent design sense, but rather he is referring to digital logic computer operations.

    • Editor says:

      Thank you, Dale, for your thoughtful comment. I think, though, that you point out a distinction without a difference, as far as the point of this article goes. Symbolic logic, Boolean logic, and digital circuits are all intelligently designed. They are based on the same axioms of reasoning, such as “If p, then q” which can be described in symbolic form and programmed into computer operations using logic gates. The syllogisms of formal logic require the same kind of inferences (e.g., the law of non-contradiction). Jones cannot presume, therefore, that the circuit map of an evolved brain would conform to consistent axioms of digital logic. Consequently, it could not give rise to formal logic, either.

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