Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scientists Theorizing Badly

Marcelo Gleiser, a professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College--and apparently no theist himself, argues that scientists like Stephen Hawking who hope to show God is unnecessary to explain the world are themselves assuming a monotheistic view of reality in assuming that there is a unified theory for everything. He doesn't mention Hawking or his book by name, and his immediate target is string theory, but the broader implications seem pretty clear.

Have we identified another instance of atheists having to assume the Christian worldview in order to refute it?
Gradually, it became clear to me that scientists — and seekers of perfection from all walks of life — have been courting the wrong muse. Neither symmetry nor perfection should be our guiding principle, as they have been for millennia.

We don't have to look for the mind of God in Nature and try to express it through our equations. Imperfect Nature has plenty to offer, if we are willing to embrace its message.

The search for an all-embracing theory of Nature inspired by beauty and perfection is misguided, rooted in the monotheistic culture that has for so long dominated Western thought.

Superstring theory and the widespread belief that it represents the truth of all existence, is the scientific equivalent of a Jewish-Christian-Muslim God that designed the cosmos, a theory based on mathematical symmetry as an expression of Nature's perfection. Even if God is hidden from the equations (and He certainly is), the mythic equivalent of "all is one" persists.

The time has come to shift our focus. A new way of thinking about the natural world is emerging that emphasizes change and transformation rather than stasis and perfection.

Read the rest here.

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