I meet many people offended by evolution, who passionately prefer to be the personal handicraft of God than to arise by blind physical and chemical forces over aeons from slime…What they wish to be true, they believe is true.
Only 9 percent of Americans accept the central finding of modern biology that human beings (and all other species) have slowly evolved by natural processes from a succession of more ancient beings with no divine intervention needed along the way.
Look on the bright side! Since Carl wrote these words in 1995’s The Demon-Haunted World, support for human beings evolving solely by natural processes has risen to a whopping 32%!! Although, I must admit, I don’t know where that 9% number comes from.
If you read one thing today, make it the great Oliver Sacks on what hallucinations reveal about how our minds work
While some early forms of scientific engagement are known to have been present in prehistoric cultures, it wasn’t until the 19th century that science emerged as a formal, specialized field. Art, on the other hand, was important to the human experience even before we were fully human. Neanderthals were using ochre pigments for ornamental purposes 250,000 years ago, and many of our earliest relics are cave paintings and musical instruments. Hegel has a theory that as time progresses, the world is coming to know itself. Perhaps art is the very illustration of that idea: a collective creative embodiment of the world coming to know itself. Evolution combined with consciousness produces culture.
Rachell Sussman, in The Oldest Living Things In The World
Unfortunately, when I Googled Hegel to try and put that tidbit in context and decipher Hegel’s thought I immediately realized that I don’t understand what Hegel means at all.
Halp from philosophy folks is welcomed.
My own feeling is that science fiction, of all the different forms of literature, is the one that most easily accepts the notion of change. Things are changing very quickly, and any kid who thinks about it knows that the world in which he or she will be a grown-up — which he or she will be helping to run — will be considerably different from this one. Maybe better, maybe worse, but different. Science fiction explores the future world.
I think more and more young people are beginning to feel that science fiction is the kind of literature that a person interested in reality should be reading.
- Isaac Asimov
A while back, I asked why it is that some science fiction is so good at predicting the future. Far and away, the most common answer was because people who read science fiction are then inspired to make that future a reality.
Asimov knew that.
Check out more from his 1983 interview with Dr. Julius Strangepork in Muppets magazine (yes, seriously) at Brain Pickings.
All of science is uncertain and subject to revision. The glory of science is to imagine more than we can prove.
If you think about it … a word is a meme. How do you install a meme? Well, the first time the kid hears it, it’s just a sound. The second time the kid hears it, it’s a somewhat familiar sound and maybe there’s something about the context that’s the same. The third time the kid hears it, a little bit more. Pretty soon, by a process of gradual installation, a structure gets established, a little tiny micro-habit in the brain, which is then available to be exploited in various ways and, of course, not always well.
Sure, a word is a meme, but… meme is also a word.
The point, I take it, is to understand how nature works. Part of that is knowing how to do calculations, but another part is asking deep questions about what it all means. That’s what got me interested in science, anyway. And part of that task is understanding the foundational aspects of our physical picture of the world, digging deeply into issues that go well beyond merely being able to calculate things. It’s a shame that so many physicists don’t see how good philosophy of science can contribute to this quest. The universe is much bigger than we are and stranger than we tend to imagine, and I for one welcome all the help we can get in trying to figure it out.
Carroll, a Cal Tech physicist, defends the value of philosophy in science in a recent article. Recently, scientists such as Neil deGrasse Tyson have publicly slammed philosophy as “futile” and claiming that it has no place in answering the Big Questions about the nature of the universe.
What do you think? Does philosophy have a place in science today? Why or why not?
A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in bygone times, may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations, may have transformed the surface of the globe, so intricate, so inconceivably complex are the processes of nature.
It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring…