Steven Weinberg says there was a scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. To your credit, it provides enough information to support a contrary theory. I agree with the theory that modern science began in the 13th century when the Catholic Church condemned the Aristotelian idea that gaps are impossible. Before that, scientific achievements in ancient and non-Western civilizations were sporadic and unsustained. The following quote supports this theory:
After the age of translation and the conflict over the reception of Aristotle, creative scientific work finally began in Europe in the 14th century. (2079)
What happened in the fourteenth century in the West is that scientific knowledge progressed continuously with one scientist building on the achievements of other scientists. The author gives a clue as to why this happened:
Robert Merton supposed that Protestantism created social attitudes favorable to science and promoted a combination of rationalism and empiricism and the belief in an understandable order in the attitudes and beliefs of nature that he found in the actual behavior of Protestant scientists. (3977)
Science developed in the West, and not in other civilizations, because scientists believed that God created the universe out of nothing. This means that the universe has an “understandable order in nature”, which inspires humans to try to understand the universe. The idea that voids are impossible implies that God did not create the universe because God has infinite power and could have created voids. Weinberg analyzes the Condemnation of 1277, as it is called, but believes that it hampered the development of scientific knowledge.
In my opinion, Steven Weinberg suffers from cognitive dissonance because his atheism conflicts with the reality that so many people believe in God. The following quote indicates that you are obsessed with religion because you feel the need to express your lack of faith in God in a book on science and history:
It is not that the modern scientist makes the decision from the outset that there are no supernatural people. That is my point of view, but there are good scientists who are seriously religious. (789)
The following quote shows that Weinberg’s mental and emotional suffering inhibits him from being rational:
Or we may encounter phenomena that, in principle, cannot be integrated into a unified framework for all science. For example, although we may come to understand the brain processes responsible for consciousness, it is difficult to see how we will ever describe conscious feelings in physical terms. (4199)
There is an equally irrational quote from Carl Sagan that Sean Carroll recalls in a television interview on PBS Newshour. Dr. Carroll posted the video on his blog on March 14, 2014, with the title “A Great Moment for Reason and Science.” This is the quote:
We are a collection of atoms and particles like the rest of the universe, but we have the power to theorize, collect data, and understand this universe.
The phrase “brain responsible for consciousness” is a reference to conscious knowledge of humans as opposed to sensory knowledge of animals. Science is a method of investigation that arises from observations of the senses. For example: Why is the sky blue? Knowing that the sky is blue means that more light is entering your eye and a signal is going to your brain. It means awareness of this. Humans ask the question: What is this consciousness? This is not a scientific question because it does not arise from our senses. The question arises because we can become subjects of our own knowledge. It is a metaphysical question.
Humans have been very successful in answering scientific questions, as this book explains. It can be reasonably said that there are no mysteries in science, only questions that have not yet been answered. There is very little success in answering metaphysical questions and the word mystery is necessary. With regard to consciousness, that word can be avoided by saying, “The sky is manifesting its blue and humans are open to that manifestation.” There is no evidence that human consciousness is a brain process. Of course, there is evidence that sensory knowledge of animals is a brain process.
On the subject of conscience, Steven Weinberg, Sean Carroll and Carl Sagan have a blind spot. However, the following quote reveals that Weinberg did not go to a Catholic university:
For Descartes the only certain fact is that it exists, deduced from the observation that he is thinking about it … He (René Descartes) gives several arguments (all unconvincing) in favor of the existence of God, but rejects the authority of the organized religion. (3162)
He was wrong to say that the pineal gland is the seat of a soul responsible for human consciousness. (3181)
Descartes did not “deduce” that it existed. His quote, “I think, therefore I am,” expressed a common metaphysical experience that we all have. We know that we exist, not because we can see ourselves, but because we can become ourselves and get caught up in the act of our own existence.
Descartes was trying to explain free will by saying that there is a spiritual “little man” behind the eyes who controls the body like a stagecoach driver controls a team of horses. This nonsense is called dualism and it conflicts with the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas who said that unity is a transcendental property of being. A stagecoach driver and a team of horses is not one being, they are many beings.
Descartes’s arguments for the existence of God were probably based on Aquinas’s famous “five paths” and Aristotle’s “prime mover” argument. The best argument for the existence of God is called a cosmological argument for historical reasons only. It is based on the metaphysics of Aquinas and the observation that we have free will. Free will means that we have a center of action that unifies us with respect to ourselves but different from other humans. In other words, humans are finite beings. A finite being cannot be the reason for its own existence because it cannot limit itself. Assuming or expecting the universe to be intelligible means that an infinite being exists and caused the universe of finite beings. In Western religions, we call the infinite being God.
The body and soul are the metaphysical principles of matter and form applied to humans. All humans are equal because we are all members of the same class or category of beings. The soul is the metaphysical principle or incomplete being that makes us human, and the body is what differentiates us from each other.
We can understand what a human being is because we know everything we do and everything that happens to us. However, we cannot define or explain what a human being is. We can only say that humans are spirits incarnate. Another way to express this is to say that the human soul is spiritual. In short, physics professors Weinberg, Carroll, and Sagan don’t know what they’re talking about.
Astronomical discoveries in the 1960s and later prove that the universe began to exist 14 billion years ago. This raises the scientific question: What caused the Big Bang? There is no scientific answer to this question and many people think that this “gap” is evidence of the existence of God. I understand that the Big Bang is evidence that God does not exist because it is evidence that the universe is not intelligible. The Big Bang, however, is a reason to believe the Bible because the Bible says in various places that God created the universe out of nothing.
There are four other gaps like this: What caused prokaryotes to appear on Earth 3.6 billion years ago? What made mammals evolve from prokaryotes? What caused the fine tuning of physical constants to enable biological life? What caused the second law of thermodynamics to be suspended when life began and became mammals?
One can call these five arguments for the existence of God pseudoscience. Atheists respond to this pseudoscience with a pseudoscience that is more egregiously wrong. Atheists are trying to fight fire with fire, or anxiety prevents them from thinking rationally and behaving honestly. This is the pseudoscientific answer to the five arguments of the god of the gaps:
- The Big Bang was caused by a vacuum fluctuation.
- Life on Earth came from another galaxy.
- Evolution was caused by natural selection.
- There are many other universes where the constants are different.
- The second law of thermodynamics only applies to closed systems.
Weinberg promotes No. 3 and No. 4 in his book. For evolution, I recommend that you read these academic papers from mainstream scientists:
- Evolution Revolution: Evolution is true. Darwin is wrong. This changes everything
- Evolution: a look from the 21st century
- The Plausibility of Life: Solving Darwin’s Dilemma
Weinberg’s discussion of the multiverse theory made it clear to me why the theory is irrational, and this is one of the reasons I recommend the book. If the Earth was a little closer to the Sun or a little further away, life could not have evolved. Question: Why is the distance between the Earth and the Sun 93 million miles? Answer: Random processes. If someone does not understand the term “random processes”, they can point out that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars each and many planets are not 150 million miles away from their star. The question related to the multiverse theory is the following: Why do physical constants have the value that they do? There is no answer for this question. So people like Weinberg came up with the idea that there are a host of other universes where the constants are different.
Weinberg and Carroll are guilty by association of promoting the number 5 because they are American physicists. The American Journal of Physics published an article titled “Entropy and Evolution” (Am. J. Phys., Vol. 76, No. 11, November 2008) saying that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and giving the results of an absurd calculation. The article disgraces all physicists in the United States.
There is another example of pseudoscience in your book that doesn’t reflect Weinberg’s character badly because it is found in physics textbooks on quantum mechanics. In fact, I may be the one to blame for pseudoscience.
Instead of calculating the trajectories of a planet or a particle, the evolution of probability waves is calculated, whose intensity in any position and time tells us the probability of finding the planet or the particle at that moment. (3896)
Weinberg refers to Born’s statistical interpretation of the Shrödinger function. There is a lot of evidence that the Shrödinger function is a wave, but there is no evidence that it is a probability wave. I give my arguments in an EzineArticles.com article titled “The Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics”.