Steven Weinberg says that there was a scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. To his credit, he 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 voids are impossible. Before that, scientific achievements in ancient and non-Western civilizations were sporadic and not sustained. 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 fourteenth century. (2079)
What happened in the 14th century in the West is that scientific knowledge progressed continuously with one scientist building on the achievements of other scientists. The author gives a hint as to why this happened:
Robert Merton surmised that Protestantism created social attitudes favorable to science and promoted a combination of rationalism and empiricism and a belief in an understandable order in nature, attitudes and beliefs which 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 discusses the Condemnation of 1277, as it is called, but believes that it hindered 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 he is obsessed with religion because he feels the need to express his lack of faith in God in a book about science and history:
It is not that the modern scientist makes the decision at the outset that there are no supernatural persons. 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 prevents him from being rational:
Or we may come across phenomena that, in principle, cannot be included in a unified framework for all of science. For example, although we may come to understand the processes in the brain 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 recalled by Sean Carroll 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 “consciousness-responsible brain” is a reference to the conscious awareness of humans as opposed to the sensory awareness of animals. Science is a method of investigation that arises from the observations of the senses. For example: Why is the sky blue? Knowing that the sky is blue means more than the light that enters your eye and a signal that goes to your brain. It means an 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 make ourselves subjects of our own knowledge. It is a metaphysical question.
Humans have been very successful in answering scientific questions, as this book explains. One can reasonably say that there are no mysteries in science, only questions that have not yet been answered. There is very little success answering metaphysical questions and the word mystery is necessary. Regarding consciousness, that word can be avoided by saying, “The sky is manifesting its blue color, and humans are open to that manifestation.” There is no evidence that human consciousness is a brain process. There is, of course, evidence that sensory awareness in animals is a brain process.
On the subject of consciousness, 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 he exists, deduced from the observation that he is thinking about it… He (René Descartes) gives several arguments (all unconvincing) for the existence of God, but rejects the authority of organized religion. (3162)
He was wrong in saying 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 catch ourselves in the act of our own existence.
Descartes was trying to explain free will by saying that there is a spiritual “little man” located behind the eyes who controls the body like a stagecoach driver controls a team of horses. This nonsense is called dualism and 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’ arguments for the existence of God were probably based on Thomas Aquinas’ famous “five ways” and Aristotle’s “main mover” argument. The best argument for the existence of God is called the cosmological argument for historical reasons only. It is based on the metaphysics of Thomas 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 differentiates us from other humans. In other words, humans are finite beings. A finite being cannot be the reason for his own existence because he cannot limit himself. 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.
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 one another.
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 embodied spirits. Another way of expressing 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 came into existence 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 for the existence of God. My understanding is 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 several 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 allow for biological life? What caused the second law of thermodynamics to be suspended when life began and evolved into mammals?
One can call these five arguments for the existence of God pseudoscience. Atheists respond to this pseudoscience with a pseudoscience that is most 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 the numbers 3 and 4 in his book. For evolution, I recommend you read these academic works by leading 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 were 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 doesn’t 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 93 million miles away from their star. The question related to the multiverse theory is this: Why do physical constants have the value that they do? There is no answer for this question. So people like Weinberg got the idea that there are a whole 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 his book that does not reflect badly on Weinberg’s character because it is found in physics textbooks on quantum mechanics. In fact, I may be to blame for the pseudoscience.
Instead of calculating the trajectories of a planet or a particle, the evolution of probability waves is calculated, whose intensity at any position and time tells us the probability of finding the planet or particle at that moment and place. (3896)
Weinberg refers to Born’s statistical interpretation of the Shrödinger function. There is plenty of evidence that the Shrödinger function is a wave, but no evidence that it is a probability wave. I give my arguments in an EzineArticles.com article titled “The Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics.”