Philosophy of science paper_A Melodrama of Politics, Science and Religion

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ABSTRACT: The aim of my project is to understand how religious, scientific and political …

ABSTRACT: The aim of my project is to understand how religious, scientific and political
reasons shaped and inspired the theory of ‘Origin of life and universe’ in a progressive way
and to look it from a philosopher’s point of view. I also want to explore the aspect on what
makes a radical idea like Darwin’s evolutionary theory which was different from the existing
paradigm to be accepted amongst the scientific community.

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  • 1. 11/22/2011PHILOSOPHY A MELODRAMA OF POLITICS, SCIENCE ANDOF SCIENCEPROJECT RELIGION Mahesh Jakhotia YIF11M_25 Project under the supervision of Prof. Dhruv Raina as a part of ‘Philosophy of Science’ course | Young India Fellowship
  • 2. A MELODRAMA OF POLITICS, SCIENCE AND RELIGIONABSTRACT: The aim of my project is to understand how religious, scientific and politicalreasons shaped and inspired the theory of ‘Origin of life and universe’ in a progressive wayand to look it from a philosopher’s point of view. I also want to explore the aspect on whatmakes a radical idea like Darwin’s evolutionary theory which was different from the existingparadigm to be accepted amongst the scientific community.1) POLITICAL CHANGES WHICH INFLUENCED THE DEBATE1.1) Scopes trial: In 1920s a young teacher Jon Thomas Scopes was prosecuted forteaching Darwinism in classrooms. The then presidential candidate William Jennings Bryanwas the person who prosecuted Scopes and this caught the attention of the world. The federalgovernment declared Scopes as guilty and fined him $100. This influenced the bookpublishers to remove the Evolution theory from their curriculum to avoid any legal setbacks.1.2) Russian arm superiority: In 1950s things started to change their base because of thesuperiority of Russians in rocketry and arms world. Americans realized that its education wasnot training the young minds and this made them to change their curriculum. Thus evolutionstarted appearing in the subjects once again and the support of evolution started.1.3) Story of Huxley: Reach bred clergymen could only become scientists:In the Oxford Evolution Debate in 1860, there were two main characters – BishopWilberforce, a clergy man and a scientist. He himself delivered a scientific paper on the daybefore the debate. Second character was Huxley who came from a low income family, butalso was a scientific researcher. Bishop Wilberforce never thought that science and theologywould have to part Company.By far the most remarkable feature of the Oxford debate—as compared with the myth thatlater grew around it—is that all the main protagonists left the Oxford Museum well satisfiedwith their performances and convinced that they had personally carried the dayWhy is there a division of religion and science? For this you need to know the story ofHuxley. Huxley came from a low income family, and at that time accepting money forscientific research was considered undignified according to the church clergymen. And most Philosophy of Science project 1
  • 3. of the well-bred people of science had their own personal wealth or derived it from othersources.Hence he thought the division of Religion from state would make things better. The resultantexodus of amateurs from the higher ranks of scientific debate would permit Huxley’s coterieof scientific careerists to assume the reins of power.2) SCIENTIFIC REASONS2.1) Development of Geology: Though philosophers like Herodotus, Aristotle, Lucretius,Strabo, and Seneca believed in the theory that the phenomena of evolution they observe isbecause of natural and not supernatural causes. However it remained as facts as they couldnot substantiate their claims. When geology started developing fossil study was madepossible, hence the facts about evolution could not be substantiated.Modern geology began in the 18th cent. When field studies by the French mineralogist J. E.Guettard and others proved more fruitful than speculation. The German geologist AbrahamGottlob Werner, in spite of the many errors of his specific doctrines and the diversion ofmuch of his energy into a fruitless controversy (in which he maintained that the origin of allrocks was aqueous), performed a great service for the science by demonstrating thechronological succession of rocks.[1]3) RELIGIOUS REASONS3.1) The paradox of time: In Christianity it was believed that earth was born approximately6000 years ago. This totally contradicts with almost all the scientific theories – Darwintheory, and The Big Bang Theory in which the universe was born 13.7 billion years ago.Hence the Day-age creationism was re-explained by the creationist community, in which theduration of day was changed to millions of years to satisfy the scientific statements. Theirpremise was that sun was born on the 4th day of the creation, hence it is not possible to saythat duration was for 24 hours, instead it must have been for very large durations of time,which totally supports the big bang theory.3.2) Intelligent Design: Intelligent design merged as a progression theory of the creationists.The IDs explain that the world is irreducibly complex composed of a single system of severalwell-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal ofany one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly Philosophy of Science project 2
  • 4. complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initialfunction, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successivemodifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex systemthat is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.[2]Even big bang theory explains that the Universe was once a small point which was extremelyhot and in dense state which eventually expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused theyoung Universe to cool and resulted in its present continuously expanding state. But how didthe hot and dense state comes into place initially? This is one of the most important questionsposed by creationists.3.3) Similarity with the Plato’s and Aristotle’s ideologies: The debate between thecreationist and evolutionist can be considered as similar to Plato’s and Aristotle’s. Platobelieved that supernatural cause is the reason behind our creation. Everything already existedin the supernatural world. Whereas Aristotle attributed the phenomena they observed tonatural and not supernatural causes.4) KARL POPPER’S VIEW ON DARWINISMPhilosopher of science Karl R. Popper set out the concept of falsifiability as a way todistinguish science and pseudoscience: Testable theories are scientific, but those that areuntestable are not. However, inUnended Quest, Popper declared "I have come to theconclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory buta metaphysical research programme, a possible framework for testable scientific theories.”Only a few years later, Popper wrote, "I have in the past described the theory as "almosttautological"… I still believe that natural selection works in this way as a researchprogramme. Nevertheless, I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status ofthe theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation".His conclusion, later in the article is "The theory of natural selection may be so formulatedthat it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be notstrictly universally true."[3] Philosophy of Science project 3
  • 5. 5) HOW COME DARWIN’S RADICAL IDEA WAS ACCEPTED EVEN THOUGH ITWAS WAY AHEAD OF TIME?Sometimes it so happens that when a scientist comes up with a theory it is not accepted, butafter a few years when some other scientist comes up with the same theory a few years later itis accepted by the scientific community?To understand this scenario we need to look at a few things: a. The theory might have been way ahead of time. b. The scientist might have not used the right vocabulary to explain the concepts. c. The scientist might have presented his research to wrong scientific communities.But if we see Einstein’s relativity theory or Darwin’s evolution theory, it was accepted bypeople, even though it was different from the existing paradigms. For a work to getacknowledged a few facts need to be checked. a. Was the scientist in good terms with all his peers? Was he ready to listen to the arguments given by his counter-scientists? b. Was the proposed theory his first one or later one? Because if it is his second or third theory then he has already developed a credibility for himself in his first two theories. c. Was the theory presented in front of right optimistic scientific communities? If the well-known communities accept his arguments then rest of the other communities have to accept his theory as it has already been consented by the main ones.Darwin was able to satisfy all the three factors. Evolution theory was not his first theory.Moreover he was very much open to criticism from counter scientists and was never knownto have a cold war with any other scientist.Charles Darwin would be remembered today, even if he had never published his work onevolution, for his geology. His geological work ranged from physical geology, on volcanoes,coral reefs and the upheaval and subsidence to land; to paleontology, collecting fossils duringhis time on the Beagle voyage and studying fossil barnacles in his home in Downe, Kent. Hisown work on geology contributed greatly to his views of life on earth, but he was equallyadept at understanding the work of others and how it related to his ideas. As a young man Philosophy of Science project 4
  • 6. Darwin was passionate about geology, dreaming of becoming a big name in the field. In1859, just months before the publication of On The Origin of Species, Darwin won theWollaston Medal, the highest honour of the Geological Society of London ‘for his numerouscontributions to Geological Science’, marking him out as one of the great Victoriangeologists.[4]6) CONCLUSION: Getting to a conclusion for such a debatable and contesting topic is arealistically impossible goal. The conflict between Creationism and Evolutionism exist eventoday in large numbers. Science has explained many theories. In big bang theory scientistsdiscovered the origin of life by explaining that universe expanded from a small ball of highenergy and temperature. The expansion happened because of the decrease in temperature.The most basic question to be asked is why did the universe divide into subatomic and atomicparticles when the temperature decreased? Who assigned this property to objects? Why is itthat hot things always have to expand? There must have been a creator who has assigned theproperties in such a way so that the universe starts building up indirectly.7) APPENDIXEvolution theory is made up of five main principles.  First, to be in a position to procreate, organisms have constantly to fight for survival.  Second, on occasion random hereditary variations arise.  Third, every so often, one of these slight variations will confer on its bearer an important  Advantage in the fight for survival.  Fourth, this individual and its descend-ants will procreate more than those organisms lacking the useful acquisition.  Fifth, eventually enough of these changes will accumulate in order for a new species to emerge.Big Bang Theory - Evidence for the TheoryWhat are the major evidences which support the Big Bang theory?  First of all, we are reasonably certain that the universe had a beginning. Philosophy of Science project 5
  • 7.  Second, galaxies appear to be moving away from us at speeds proportional to their distance. This is called "Hubbles Law," named after Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) who discovered this phenomenon in 1929. This observation supports the expansion of the universe and suggests that the universe was once compacted.  Third, if the universe was initially very, very hot as the Big Bang suggests, we should be able to find some remnant of this heat. In 1965, Radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered a 2.725 degree Kelvin (-454.765 degree Fahrenheit, - 270.425 degree Celsius) Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) which pervades the observable universe. This is thought to be the remnant which scientists were looking for. Penzias and Wilson shared in the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery.  Finally, the abundance of the "light elements" Hydrogen and Helium found in the observable universe are thought to support the Big Bang model of origins.8) REFERENCES[1]: http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/sci/A0858359.html[2]: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/creationism/[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation%E2%80%93evolution_controversy#cite_note-0[4]: http://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/darwin200/pages/index.php?page_id=c3[5]: The Golem by Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch[6]: Philosophy of Science – A very short introduction by Samir Okasha.[7]: Fabulous science: Fact and fiction in the history of scientific discovery by John Waller[8]: The Black Swan Theory : The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Philosophy of Science project 6