The Desolation of Reification — Part I

This is the introduction to a three-part series that expounds upon some of the self-inflicted wounds plaguing the modern empirical sciences — physics in particular — threatening their continued successes. The second article focuses upon necessary terminological distinctions that must be drawn to provide a context for addressing the problems. The third article examines common examples of the deeply flawed language of mathematical reification employed to describe physical phenomena.

Introduction

To greater and lesser extents, for approximately the past 150 years the astounding growth of knowledge of the world employing physics has been hamstrung largely by physicists themselves. The primary contributor is the repeated careless use of terms spurred by the imposition of unscientific interpretations. Of course, this will require some expansion… and a humble request for the reader to indulge me with a little patience.

Hubris? Physics “hamstrung” by physicists? The universe is “not mathematical”? Hear me out, please.

Exposing Some Nonsense

Around the turn of the 20th century, classical physicists were confronted by seemingly inexplicable observations that eventually spurred (in particular) the development of quantum and relativity theories. During roughly the same period and all the way up to the present, the brilliant findings of physics have been tainted by neo-Kantianism, positivism, and various forms of reductionism. Physicists were generally neither trained nor experienced in philosophy — in particular, missing the boat on realism. Einstein understood this and mildly chastised physicists to engage in philosophical reflection upon the findings. [00]

To be clear: it is not the undeniable successes of physicists during this period, e.g., extremely accurate and precise predictions of quantum mechanics, and of special and general relativity. These and other findings have greatly increased our knowledge of the physical world. It would be an understatement merely to suggest resulting technologies have altered the course of human development.

But, the natural science of physics is practiced by human beings, and the human condition is all too often burdened by pride, ignorance, complacency, entrenched orthodoxy, and jealousy. While the practice of any natural science — understood as an intellectual virtue (more on this below) helps to promote healthy reasoning, as humans there are many competing forms of “Turkish Delight” that weaken our capacity to reason. For example, success in prediction and theory development is not necessarily accompanied by understanding. Moreover, if not careful in one’s own field and if not open to the findings of other fields of inquiry, success can take on a momentum of its own to breed pride… and even contempt. The terms and even the kind of terminological language employed in one field do not apply as well in other fields, which in turn leads to confusion and jealously protecting one’s own turf. [01]

Stephen Hawking’s derisive view of philosophy was shocking in its ignorance when he asserted “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics,” and that scientists rather than philosophers “have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge”. [02] The underlying view espoused by Hawking is that other fields of inquiry must be practiced like physics or face derision and be ignored. Indeed, in his book The Grand Design, Hawking opined “philosophy is dead” because the big questions discussed earlier by philosophers are now in the hands of physicists. [03] The irony is not only that Hawking promoted his own inadequate philosophical opinion (hence refuting himself), but he also squarely ignored Einstein’s admonition to, well, avail one’s self of an education.

Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg, guilty of spouting nonsense on previous occasions (the laws of physics are as real as the rocks in the field [04]), devoted an entire chapter “Against Philosophy” in his book Dreams of a Final Theory in which he ineptly argued philosophy is more damaging than supportive of physics, often like a straightjacket from which physicists must free themselves. Not to be outdone, Neil de Grasse Tyson — supported by Richard Dawkins — categorically stated in public “…we learn about the expanding universe, … we learn about quantum physics, each of which falls so far out of what you can deduce from your armchair that the whole community of philosophers … was rendered essentially obsolete.” [05, 06] Tyson completely misses the point: philosophy depends upon what the MESs learn about the natural world in order to then reason to higher verities. There is more on Tyson below.

By self-admission, these gentlemen despise the “love of wisdom” (philosophy), [07] perhaps because they know not what wisdom is, in contrast to the mere acquisition of knowledge within their own narrow fields. They are little more than the modern version of Ancient Greek sophists: more concerned about profiting from winning arguments and entertaining the unsuspecting with allegedly profound assertions than about pursuing truth. However, addressed below is a deeper more problematic issue (for them) why these gentlemen reject philosophy as an effective means for reflecting upon reality.

Indeed, it is not the successes themselves, but the reductionism of many physicists’ perspectives imposed upon reality that is at issue. Physics is a powerful tool, but neither is it the only tool (an opinion that betrays an ontologically flat-landed view of reality) nor the “best” one (an opinion which betrays a flat-landed epistemology) — both largely imposed uncritically. If one believes a priori (and quite unscientifically) that the only or “best” available tool by which to understand reality is a hammer (physics), then every problem (phenomena not understood) looks like a nail… and is treated as such.

This disordered perspective was animated by bad philosophical (ultimately self-immolating) ideas — wrecking damage in their wake: naturalism, materialism, physicalism, scientism, reification, etc. To be clear: criticized are not necessarily the “process” or “methodological” versions of such philosophical views, although there are ample reasons to criticize unrestrained versions of these. Rather, it is the fallacy reification (in particular) that must be exposed for the cancerous meme it is. Reification is a fallacy of ambiguity by which an abstraction is treated as if it were a concrete real event or physical entity with causal efficacy. In the case of physics, mathematics takes on a life of its own — trumping even the reality of the physical phenomena described (the map is confused for the territory).

Some examples are, “the laws of nature govern the behaviors of…,” “light is not only an electromagnetic wave but a probability wave…,” “spacetime bends, warps, and twists…,” “the laws of nature are as real as the rocks in the field,” “mass is equivalent to energy,” “the universe is mathematical,” etc. Here is another recent example quoted at length:

“… buried in [quantum mechanics’] complex equations, is the key to understanding how life unfolds. Quantum theory tells us that reality is expressed in a function called a wavefunction which describes not only what exists based on our experience but all things that could exist at that moment. That which we have not observed or measured, exists within the wavefunction even if it contradicts other observations. The cat is dead and alive at once.” [08]

Interestingly, much of this parallels what resulted from a flawed philosophical perspective imposed upon Newton’s “Laws” of motion (in particular the 2nd Law): a mechanistic view of reality that denies the intrinsic natures of material objects and physical phenomena, reducing them to inert marionettes whose actions are wholly explicable by the application of external forces. Indeed, it is the deist notion of the “Watchmaker” Creator (who wound up the mechanical universe and let it go — precluding His presence from that point) that is one of several flawed views of reality resulting from the notion of Newtonian “mechanism”.

A Digression on Worldviews that Animate the Pursuit of Knowledge and Truth

On the above point, while Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s criticisms of methodological naturalism are in some respects correct, in a broader sense he misses the mark a bit. It is, in fact, irrelevant whether “the actual practice and content of science” imposed by some reductionist scientists to poison the well for others: this does no violence to the nature and efficacy of methodological naturalism. [09] Partly as a result, Plantinga fell prey to supporting the misguided and failed project known as “Intelligent Design”. Interestingly, Plantinga himself correctly doubts whether the Intelligent Design movement is capable of achieving its goal, “The hallmark of intelligent design, however, is the claim that [the world is intelligently designed by God] can be shown scientifically; I’m dubious about that. [10] On the other hand and on a broader point, Plantinga is spot-on correct to hold there is no tension between religion and science, that the two go hand in hand, and that the actual conflict lies between naturalism and science. [11]

From another perspective, part of Plantinga’s main point is extremely important and quite correct. While the “practice” of the MESs might be procedurally separated from (and not directly reference) any a priori presuppositions, metaphysical principles, and/or religious commitments, these don’t just disappear. Indeed, Plantinga opens the door to a proper philosophical assessment of natural scientific approaches to the investigation of reality to the extent they rely on a priori commitments. In other words, it is not the scientific investigations that are necessarily questioned — rather, it is their commitments. On circularity grounds alone the natural sciences are not equipped to conduct such assessments (let alone spout unchallenged categorical assertions), nor should such a non-starter approach ever see the light of day. The commitments must be examined and critiqued philosophically and then either adopted or abandoned. Plantinga provides an example of a Christian commitment:

God is already and always intimately acting in nature, which depends from moment to moment for its existence upon immediate divine activity; there is not and could not be any such thing as [H]is intervening in nature.” [12]

This is brilliant. However, it must be understood that by “divine activity” Plantinga does not mean a physical efficient causality akin to a cosmic pool shark pushing cue balls around, which is most certainly not a Christian conception of reality. What is meant by “divine activity” is the wholly atemporal act of creation that constantly maintains in existence of all contingent beings accessible directly to human perception. (God does not “make” using existing material — He creates by “gifting” existence.) Indeed, God’s “activity” is ever-present and imparts contingent beings with their own natures (loci of their own unique actions) to act per their own natures. Put another way, without ever-present divine action there would be no existents; with divine action objects in the context of the world act on their own.

Indeed, this appears to be the reason Plantinga correctly doubts the soundness of Intelligent Design’s argument: no natural scientific investigation can say anything directly about God’s existence, attributes, actions, etc. Such knowledge can only be attained from two sources: (a) revealed knowledge reflected upon by solid metaphysical reasoning (e.g., the Trinitarian attributes of God and His relationship to us), and solid metaphysical reflection on sensory-accessible reality without an a priori faith commitment (e.g., the Existence of God). This also exposes Richard Dawkins’s ignorance and intellectual immaturity in the context of his failed attempts to refute Aquinas’s Five Ways [13]— choosing, instead, to critique a straw man. The Five Ways are metaphysical arguments that “gather” and depend upon observations of the real world (i.e., the natural sciences) to conclude metaphysically to the existence of Existence Itself. Dawkins misses or rejects this completely.

Of course, it cuts both ways: Plantinga’s own reformed evangelical worldview clearly influenced his philosophical reflections, including employing a take on the Calvinist theological notion of “total depravity” to argue for the existence of God. Plantinga is a very honest philosopher and he is most certainly open to charitable philosophical criticisms of his commitments. What Plantinga cannot do is to leave his theological commitments unexamined.

Back again to the other side of the two-edged sword: one can now understand, at least partly, what animates Hawking’s, Weinberg’s, Tyson’s, Dawkins’ and others’ derisions of philosophy: fear. They are not interested in subjecting their a priori commitments to rigorous philosophical analysis, so they embrace intellectual laziness by derisively rejecting philosophy as a serious human endeavor in the vain hope philosophy will fade away.

No matter Dawkins’ et al takes on the matter, the “battle” is a philosophical one — not one that artificially pits the natural sciences against philosophy and religious faith. The most fundamental difference between any two philosophical positions is always rooted in fundamental differences in a priori metaphysical commitments. Metaphysics is the division of philosophy that investigates the nature of reality. The natural sciences are much more narrowly focused: each particular natural science studies changeable beings under certain narrow aspects. Yet, each natural science contributes to the broader project of metaphysics to, for example, understand what change is in its widest throw — whether change is physical motion for physics or the change I undergo when I am moved by the beauty of my wife. For this reason, motion cannot be reduced merely to what is understood by physics expressed (one way) mathematically as v = ∂r/∂t.

This point can be made another way. Can one answer the question upon which our pursuit of knowledge of the world: “how and what can a human know about the sensory-accessible world external to him or her?” That question can only be addressed if one can answers the prior anthropological question, “what is a human being?” Expanding: is a human merely a fortunate cosmic accident in the form of a heap of chemicals that learned to wear clothes and make artifacts? Or, is man merely God in disguise? Or is man higher than the brutes but lower than the angels? What exactly does the Aristotelian definition mean, man is a rational animal? What exactly is meant by Boethius’s definition of a person as “an individual substance of a rational nature”?

Yet, those questions also depend on the prior metaphysical question “what is real?” or “what is?” or “what does it mean to exist?” If an immaterial soul (the Aristotelian form of a human being) does not exist, humans are simply reducible to material constituents… which has great implications for whether complex material existents can know anything. A mountain — roughly one million times the size and material complexity of a human being — knows nothing… so, size doesn’t matter? Can one validly ask, “how many kindergarten pupils in a room sum to the intelligence of Albert Einstein?” or is that a non-starter category error? On the other hand, if matter doesn’t exist then are immaterial entities the only existents? Is the universe itself, at bottom, wholly mathematical?

And, deeply “involved” in all these questions — metaphysical, anthropological, psychological (not to mention questions of ethics, politics, production of artifacts, etc.) is the bottom-line question of epistemology: “how can we know these things?” Indeed, how could anyone credibly limit questions about reality to only those things accessible to the modern empirical sciences?

The Natural Sciences and What Supports Them

To be clear from another perspective, the targets are also not the epistemic limitations of the modern empirical (natural) sciences (MESs) themselves. To be successful in their own context, the MESs must operate under the constraint that material objects and physical phenomena are the only things (in logic these are deemed “material objects”) accessible to them. However, based solely on those epistemic constraints, one cannot conclude that material objects and physical phenomena are the only existents.

The “formal objects” of (or “formal aspects” under which) the thin slices of reality investigated by the MESs must also be limited. For example, the formal object of physics is “non-living material objects in physical motion,” whereas its “material objects” are neutrinos, stars, objects on an incline, etc. Similarly, the formal object studied by biologists are “living (or once-living) things” while the material objects are specific living (or once-living) things, say, aardvarks or velociraptors.

In no way does methodological naturalism imply other modes of existence are impossible and inaccessible by other intellectual means. Neither does methodological naturalism undermine philosophy or religious faith. It simply is not equipped to do so. For example, physicists cannot, even in principle, study “order” or “causality” — even as physics results in remarkable knowledge that must be further reflected upon (philosophized upon) to broaden and deepen our understandings of order and causality. All the natural sciences presuppose reality is ordered, consistent, and predictable on the path to coming to understand physical phenomena. Simply put, order and causality are “objects” accessible neither to physics nor to any of the modern empirical sciences. They are not empirically accessible by their natures, but this does not imply we are incapable of reasoning about them based upon observational input from the MESs. This point is intentionally belabored because it echoes Aristotle’s brilliant principle: while all knowledge originates through our senses, not all knowledge is sensory knowledge. Yet, we moderns have the temerity to argue fallaciously (genetic fallacy and historicism) that a long-dead European white male has nothing to teach us.

Aristotle “The Philosopher” (384–322 BC)

To repeat: the natural sciences presuppose “order” and “causality” to do their good work (e.g., prediction and confirmation), but (metaphorically stated) one can never place “order” or “causality” on a lab bench to observe — let alone measure — their “properties”. Einstein was exceedingly good at this: he had a deep-seated faith that reality is not fundamentally chaotic and acausal, which is precisely why he saw further than the physicists of his age… that is, why he was a true genius. Einstein trusted the findings of science and he trusted the universe was profoundly ordered and knowable. Even if not an observant Jew, Einstein’s latent faith seems, at least partly, to have been the positive influence to support his view that reality is ordered. The following excerpt from the first paragraph of Yuval Levin’s The Tyranny of Reason addresses this point directly:

In the beginning, God created order… We value monotheism not for the fact that it offered answers, but rather for the fact that it offered one answer. The notion that beneath the erratic clamor and din of daily life there lays a single logic, a single course of truth and law, is the genuine uniqueness and the essence of monotheism. The idea that the universe, its physical existence and its moral laws, is entirely the work of a single God is what made Judaism different from the religions which preceded it, and what made it in time, and through its union with Greek thought in Christianity, fertile ground for the flowing of philosophy and science. [14]

The knowledge obtained by the particular (individual) natural sciences is limited because they all presuppose not just “order” and “causality” but other extra-scientific concepts and principles. These cannot be derived from any of the natural sciences for that would be circular. Moreover, the scientific method cannot validate its own ability to guide scientists to contingent truths about reality: it cannot be the epistemic arbiter of all knowledge — otherwise known as the unscientific pseudo-philosophy of scientism.

The perspective just offered is not based on the philosophy of science, whose formal object is the study of systems of reasoning about natural things — a material object of which is the “scientific method.” Rather, the perspective rests upon the philosophy of nature, whose formal object is the study of “changeable natural things” and the foundational principles upon which all the natural sciences depend. That is, the philosophy of science is the epistemic “arm” of the study of nature while the philosophy of nature is the ontological “arm”. One cannot emphasize the former at the expense of the latter, and neither can either one be used to undermine other non-empirical sciences. Unfortunately and more often than not, the natural sciences are seen pitting themselves in a war against other disciplines in a wholly artificial war for pride of “best form of knowledge,” which led one of my colleagues sadly to quip that as a result of this war there are two wounded casualties (science and religious faith) and one missing in action (philosophy of nature).

Examples of One Scientist’s Flawed and Pedantic Assertions

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the anti-philosophy “philosopher”

To whet the readers’ appetites, the second half of this article, perhaps provocatively but also as a segue to the second article, takes aim at some more of the careless assertions of the well-known astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. [15] There are many more such examples from a wide spectrum of natural scientists which are outside the immediate scope presented here and which would unduly exploit the reader’s patience. Perhaps their day will come in another article.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

This is logically incoherent — the assertion itself is not true. Why? First, propositions are true to the extent they accurately reflect reality, whereas arguments are productive of true and certain propositions (as conclusions) to the extent they are both valid (in their logical structure) and sound (in the veracity of the premises). That is, reasoned arguments cannot be characterized as true or false: they are either valid or — more profoundly — sound (demonstrated). Indeed, this grounding yields the proper definition of science: mediate intellectual knowledge obtained through demonstration (sometimes truncated to “knowledge through causes”). Science is neither a mere proposition (therefore, it cannot be characterized as “true”) nor is it a mere methodological process. Two notions flow from this — the first supporting the second:

(1) The natural (or modern empirical) sciences are not the only sciences — at the very least because to assert otherwise is itself unscientific. (Indeed, another problem with Tyson’s assertion is that it is demonstrably unscientific!) That there are other non-empirical sciences does not mean they are any less legitimate in their pursuit of contingent and certain truths.

(2) The natural sciences say nothing about the existence of existents other than material objects and physical phenomena. As noted above “order” and “causality” are manifest in the world and they are central to the ability for us to conduct natural scientific undertakings. Yet, they are not objects studied by the natural sciences. Justice also exists, otherwise, we would not be able to criticize the “cooking of results” recorded in a charlatan’s laboratory manual. But, we cannot study “justice” in a lab and subject it to experimentation.

While science is a method of investigation of the natural world. But it is far more than this. Science (ἐπιστήμη) in its widest throw is also one of several intellectual virtues: a good habit of the mind. It is adverbial because it is a “way” or a “how” one’s intellectual capacities are engaged and actualized. And, because of this, science is a striving for intellectual excellence. One does not merely “know” science — one lives it. Science is not a doctrine, let alone a collection of truths. If it were, it would be like a cult — which is what Tyson and others dangerously approach in the scientism animating their presuppositions.

Another problematic view Tyson invites regarding science (the unquestionable good of popularizing science notwithstanding) is that, for all intents and purposes, science can be digested as a series of tweets. Indeed, the title of Tyson’s book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, undermines the claim he is a “good storyteller. He is not. Tyson may be a good entertainer — and certainly a pedantic one [16], but entertainment is the hypocrisy of false knowledge that vice pays to virtue [17] — especially to the intellectual virtue of science. As one reviewer opined, “Who has the time to contemplate the stars and the planets anyway?” is a rhetorical form of intellectual laziness. Virtues — good habits — of which science is only one, are developed only after long, careful, hard, focused work.

In his book, Tyson betrays his own unscientific a priori commitments. For example, his careless claim “We’re all made of star stuff” is sophomoric in its incompleteness. Most certainly, humans are not reducible to what is described by the natural sciences, i.e., substances are not reducible to their material constituents. The following disarming exchange in C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader gets it right: “In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” “Even in your world, my son,” [replied Ramandu] “that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.”

Tyson’s stumbling about doesn’t stop. Consider the assertion, “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.” Is he speaking metaphorically, that is, unscientifically… or does he actually impute a moral imperative upon the universe — one it is not obligated to fulfill? The universe is not a rational agent, which means there can be no moral obligation in the first place. Leaving this aside, the universe does, in fact, make sense — even if not immediately to us because it is ordered (see Levin reference above). Among other things, Tyson fails to distinguish (a) the order of knowing from (b) the order of being (or existence): that we don’t know everything about the universe in no way implies the universe is either wholly or in part unknowable. Interestingly, this is a similar error (echoing a neo-Kantian perspective) into which interpreters of quantum mechanics fall: just because we are (currently) forced to rely on probabilistic mathematical formalisms to describe quantum mechanical phenomena does not imply the reality of the quantum mechanical world is itself probabilistic: an epistemic limitation does not impose ontological status. To channel Tyson, the universe is under no obligation to be fully understood by the limited epistemic tools of the natural sciences.

While we may not fully understand all aspects of the physical universe, the potential to be able to do so is undeniable: (1) we are rational agents who are capable of understanding (2) an ordered, consistent, and beautiful universe. (Note the Greek word for “cosmos” stems from considering the universe as a beautiful thing — it is the root of our word “cosmetic”.) Tyson’s opinion, in fact, has the potential to undermine science… for if he (as it appears) believes the universe, ahem, “need not” make sense to us, then why “do” science? Worse, if the universe makes no sense as such, then neither does Tyson’s own categorical assertion (a “part” of the universe) make sense — it is nonsense.

“I don’t want students… to have been taught anything they don’t understand, and that nobody yet understands, is divinely constructed and therefore beyond their intellectual capacity.”

This is bigoted and self-serving. Tyson’s ignorance of what religious faith’s relationship is to studying and understanding Creation is shocking, as least as it pertains to Judeo-Christian faith. There are two primary reasons Tyson gets away with this: (1) he’s a celebrity and therefore almost untouchable regarding criticisms of his opinions, (2) most folks don’t realize the depth of nuance required to parse such issues — demands far more than tweet-level responses. Indeed, the Judeo-Christian view is quite the opposite of Tyson’s intentional mischaracterization: it is precisely because the world is ordered by its very nature that it is knowable and understandable. Once he gets beyond the findings of astrophysics conveyed in strictly univocal language, Tyson often spouts such “senseless dogma” in support of personal unscientific presuppositions in a manner well-described by Yuval Levin, worth quoting at length:

The greatest enemy of wisdom is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge. Just as knowledge of the truth can liberate, so knowledge of a falsehood firmly held as true can make us slaves to senseless dogma. Again and again, through the spiraling story of history, man has imprisoned himself in imaginary cages of his own creation. Arrogant creeds disguised as knowledge and clothed in familiar language and form can lead us into darkness and convince us it is light. In the modern age, impressed by his own power and fully satiated by the partial answers it provides, man has fallen prey to just such an illusion. It is a dogma well suited to the style of the times, which presents itself in warm, kind, comforting words as a logical powerful answer to society’s problems. But speaking to us in the common vernacular of modernity, it has proven quite appealing, and become widely accepted.

The vernacular of the modern age is the language of the modern natural sciences, and the illusory dogma of modernity is based around a misapplication of its logic, and a gross misuse of its authority.” [18]

A calm yet powerful indictment, that.

“Within one linear centimeter of your lower colon there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) than all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world.”

This is another ignorant and unscientific assertion. Tyson passes a value judgment based on numbers and size but neglects to draw the most crucial distinction between bacteria (or, for that matter, any brute animal): bacteria are not rational agents; humans are rational agents. Rational agents do, in fact, “rule” the world, but not in the pejorative way Tyson would lead the reader to swallow.

Aristotle’s geocentric model of the universe

A follow-on assertion related to the above is, “The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us.” It should be lost on no one that Tyson criticizes the Ancient Greek geocentric notion that the earth is at the center of the universe as if the Greeks believed it was a “good” or “privileged” place to be. A moment’s reflection might have led Tyson to question why, if he personally interpreted the Greeks to hold the earth in such high esteem, the earth is only one step above Hades and well below the celestial spheres? Moreover, any careful and honest reading of Plato (hyperrealism notwithstanding) would reveal the human adventure is epic because we are to pursue the Forms and to return to them. It’s hard to believe Tyson has no idea of the importance of the sun for Plato in his cosmology, but more importantly for what it depicts in his epistemology: the highest Form — the Good Itself, that by which all else is known.

Indeed, the irony behind Tyson’s unfortunate assertions is that he fails his own test miserably, “If you want to assert a truth, first make sure it’s not just an opinion that you desperately want to be true.”

References

[00] Don Howard, “Albert Einstein as a Philosopher of Science,” Physics Today, 58:12, (01 December 2005): 34, https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.2169442#.

[01] Avi Loeb, “When Scientific Orthodoxy Resembles Religious Dogma,” Scientific American “Policy and Ethics Opinion,” (17 May 2021), https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-scientific-orthodoxy-resembles-religious-dogma/.

[02] Matthew Reisz, “Is Philosophy Dead?” Times Higher Education, (22 February 2015), https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/is-philosophy-dead/2018686.article#.

[03] Carlo Rovelli, “Physics Needs Philosophy / Philosophy Needs Physics,” Scientific American “Observations,” (18 July 2018), https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/physics-needs-philosophy-philosophy-needs-physics/)

[04] Steven Weinberg, “Sokal’s Hoax,” The New York Review of Books, Volume XLIII, №13, pp 11–15, (08 August 1996), https://physics.nyu.edu/sokal/weinberg.html. The entire quote is a prime example of philosophical ineptitude. One wonders whether Weinberg might offer us an empirical test to back up his assertion: could he demonstrate stubbing his toe on a “Law of Physics.”

[05] Rovelli, Ibid. Rovelli’s (and Loeb’s) articles ought to be required reading for every natural scientist.

[06] Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson, discussion and presentation “The Poetry of Science,” YouTube, (20 October 2010), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RExQFZzHXQ&t=3767s. See starting from 01:02:50.

[07] News, “Why Do Some Materialist Scientists Hate Philosophy?” Mind Matters, (09 May 2021), https://mindmatters.ai/2021/05/why-do-some-famous-materialist-scientists-hate-philosophy/.

[08] Tim Anderson, “Our Purpose May Pursue Us Through the Quantum Wavefunction,” Medium (16 May 2021), https://medium.com/the-infinite-universe/our-purpose-may-pursue-us-through-the-quantum-wavefunction-4c44110fccdd.

[09] See:

(a) Alvin Plantinga, “Methodological Naturalism,” Origins and Design 18 (1):18–27 (1997), https://philpapers.org/rec/PLAMN.

(b) Alvin Plantinga, Methodological Naturalism, Part II, Origins and Design 18 (2):22–34 (1997), https://philpapers.org/rec/PLAMNP

(c)Alvin Plantinga, “Methodological Naturalism?” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49 (September 1997): 143–154, https://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1997/PSCF9-97Plantinga.html.ori.

[10] Alvin Plantinga, “Evolution, Shibboleths, and Philosophers,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 April 2010.

[11] “Where the Conflict Really Lies,” exposition of Alvin Plantinga’s criticism of naturalism by the Center for Philosophy of Religion, https://www.plantingavideos.com/.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Gary Gutting, “Can We Prove that God Exists? Richard Dawkins and the Limits of Faith and Atheism,” Salon, excerpted from What Philosophy Can Do, (29 November 2015), https://www.salon.com/2015/11/29/can_we_prove_that_god_exists_richard_dawkins_and_the_limits_of_faith_and_atheism/. A simple Google search reveals Dawkins’s sophomoric attempt to refute the Five Ways was met with an avalanche of rightly deserved criticisms.

[14] Yuval Levin, The Tyranny of Reason, (Lantham, MD, University Press of America, 2001): 1.

[15] Jessica Orwig, “Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s best quotes may make you fall in love with science all over again,” Business Insider, 22 November 2015, https://www.businessinsider.com/15-inspirational-quotes-from-neil-degrasse-tyson-2015-11.

[16] Joe Berkowitz, “A Telescopic Look at Twitter’s Intergalactic Troll: Neil deGrasse Tyson,” Fast Company, March 2020, https://www.fastcompany.com/90473689/a-telescopic-look-at-twitters-intergalactic-troll-neil-degrasse-tyson.

[17] Massimo Pigliucci, “Neil deGrasse Tyson and the value of philosophy,” Scientia Salon blog, (12 May 2014), https://blog.apaonline.org/2020/10/22/no-matter-how-you-put-it-scientism-is-still-a-bad-idea/

[18] Yuval Levin, The Tyranny of Reason, “Introduction,” (Lantham, MD, University Press of America, 2001): xiii.

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Catholic, Aristotelian-Thomist, Ukrainian, nuclear engineer, physicist, philosopher of nature, husband, father, grandfather, teacher, classical music, athletics

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Alexander Sich

Alexander Sich

Catholic, Aristotelian-Thomist, Ukrainian, nuclear engineer, physicist, philosopher of nature, husband, father, grandfather, teacher, classical music, athletics

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