The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In the Beginning...

Though this is a literary blog (mostly), I do have an interest in science. In fact, if I were better at math, I probably would have gone into astronomy, perhaps the most fascinating enterprise along with neurology.

There is one thing about science/scientists that bothers me, especially the mainstream variety (i.e., what is passed off as science to the public). My two pet peeves concern evolution and the big bang theory. Before continuing, I must insist that I am in no way shape or form a Bible thumper: I am not a religious man, but do consider myself a Deist in the loose sense.

Many well known scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, berate and denounce religion in all its forms, and claim that science is the only answer to everything. Perhaps one day science will explain everything, but this is a very narrow and what I will call a "chronocentric" view, that is, the view that the science of one's day is correct. We derogate and laugh at the science of those even as recent as one hundred years ago. What's to say that a century from now, more advanced humans will not look back on our time and shake their heads in disbelief?

But this is besides the point. On to the specifics.

I argue that in some cases, certain scientific theories or truths are just as religious as beliefs held by Bible thumpers. First case, evolution. Maybe one day evolution will be proven, but people tend to forget that at present, it is just a theory. In fact, some scientists have confessed that the theory is based on scanty evidence. There is also a notable and embarrassing lack of "transitional" evidence for it. We have seen what is known as "mirco-evolution," that is, evolution on a small scale within species. We have yet to "see" evolution on a larger scale (macro-evolution).

Again, I don't believe in Adam and Eve, and what really bemuses me are Bible thumpers who claim the earth was created in 4004 BCE. Obviously, the Earth is much older than that. What makes no sense about this date, despite the fact that it simply isn't true, is that you will find it nowhere in the Bible!! The date was "calculated" by Bishop Ussher, a 17th century Irish ecclesiastical figure.

Next up, the Big Bang. Personally, I think the Big Bang is one of the biggest scientific hoaxes ever. The theory as we have it actually contradicts known physical laws, such as the law of angular momentum. Not only that, but scientists cannot even agree on the basics: some say the universe is expanding (and thus the big bang was true), while others claim that it is in fact contracting. Although fewer scientists believe this now than thirty years ago, it is still passed off as unimpeachable fact (any documentary or visit to a science centre, like the one in Toronto, will demonstrate this).

For this reason, I agree with creationists to a point: alternative theories should be taught in school. I don't agree that the creation story in the Bible should be taught (even if it were, what's the harm in that? As long as it is taught alongside other cultural creation stories). But what of other scientific theories? Who has ever heard of the steady state theory of the universe? It is not popular, and is in fact more recent than the Big Bang theory

To conclude, I say to those people such as Richard Dawkins: don't get cocky. Some of the hard science you speak of is not "hard" at all. Such science requires a leap of faith, although admittedly, not as great as that required in religion.

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