Why be blinded by science and materialism?


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That which materialism can't account for is the clue to what will supercede it


It is fairly common knowledge these days that the history of science can be viewed as a series of paradigm shifts or “scientific revolutions” in which each world view is toppled by (or superceded by) the next. Thomas Kuhn, in particular, popularized this view in his well-known book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Newtonian physics pre-twentieth century physics covered a lot of the data of ordinary experience (at least the physical aspects of it). What is perhaps of most interest to our present discussion is this: the few and rather “esoteric” facts that Newtonian physics could not account for such as a very tiny, but real, and unexplained deviation in the orbit of Mercury around the sun, from what Newtonian physics alone would predict that orbit to be are what eventually led to the toppling of that theory. When Einstein developed his theory of general relativity in 1915, one of the first things he did was to check what his theory predicted for the orbit of Mercury around the sun. To his delight, he discovered there was an exact match between general relativity’s predictions and the actual observed measurements.



 

Albert EinsteinNearly every great advance in science arises from a crisis in the old theory, through an endeavor to find a way out of the difficulties created. We must examine old ideas, old theories, although they belong to the past, for this is the only way to understand the importance of the new ones and the extent of their validity.

Albert Einstein
in Alice Calaprice (ed.), The Expanded Quotable Einstein

 


Here is another similar example drawn from recent science news:


 

Challenging the foundations of physics, researchers at the renowned Brookhaven National Laboratory said yesterday they had found a possible flaw in the reigning theory of how the universe works.

Using a stunningly precise magnetic field and some of the world's most accurate measuring equipment, the physicists showed that a subatomic particle called a muon behaved differently than expected under what is called ''the Standard Model.'' The Standard Model has become a kind of scientific gospel, explaining how all matter and energy interact, forming the basis of modern physics, and, to some degree, all of the physical sciences. Until yesterday's announcement, the Standard Model had withstood three decades of challenge.

“People have been looking for holes in the Standard Model since it was invented,” said Lee Roberts, a physicist at Boston University who has been involved with the muon project since 1984 and is a spokesman for the experiment. “This is the first signal that there might be something beyond.”

The work is the result of a cooperative venture of approximately 80 physicists from around the world, and the results have been submitted to the journal, Physics Review Letters. If the findings withstand the intense worldwide scrutiny sure to come, they would mark the beginning of 21st century physics, when speculative theories with names like “supersymmetry” and “string theory” can be tested in the lab.

“I find this very exciting,” said Gerald Gabrielse, chairman of Harvard's physics department and a specialist in high-energy physics. “The hope is that now we will be able to move to a deeper level of understanding for the ways that particles are arranged and behave.”

Gareth Cook, “Discovery on particle has physics world spinning”
Boston Globe, 2/9/01

 


Because this is the way coming paradigm shifts are presaged, it is worth taking a close look at those aspects of our experience that mainstream scientific materialism has not yet adequately accounted for. These include two fundamental facts of our existence:

  • the nature of human consciousness

  • the nature of human death (and human suffering)

 



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