2 November 2004
I have a couple of science magazines at hand. One is the September edition of the venerable Scientific American, the other is the October issue of Wired, which tries its best to look cool (the word "cool" appears in this issue at least a dozen times).
The Scientific American is a special issue dedicated to Einstein. Reading it brought to mind the "Worry about Adam, not the atom" article I published here last summer. Although in the first decade of the 20th century Albert Einstein helped bring the basic concepts of the New Physics into the world, in the '20s and '30s, the boomtime of quantum mechanics, he became its most famous critic. Einstein, as he is so often quoted, could not believe that God plays dice with the universe. The Young Turks of the New Physics like Bohr and Heisenberg shrugged Einstein's complaints off as reactionary mysticism.
On page 70 is an article titled "Was Einstein Right?" which reports on the second thoughts some of today's physicists are having about Einstein's doubts about quantum mechanics. You know, if you want to go around telling people that modern science has disproved the Bhagavatam account of the atom, you will generate curiosity about just what it is in the atomic realm that modern science claims to have established as unarguable fact. If it turns about that scientists are still arguing about what is going on in the microworld of quantum events, then your posturing that you know something that other devotees don't about what atoms really are seems clownish.
Still, something is rotten in the state of quantumland, too. As Einstein was among the first to realize, quantum mechanics, too, is incomplete. It offers no reason why individual physical events happen, provides no way to get at an objects' intrinsic properties and has no compelling conceptual foundations. (pg. 71)
Just see. Those "objects" that quantum mechanics can't get at the properties of are the invisible units of matter: atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, and so on. What is then "proven" by science about atoms, pray tell?
In Srimad-Bhagavatam 2. 5. 3, Narada Muni prays to his father Lord Brahma:
My dear father, all this is known to you scientifically because whatever was created in the past, whatever will be created in the future, or whatever is being created at present, as well as everything within the universe, is within your grip, just like a walnut.
It is revealed here that Brahma has mastery over the creative function of time in its three phases of past, present and future. He knows what the future holds, but modern scientists don't. And that is why their theories are left begging for completeness.
Various physicists and philosophers have mused that quantum mechanics seems odd because we assume that only the past affects the present. What it the future did, too? Then the past probabilistic qualities of quantum theory could merely reflect our own ignorance of what is to come. (pg. 72)
In the last summer's article about atoms, I cited Srila Prabhupada as stating that atoms are ultimate units of time. Scientific American, in discussing the work of Mark Hadley of the University of Warwick, states:
He has also resurrected an idea that Einstein worked on in the 1930s: elementary particles are not objects sitting in spacetime but rather parts of spacetime itself, not lint clinging to the fabric but rather small knots in the fabric.
At the end of page 73, Scientific American admits that quantum mechanics is a theory of the universe, and theories of the universe are arbitrary. The dictionary defines arbitrary as "Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle. " In other words, theories are a different animal from reality.
On page 155, Wired starts an article about the latest challenge to Darwin's theory of evolution: the IDM or intelligent design movement. Written by Evan Ratliff, the tone of the piece is clearly pro-evolution. Still, the article leaves no doubt that evolutionists are most unhappy and not a little scared of ID. A box item gives time to George Gilder, described as a "technogeek guru" and a leader of the Discovery Institute, which promotes ID. I'm reproducing Gilder's words here (great stuff!):
Our high schools are among the worst performers per dollar in the world--especially in math and science. Our biology classes, in particular, espouse anti-industrial propaganda about global warming and the impact of DDT on the eggshells of eagles while telling just-so stories about the random progression from primordial soup to Britney Spears. In a self-refuting materialist superstition, teachers deny the role of ideas and purposes in evolution and hence implicitly in their own thought.
The Darwinist materialist paradigm, however, is about to face the same revolution that Newtonian physics faced 100 years ago. Just as physicists discovered that the atom was not a massy particle, as Newton believed, but a baffling quantum arena accessible only through mathematics, so too are biologists coming to understand that the cell is not a simple lump of protoplasm, as Charles Darwin believed. It's a complex information-processing machine comprising tens of thousands of proteins arranged in fabulously intricate algorithms of communication and synthesis. The human body contains some 60 trillion cells. Each one stores information in DNA codes, processes and replicates it in three forms of RNA and thousands of supporting enzymes, equisitely supplies the system with energy, and seals it in semipermeable phopholipid membranes. It is a process subject to the mathematical theory of information, which shows that even mutations occuring in cells at the gigahertz pace of a Pentium 4 and selected at the rate of a Google search couldn't beget the intricate interwoven fabric of structure and function of a human being in such a short amount of time. Natural selection should be taught for its important role in the adaption of species, but Darwinian materialism is an embarrassing cartoon of modern science.
What is the alternative? Intelligent design at least asks the right questions. In a world of science that still falls short of a rigorous theory of human consciousness or of the big bang, intelligent design theory begins by recognizing that everywhere in nature, information is hierarchical and preceds its embodiment. The concept precedes the concrete. The contrary notion that the world of mind, including science itself, bubbled up randomly from a prebiotic brew has inspired all the reductionist futilities of the 20th century, from Marx's obtuse materialism to environmental weather panic to zero-sum Malthusian fears over population. In biology classes, our students are not learning the largely mathematical facts of 21st century science; they're imbibing the consolations of a faith-driven 19th century materialist myth.
I'll have more to write about the ID movement. Stay tuned. . .