[b-hebrew] Dan (was: Where Was Jacob's Ladder)& Scientific Methodology

belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr
Sun Nov 11 04:25:00 EST 2007

Dear Karl and Yitzhak,

without entering in the Biblic particularities of your dialogue, I  
would suggest a more careful use of the autority of "modern science".

It happens rather systematically in the history of science, since at  
least the last two centuries, that a particular scientific approach or  
metaphysical vision underlying and dominating "modern" science could  
be dramatically abandoned for a much more complex vision. Here is, for  
exemple, how Einstein characterized the revolutionary advent of new  
physics (new in HIS times, but now either already revolutionarized  
anew or going just at this moment through a painful and fruitful  
revolution, without knowning in advance where it will bring us):

«We must not be surprised, therefore, that, so to speak, all  
physicists of the last [19-th] century saw in classical mechanics a  
firm and final foundation for all physics, yes, indeed, for all  
natural science, and that they never grew tired in their attempts to  
base Maxwell?s theory of electromagnetism, which, in the meantime, was  
slowly beginning to win out, upon mechanics as well.»

(Albert Einstein, Autobiographical Notes, pp. 20-21, in : Paul Arthur  
Schilpp, editor, Albert Einstein : Philosopher-Scientist, Cambridge  
University Press, London, 1970.)

Einstein was too modest to tell that it was his relativity theory and  
the new quantum mechanics (to which he objected, for good and for bad)  
that have spelled the end of the mechanical universe.

It is also true that the evolution theory mentioned by Yitzhak as a  
paragon of modernity is hastily adapting herself to new data (Stephen  
Jay Gould, 2002. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Cambridge MA:  
Harvard University Press) or even questioned by many professionals, --  
and I do not mean Creationists and Interlligent Designists.

!!! Moderators: forgive me, please, this parenthesis on the  
methodology of science: it turns out too often that it is me who is  
rebuked after a modest and isolated intervention in a long discussion  
"not related directly" to b-hebrew.

> On Nov 11, 2007 4:02 AM, K Randolph wrote:
>> > .... If one's approach is that of modern science, ....
>> Which definition of "modern science"? The unanimous definition given
>> by physicists, biologists, chemists and other scientists from when I
>> was in college? Or the post-modern one?
> Dear Karl,
> "How often do I have to repeat..." that your definition as you provide it for
> various natural sciences above from when you were in college appears to
> depend on a misunderstanding of the biology, physics, etc. textbooks that
> you read.  We can debate how appropriate it is to use a definition from a
> book about a natural science for other sciences such as linguistics or
> biblical research.  But you yourself admit that in that biology textbook the
> definition given for science -- as you understand it, of course --   
> and the way
> evolution is described in that same textbook conflict and are inconsistent.
> Yet we know one of the books' authors viewed evolution as completely
> consistent with the definition of science.  You would rather assume that
> the author is inconsistent.  I think you just misunderstand the definition
> and are explicitly reading into the provided definition things that are not
> there.  Thus there is no unanimous definition vs. post-modern definition,
> there is only a definition you misunderstood vs. a definition you now
> understand.  It seems you adopt the definition of science in the natural
> sciences textbook only because you misunderstood it.
> Yitzhak Sapir
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Edward G. Belaga
Institut de Recherche en Mathématique Avancée
Universite Louis Pasteur
7, rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE
tel.: 333 90 24 02 35, FAX: 333 90 24 03 28
e-mail : edward.belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr

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