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Towards the end of the second scientific age?

Prof. Yuval Na'am compares the end of the scientific era in the Greek period that preceded the thousand years of the Middle Ages, to the current state of science defending itself against currents undermining it. The article was published in "A Place for Thought in the Cover" Issue 13 (January 2001), and is presented here with the permission of the author and the publication of Allied Scientific Press

The late Yuval Na'eman. Photo from his private collection
The late Yuval Neman. Photo from his private collection

Editor's introduction

In light of the recent attacks on science, we hereby bring an article by one of the few remaining thinking people in a country that is increasingly becoming a third world country.

The article was originally published on 1.1.2001 in writing when there was room for thought in the cover. The article was first published on the Hadaan website on 27/10/2002 and we are uploading it to the front page again for several reasons: First - the eightieth birthday of Yuval Neman. Second - the cuts that increased in the last two years in the higher education budget. Third - increasing education for mediocrity in Israel.

We recently published the article Fatal Damage to the Cultivation of Science by Zvi Paltiel from the Weizmann Institute, as well as an article by the editor of the website about the cuts in the intake of students at the Technion: "Damage to higher education. In light of these two articles, it is clear that the relevance of Prof. Neman's article is higher than ever.

Avi Blizovsky

And for the article itself:
Towards the end of the second scientific age?
By Yuval Neman

The greens, the holistics, the religions, the superstitions, the postmodernism and the demand for practicality cause the sterilization of science, and may bring us back to the dark ages of the Middle Ages

The first scientific era (550 BC - 450 AD):
The thousand years of the Greek system

I choose to define the concept of science as a worldview (weltanschauung) which assumes that it is possible to describe the set of phenomena that make up physical reality a full qualitative and quantitative description, based on a logical procedure of deriving conclusions from a limited number of axiomatic assumptions, and with mathematics serving as a main skeleton in the derivation procedure. Another assumption, independent of the above hypothesis, hypothesizes that the structure of that 'science' aimed at the knowledge of the physical world enables a process of construction by patching until it is fully covered. As mentioned, this is a separate hypothesis that assumes that the scientific sheet can be laid out in patches: to initially cover partial areas, each one separately and perform a gradual fusion of close patches, until full fusion and a complete coverage of the physical reality. In all periods there were those who assumed that 'science' as defined by the first hypothesis was bounded by various limitations, and that it could not encompass the full extent of reality - but it turned out that this is not the case. So far no 'fixed boundaries' have been discovered in any scientific field that cannot be crossed (with the exception of certain limitations due to quantum uncertainty). We will give some examples of the 'boundaries' that have been breached: the 'vitalists', for example, assumed that physics and chemistry could not encompass and explain the subject of life, the organism - until it turned out that the problem does not exist at all and on the contrary, molecular biology became a main tool for understanding the mechanisms of life... like them there are those who think That the subject of human cognition, consciousness, will be left outside the scientific description, a kind of projection of the traditional separation between body and soul and treating the soul as something that does not belong to the physical world. It turns out that this is not the way things are, and a physical and cybernetic ('hardware' and 'software') theory of cognition is weaving skin and sinews today.

The beginning of science

In its modern meaning, science was born in Greece, approximately in the middle of the sixth century BC.
One of the surviving passages from the thirty books of Democritus Ish Abdira, the originator of the idea of ​​atoms, contains a kind of definition of science, in the spirit of my formulation above... Activity of a 'scientific nature' did indeed exist long before that - in Egypt, Sumer and Akkad, India and China - as early as the third millennium BC the count; But it wasn't 'science' but a demand for utilitarian solutions - mainly in the context of agriculture and the seasons, or in commercial contexts and the like, or even in religious motivation (pagan and non-pagan). But when, inspired by the development of legislation in the Middle Ages (the Laws of Hammurabi, the Torah of Moses, etc.) this subject also reached Greece in the sixth century - and found its expression in the 'Laws of Solon' - it had a special resonance here, and an innovative idea was born - the possibility was raised that nature may also be subject to certain laws. Pythagoras of Samos (about 550 BC) promoted the mathematical aspects and mainly (but not only) geometry. Another example of clarifying the difference that started in Greece: already in Egypt they needed the ratio between the radius of the circle and its circumference, i.e. the 'pie'. In the Torah, this ratio is mentioned as equal to 3, an approximation that was sufficient for practical needs. The Egyptians used a more accurate value of 22/7, when the value was measured in drawn circles - while in Greece a proven theoretical way to calculate this number was developed - and with an approach that allows for an accurate calculation to any precision required (Archimedes calculated it with an accuracy of 7 digits after the decimal point).
The achievements of Greek science in the thousand years of its existence were tremendous. Pythagoras, who laid the mathematical foundations, followed by Archimedes, Euclid and Apollonius of Perga (these three lived in the third century BC) or Diophantus of Alexandria (fourth century AD) were among the greatest scientists and mathematicians who ever arose, and the mathematics they left behind - and especially geometry - created in addition For the modern world a model of how any science should be built and seen. Other branches of mathematics also made good progress, such as number theory: Pythagoras himself discovered the existence of the irrational numbers and proved that the root of 2 cannot be written as a quotient of two whole numbers. Also the well-known theorem, according to which 'there is no prime number that is the 'greatest'' (meaning that new prime numbers will always be found later in the series of integers) was proved by Pythagoras.
They have also done wonders in earth sciences and in understanding its environment. Artosthenes of Kearney (350rd century BC), who taught and studied in Alexandria, Egypt, measured the radius of the earth with an accuracy of half a percent and making beautiful use of what was learned about parallel lines in geometry. Hipparchus, who observed and taught at the academy on the island of Rhodes in the second century BC, measured the size of the moon and the distance to it with a brilliant procedure, with an accuracy of one percent. Heraklides (250 BC) understood and taught that it is not the dome of the sky that revolves around us every day of the day, but that it is the mother earth itself that rotates on an axis every day like a spinning top. Aristarchus (ca. XNUMX BC) proposed the model of the solar system with the sun at its center, as an explanation for the strange orbits of the planets as seen from here - predating Copernicus by almost two thousand years.
In physics - the contributions of Archimedes in mechanics, namely the laws of the lever (and angular momentum) and the force of buoyancy in a liquid - all are still valid today, without the need for updating; And as for the heat chapter and mechanics together, in the second century AD Hiron of Alexandria invented the steam engine - thereby predating Stephenson and Watt by seventeen hundred years...

The end of the first scientific age

The process of degeneration began at the end of the second century AD. The total volume of the population of the Greek academies around the Mediterranean then numbered approximately 500 people at any one time, the intellectual elite testified. With the spread of Christianity, and with it the ideas of social justice that came from the Judaism of the prophets - and with them also messianic ideas about the imminent 'end of the world' - a competing center of attraction for that intellectual elite was created - and the population of the academies began to decrease and dwindle.

Faith versus innocence

At the same time, in the fourth century - after Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire - another effect also began, the gradual takeover of some of the academies by the Christian element. Here the training was given by the writings of her friend (he is Philo) the Alexandrian, Philo, who lived in the first century AD, devoted all his efforts to one main goal, to the argument that there is no contradiction between the message found in the Bible on the one hand and the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. On the Jewish street this argument had no serious resonance, but for the Christians it was of decisive importance, since it constituted a permit for Christian penetration into the philosophical academies, which as a result began to become 'mixed'.
The result was extremely serious for the future of the science development boom. The combination between religion and science is logically invalid. Because religion is built on sacred principles that cannot be changed, while science is all a process of 'approximation' in the description of reality, which gradually improves - both in terms of the quantitative description and in the 'quality of the picture' - including the process of fusing the patches. Science occasionally makes a sharp turn. Such a turn is created, for example, when the 'refutation' thesis according to Popper is activated as required - indeed refuting the existing paradigm and building a replacement for it based on the new findings. For the same reasons, there is also a distinct difference between religion and science as far as the educational trends are concerned: in religion, people are educated to believe and exalt figures like Job, those who kept their faith even when all the practical criteria testified to terrible injustice and could be interpreted as the absence of God. In science, one is taught to have maximum skepticism, as well as to be ready to accept changes and conceptual revolutions. Mixing religion with science is a conceptual confusion that distorts the perception of the status of science.
The ending was tragic. In Alexandria in 415 AD, a woman, a mathematician named Hypatia, was at the head of the mathematical center [2]. Her success in maintaining a regular following aroused the jealousy of the bishop in charge of Egyptian Christians. The mob incited by him raped and lynched her and burned down the institution. At that time, only the Academy of Athens remained on the machine. This was closed by order of Justinian-Caesar in 529 AD, but from a creative point of view, the first scientific era already ended with the closing of the Academy of Alexandria.
Most of the written Greek scientific material that survived was saved thanks to the Persian sage Kummao (=name-tov) 'Anushirvan' (=the blessed one) who took in the last rector, Damascius (who was indeed a Damascene...) with seven other 'professors' and helped them establish a minor 'Academy' Baram Nahraim - an institution that managed to preserve most of the achievements of the first scientific era and provide continuing students. The Muslim conquest found an organized system. About one hundred and fifty years later, with the dynasty of successors to the Abbasid dynasty for power in Baghdad, they opened a branch for him in their palace ('the House of Wisdom'). In doing so, they even provoked their enemies, the descendants of their predecessor, the Umayya dynasty of suitors, who fled to Spain at the time and established a rival suitorship in Córdoba. Thus, an academy was established there that developed and attracted students including Jews and Christians, including those who later established some of the first universities in Europe (Montpellier in southern France and the Sorbonne in Paris, Cambridge and Oxford in England, Bologna and Padua in Italy, etc.).

A thousand years of stagnation

The preservation of the Greek material did help in the process of the restoration of science and its renewal in Western Europe between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. It is difficult to imagine how things would have developed if the material had not been found, and if it was necessary, for example, to go back and invent all of Euclid anew... however, the preservation of the Greek material did not prevent Total stasis lasting a thousand years! The renewal of the scientific 'swing' was delayed until the end of the fifteenth century when Copernicus brought Aristarchus' model back to the scientific discussion table, when the astronomer Tycho-Breha returned and measured everything anew, and when Kepler analyzed Tycho-Breha's observational material with a distinctly Pythagorean approach - finding missing parameters - dimension (Pythagoras found them in the relationships between wavelengths in neighboring octaves, in some musical instrument), and finding orders, identifying simple relationships. To all of this, Galileo added the Platonic conception of the void - in contrast to Aristotle who contradicted the concept because it seemed too abstract ("nature does not allow a vacuum") - and in this way invented the concept of inertia and the principle of persistence - and from there the path was already paved for Newton.

The Middle Ages and the contempt for the abstract

The name 'the Middle Ages' fully matches our criteria - that is, days that are between the first and the second era in science (although it is not clear what those who invented it meant). As mentioned above, already in the third century degeneration began, even before the academies were closed. Apart from the competition with Christianity, there was also an internal disease - the Aristotelian disease - Aristotle's presumptuous approach, that is, the attempt to provide answers to all problems. To this will be added later the dogmatic status from the religious point of view, when Aristotle's doctrine was recast as the scholastic dogma. In all of these there was a risk of the feeling of 'the end of science' - because everything is already solved and known.
Aristotle was an excellent scientist but with a 'practical' attitude that narrowed the field of action left for the creativity of researchers in future generations - and an attitude that implied that 'everything has already been done'. By distancing himself from the abstract and the 'impractical', he laid a minefield in his approach that ultimately spelled disaster for the physics of the solar system, which had flourished until then - thus even halting the further development of physics. Below is the account of the act.
According to Aristotle, and based on the 'principle of thrift' according to which 'nature chooses the most economical solution', since a straight line is the shortest path between two given points - and a circle is the shortest circumference around a given area, it is bound that the preferred paths of the heavenly bodies are straight lines or circles (this is true as a first approximation). About 400 years later, Hiron of Alexandria proved, based on the same principle of parsimony, that the angle of reflection in a mirror is equal to the angle of incidence.
In doing so, Aristotle did point out the need for what is called the theory of the 'calculus of variations' - including finding a maximum or minimum of a given function - and its physical application, a process whose first phase ended in the eighteenth century, when Maupertius proposed the definition of the 'action' function - according to which nature chooses in the solutions corresponding to its minimum. So far, everything is in Aristotle's favor. We will now examine the duty side.
In the second century AD, two prolific scholars worked in Alexandria: Ptolemy (Ptolemaeus) of Alexandria and Strabo. Both were concerned, among other things, with the description of the earth's surface. When they came to deal with the issues concerning the solar system, they returned to the geocentric model, in which everything revolves around the earth, which itself is at complete rest - because this is how Aristotle also acted; And because of Aristotle's position they decided to accept the principle that the movements are circular.
In all of these there was a great departure from the truth that Aristarchus had already noticed. Since the observations did not correspond to simple circular motion, Ptolemy did not rest until he found a solution with the help of introducing epicycles (smaller circles whose centers move along another circle). In this way, a general qualitative adjustment to the observations was more or less achieved, because the circle around the earth that described the movement of the sun (relative to the assumed earth) was also the circle on which the center of the circles on which all the planets move moved. Kinematically, it would have been a good approximation, had it not been for a very erroneous estimate of the distance to the Sun. The model was also too cumbersome to allow a diagnosis of the ellipticity of the movement, for example, which would have required the introduction of higher, and more artificial, orders. Dynamically, from the beginning there was a non-inertial system that prevented the development of the laws of gravity - just as the assumption that a vacuum could not exist and the limitation of friction in the fundamental laws prevented the understanding of inertia and Newton's second law.
The geographer Strabo also accepted Ptolemy's statement and added his efforts to the formation of the belief in epicycles.
All this was further sanctified by the church - and turned a distorted physical hypothesis into a religious dogma. There is no wonder in the fact that it took a thousand years to break free from that 'model hypothesis'.

The dangers that threaten the second scientific age

Science gradually returned to us in the sixteenth century. Elsewhere [3] I explained why the exit from the stagnation was made possible precisely then - and the part of two Jewish scientists and thinkers - Rabbi Levi ben Gershom in Avignon, the city of the Popes in the south of France in the 14th century, in the field of astronomy, and Rabbi Hesdai Karshaksh of Zaragoza in the kingdom of Argon in the east Spain in the field of metaphysics - who raised the miracle of the rebellion against the spiritual rule of Aristotle in the institutions of higher education and research in Europe. Today we are in the midst of the momentum of the second scientific age, and the thrust of achievements so far has completely changed the surface of the earth and its history.
If we examine even just the achievements of the twentieth century in any field we will see the extent of progress. In aviation, for example, the Wright brothers began the journey to El Al with an engine-driven facility - and at the end of the century, the number of airplane flights reaches one hundred million a year; And more: in 1957 the first Sputnik was launched into space, in 1969 man landed on the moon. The population of the earth increased from one billion to six billion, and on and on. Question: Did the momentum continue?
My examination revealed alarming signs for the most part, some of which are quite similar to those that overcame science and stifled it at the beginning of the Middle Ages, in the fifth-sixth century. Here are some of the signs: (1) the distortion in the philosophical attitude towards science, on the one hand, in the dogmatic direction as happened in Greece - and even, on the other hand, in the 'suspicion' of science in subjectivity, the suspicion spread by the post-modernist movement. (2) The feeling that the scientific path has been exhausted. (3) the focus on apparently useful science. (4) brain drain to competing fields. To these we can add categories that we did not encounter when discussing Greek science - although they may have operated there as well: (5) the hostility to science because of negative side-effects in this or that field of science. (6) power struggles between scientific communities in related but different fields. (7) Reluctance on the part of the governments to bear heavier expenses allocated to science.
We will now examine some of these signs:

Distortions in the philosophical attitude towards science
In Greek science, after drawing obviously incorrect conclusions from Philo's arguments, they began to treat science, little by little, as an explanation that is part of religion and religious dogma, and disappeared with the arrival of freedom. Something in this spirit happened in the new era even in Judaism, when the genius from Vilna Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo-Zalman called the Jews to study the sciences - a positive idea for himself - assuming that science complements the Torah. This is a dangerous point, because it alludes to the paradigmatic status of science, which would make it difficult to bring about changes and revolutions in it - in that case, it is possible that everything would return to the situation that prevailed before Galileo's trial, what's more, the science the genius was referring to was Aristotelian science. I guess the reason was that the Gara simply hadn't heard of Galileo and Newton. A period of about two hundred years, from the boycott of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza to the professorial appointment of the great mathematician Karl-Gustav Jacob Jacobi, was a period of disconnection between the Jews and science - in contrast to the Jewish Golden Age in Spain, where Jewish scientists were at the forefront of progress.
Since World War II, a similar distortion has appeared in its nature but in the opposite direction. Postmodern philosophy challenges science as an objective tool and claims that the scientist decides on his solutions according to his ideological taste. The approach is borrowed from the social 'sciences', where the process of gathering the facts and their scientific conclusions from the ocean of ideological arguments has not yet been completed. This facet of the 'science beam' was first brought to the attention of the scientific community in the natural sciences when the American physicist Alan Sockel performed his 'trick' and the echoes came. Sokel is a scientist who deceived the social science community when he wrote a pointless and meaningless article, using words and terms commonly used by postmodernists, and sent it for publication in a prestigious journal that did not carefully examine the text and did not notice the ruse. After publication [4] Sockel exposed the ruse and was vigorously attacked. However, he was also protected, among other things by my friend the physicist (Nobel laureate) Steven Weinberg [5].

On the other hand, Mia Beller, a philosopher of science from Jerusalem, [6] pointed to the responsibility of a number of physicists, and among the most senior, for the birth of the postmodern approach. This is about the days that followed the discovery and construction of quantum mechanics, mainly in connection with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Heisenberg himself initially raised the question of determinism and man's freedom of choice and published a hypothesis that explained the freedom of choice as arising from the quantum uncertainty and based on it - a hypothesis that was proven to be incorrect since most of the processes in the brain are at a level above the quantum level. On the other hand, Wolfgang Pauli, also one of the pioneers of quantum theory, looked for psychological connections, while consulting the psychologist Carl Jung... In any case - and regardless of the way in which the lesion penetrated, the status of science as representing objective facts has now been devalued.

The feeling as if the scientific way has exhausted itself.
This factor is extremely significant today and it stems from several sources. On the one hand - the words of great and less great scientists, but I have an enthusiastic opinion about the scientific way. I will give a few examples: In 1979 it seemed - partly under the influence of a preliminary algebraic analysis I conducted in 1976 of 'supergravity' - that in building that theory it would be possible (a) to build the missing quantum aspect of Einstein's theory of gravity, and ( b) Unify gravity with the 'Standard Model' theory which is supposed to describe all the rest of the elementary interactions in nature. Therefore, when Stephen Hawking was appointed at the University of Cambridge to the chair where Newton once held, he chose to call his lecture "The end of physics". Another example: in his fight for the completion of the construction of a giant accelerator in Texas (which was stopped based on the US Senate's decision to withdraw from the project, after two billion dollars had already been invested in it, out of an estimated expenditure of eight billion), Steven Weinberg published a popular book thanks to the science that was expected to result from the accelerator, and called it (with somewhat reduced pretension) "Dreams of a final theory" that is, 'Dreams about a final theory' (translated into Hebrew under the name 'Chazon ha-theoriya soifit') (7).
Focus on 'applied' science

This aspect appears in different forms. In an 'innocent and modest' approach, suggestions such as 'Isn't it time to stop teaching math?' After all, since there are computers today, they will do the job... I first came across such a proposal in an article in the weekend supplement of 'Haaretz' a few years ago[8]. The reporter interviewed many personalities and did not find any convincing arguments against the proposal. I responded in a letter to the editor in which I tried to explain why mathematical literacy is needed - and that we should not act as if we have reached the end of the road in science and will no longer need research and development... Interestingly, in March 2000, Claude Allegre, a geologist who was at the time the French Minister of Science, made the same suggestion. There the man was indeed forced to resign almost immediately, but for other reasons...

The US Senate's decision to stop the construction of the particle accelerator in Texas can be associated with the same context of 'focusing on applied science', but at the other end of the scale. The reasons given for the Senate's decision included the argument that no useful results should be expected from what will be produced with the help of that accelerator - and the expectations do not justify the heavy price... Weinberg's book was written against this exact reasoning. The same answer can be heard, and certainly has been heard, in connection with the construction of other accelerators, telescopes and other expensive experimental instruments. This approach began to stand out with the end of the Cold War: before that, no senator or member of Congress dared to make such proposals - in case the findings would nevertheless provide a basis for a technological achievement that would give an advantage to the B.R.H. and endanger the security of the United States. In the absence of a super enemy, the senator can now ignore this consideration...
brain drain
In recent years, there has been a rather steep decline in students entering subjects such as physics and mathematics (except for 'computer science'). About twenty years ago in the USA, the classes for the second and third degrees in these subjects were full of students, most of them Americans (with a particularly high percentage of Jews). Today there is hardly a single American in medicine, and the classes are full of students from the Far East. In Israel, the student population in those subjects decreased greatly - until the large immigration came from the U.S. and the classes were full again. A number of years have passed - and ex-BRI expatriates also began to abandon the sciences in favor of studying business administration or law... It can be assumed that this is how things will develop with regard to expatriates from the Far East in the US - and they will also flock to law and business administration. One way to combat the dire consequences is to enrich computer science curricula, where many flock because of the commercial successes of this industry.

Enmity to science

This hostile development comes mainly from the side of environmentalists, some of whom see science as the mother of all sins. The 'green' organizations fighting nuclear energy are especially aggressive in Europe. To these must be added the opponents of genetic engineering, the people who pity animals, etc. It is interesting that there are no such activists who worry about the greenhouse effect - which results from the burning of oil, coal, gasoline or gas in power plants and cars - it is precisely in this field that nuclear energy may represent the best chance of correcting the situation.

Doubts of the old variety
In addition to all of this, there is still - and perhaps will increase - stubborn opposition in both directions in the scientific theses. On the one hand - the conceptual revolutions that included non-intuitive and difficult aspects, such as the theories of relativity (mainly special), especially the relativity of time as well as the difficulties in understanding quantum mechanics. Back in 1968, at the time of the student revolt in Europe and the United States, claims arose from the demonstrators against the teaching of quantum mechanics 'which serves the bourgeoisie by hiding the truth from the workers'. Another and slightly different direction is the opposition to Darwin. More than 150 years after the presentation of the theory, and when his hypothesis has long since become a scientific iron sheep property, including confirmation by many experiments and a detailed understanding of the mechanism of natural selection - voices are still heard challenging the entire thesis. What is interesting and worrying is the identification of the camps from which the opponents come. It is not surprising that in a country like the USA, most of the countries of the South require teaching the 'two theories' at the same time - that is, evolution and Creationism, a 'proven' thesis that is also 'scientifically'. Indeed, the creationists found a way to explain the geological and other findings: it is assumed that the Creator created the universe so that it appears as if it was created ten billion years ago, although it was actually created 5760 years ago.
From this fundamentalist perspective it is not surprising that there would be opposition to evolution; But more surprising when the visitor is a scientist, mathematician or engineer (almost never a biologist). Thus, for example, David Berlinski in a series of articles in the respected magazine [9,10] Commentary. In his articles he uses the 'parable of the clock' that was put forward in the 18th century: if you were to find a clock, would you believe that such a mechanism could be created out of nothing at random, it is possible that 10 to the power of 28 atoms would arrange themselves randomly as a clock... This argument was already answered by the philosopher David Yom at the time , and today, when the mechanism of natural selection is abundant, the answer is easier, since the 'clock' was not created in a single event but in the gradual and imposed way in which the facts are determined. The geneticist Richard Dawkins did call one of his books 'The Blind Watchmaker', explaining the principles of biological evolution [11].
Indeed, it seems that the risks to the continuity of science are increasing. Recently a book appeared that made waves entitled 'The End of Science', by the scientific reporter John Horgan [12]. The book is very serious, and provides reasoning after reasoning to prove the thesis that science is indeed close to the end of its journey - while relying on interviews with important scientists. It is interesting, of course, how long the dying will last - in the meantime, I suggest that we wake up and protect the most beautiful and interesting of human creations. Let's be wise to the exterminators.

for further reading

1. See for example - J. Neman, 'The Victorious Inflationary Universe'
2. See M. Dzielska, Hypatia of Alexandria, Harvard UP (1995)
3. Y. Ne'eman, Pythagoreanism in Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics,
in Symmetry 2000, Wenner-Gren conference proc., T Laurent & I. Hargittai eds., Portland Press (2001)
4. AD Sokal, Transgressing the boundaries etc..
in Social Text, 5(1996), p.216
5. S. Weinberg, Sokal's hoax, New York Review of Books, 3 October 1996
6.M. Beller, The Sokal hoax: at whom are we laughing?
in Physics Today, Sept. 98.
7. S. Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, Pantheon, New York (1992)
8. Aviva Lori, 'Who Needs Math', in Haaretz from 5.1.96, weekend supplement.
9. D. Berlinski, The Deniable Darwin, in Commentary, June 1996;
10. D. Berlinski, Was there a Big Bang, in Commentary, February 1998
11. R. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford U. Press (1976)
12. J. Horgan, The End of Science, Addison Wesley p., Reading (1996)

20 תגובות

  1. pleasantness
    And I almost forgot - obviously science does not contradict the Torah.
    The Torah contradicts science!!!!! ….. starting from the first word

  2. pleasantness
    what are you talking about??? It is written in the commentary that on the first day God distinguished between day and night. Do you really think that Sabbath comes only after so and so billions of years??
    No billions of years and no shoes. The creation story is similar to other ancient creation stories. Enjoy a story and understand it however you want - just do yourself a favor and don't turn it into a science

  3. A Jew who appreciates Maimonides
    Maimonides was also a racist... or are we ignoring what is uncomfortable for us my friend???

  4. Michael, regarding the reference to Sage errors (probably) in science.
    It's irrelevant. Sages have authority in the interpretation of the Torah (including Parashat Beresheet, although there is also benefit in science)
    Their scientific knowledge comes (to the knowledge of many of the sages of Israel, for example Rabbi Ovadia, who I don't think is known as a particularly modern rabbi) from the science of their time/normal explanations and of their environment.
    Therefore, there are no scientific errors in their writings that show a lack of ability in interpreting the Torah

    The verses in Kings about forgetting the Torah refer to the general trend in the nation and not that all the people forgot until the last.

  5. It seems to me that it is more correct to say that reasons have arisen here that may cause a slowdown in scientific progress and perhaps a retreat in certain areas.
    The differences between today and Greek time are:
    A. That today science is invested in technology - you can't really give it up. It is possible to give up (perhaps) certain subfields (evolution mainly of the past, cosmology, etc.) and it is possible that these will have less influence than the little they influence today.
    B. Nowadays, knowledge (or at least a lot of it will be stored on a computer and can be distributed and saved easily - even a large crowd will have a hard time destroying the knowledge stores from every computer on the planet.

    By the way, the reference to the greens who oppose science but do not act against the greenhouse effect is wrong - green organizations certainly act against the emission of GHG.

  6. Yuval Na'am was himself a kind of religious person, who recognizes the danger to science today from religion.
    The right combination between a believer and a scientific researcher.

  7. Today, science and religion are in conflict with each other. The religious person in the abstract is no more religious than the real secular person.
    The religious believes that one should have complete trust and not doubt anything, and the secular believes that everything should be investigated - which is in my opinion
    The essence of religiosity.

    There is the secular majority that does not devote itself to researching everything, but that is their right. The same part is devoted to worship
    For the youth of the body and stronger egos.

  8. pleasantness:
    This is not ignorance.
    It's honesty.
    There are also religious people (a large part of them) who think that what is written in the Torah is the truth and no quibbles are necessary.
    Those who invent peppers are basically saying two things:
    1. God did not even know how to express himself intelligibly
    2. Either they are wiser than God and know better than him what he wanted to say or he revealed to them (and only them) what he really meant.

    They will of course reject the first possibility and in fact will claim that the oral Torah was given orally by God and passed down as it is to this day.

    To that end, they will of course have to ignore the direct contradiction of this claim with what is written in Kings XNUMX, which describes a time when no one in Israel knew anything about the laws of Judaism.

    But contradictions do not bother - neither you nor them.
    All you care about is adding more people to the collective madness.

    By the way: if you really want to rely on the words of the sages, then please tell me:
    Do lice form from human sweat?
    Are mice created from mold?
    Does the cow's trachea divide into three parts, one of which leads to the liver?

  9. Many people out of ignorance (both secular and religious) go against the stories of the Torah on the pretext that they are contrary to science.
    There are many references in the Sages to the effect that the days of creation are not ordinary days. For example - Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden on Friday after Eve conceived and gave birth to Cain and Abel...
    There is an opinion that says that Adam was created at the age of twenty and expelled at the age of 60 (on the sixth day...)
    It is clear from the simplicity of the scripture that these are not normal days, because the sun was only created on the fourth day...
    Yuval Naman was a great physicist, but his understanding of philosophy was rather weak.
    The phenomenon of life cannot be understood physically without anything to do with understanding the processes of life.
    The fact of our being experiences is not described by a physical process but occurs in a parallel way to it.
    No loyalist Yuval and no scientist can prove with mathematical-physical tools that there is someone other than him who felt any sensation.
    Our belief that the other person feels is a metaphysical belief.
    If the other person does not feel, good and bad have no meaning.
    This belief is the basis for a whole world of the study of good and evil (Torah) which is a metaphysical world for the above reason.
    Yuval Na'am in his analysis misses the main reason why science has stalled for about a thousand years -
    Algebra reached the Western world only in the 16th century
    It is she who allowed the continued development of mathematics and Newton's genius to flourish.
    I hope I helped a little to the confused people who think that science contradicts the Torah.
    Happy New Year!

  10. Hebrew years - the age of the world to the last creation and the counting of mankind - in the Bible, a day in the creation of the world is not a 24-hour day - it can be billions of earthly years...

    The reckoning is for the last creation and the reckoning of humanity and the society from which Judaism grew.

    The module for a Jew was and should be that of Maimonides - a believing Jew, a philosopher, a scientist, a researcher, and a doctor...

  11. If science was prosperous there would be no need for the science site. After all, the newspapers and the television and radio stations would have 5 scientific reporters for each media outlet.
    The very fact that this is not the case and there is a need for a site maintained by volunteers, proves that indeed the end of science is near.
    Although it is interesting to know how many of the inhabitants of ancient Greece were interested in science at the height of their empire.

  12. Fascinating article.

    All that remains is to hope that the hypothesis about the approaching end of science will be disproved - and of course to do our best for that.

  13. If this is the end of science, then the entire civilization known to humanity today will disappear: agricultural crops will decrease, electricity will not be produced, medicine will be able to manifest itself because there is no electricity, meaning the inability to produce medicines, operating rooms, all those resuscitation machines, etc. water in the taps. I am not talking about the world order. The fact that it does not seem that there is nowhere to advance does not mean that the knowledge should not be preserved. Preservation of knowledge is the first goal because failure to preserve knowledge will lead to its loss. And to restore the loss will take at least as many years as it took to find the same knowledge in the original.
    The disappearance of science does not seem to me.

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