The question of questions for mankind—the
problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting
than any other—is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies
in nature and of his relations to the universe of things. Whence
our race has come; what are the limits of our power over nature, and
of nature's power over us; to what goal we are tending; are the
problems which present themselves anew and with undiminished
interest to every man born into the world.
-Thomas H. Huxley
We are all scientists. Life presents
us with one problem after another. Each day, we concern ourselves
with cause and effect. Each day, we speculate about the reasons for
the actions that surround us. We believe that certain actions
produce certain effects. Whenever we depend on finding a
relationship between cause and effect, we demonstrate belief in
causality. To the extent that we believe that causes must be real,
material aspects of the world, we profess the philosophy of
But there is an opposed philosophy,
belief that some effects may not have material causes. We are born
indeterminists, knowing little of the causes of effects. It is only
by interacting with the real world that we become determinists, in
essence, applying the scientific method to all aspects of existence.
As we grow, we discard ignorance based on superstition for knowledge
based on experience. The process necessarily involves a perpetual
conflict between these two ways of viewing the world; each person
and each society professes a philosophy containing elements of both.
Once again, the time has come to
examine determinism and indeterminism in a systematic way and to
choose wisely between them. The compromises with indeterminism that
scientists have concocted since the 19th century are
getting stale—they are becoming an impediment to progress.
Cosmologists have become cosmogonists, naively assuming
and unabashedly promulgating the ancient idea that the universe
itself had an origin, even though the creation of something from
nothing is a religious assumption, not a scientific one. Physicists
say that gravitation is due to the “curvature” of “spacetime”, but
we have trouble imagining how either of these could be. Chemists
claim that the universe is becoming more disordered each day,
implying that it will eventually end in chaos. Most of our citizens
are still enamored with occult beliefs ranging from the psychic to
the astrological. From a strictly scientific perspective, our
efforts to appease the religionists have borne strange fruit indeed.
To put science and philosophy back on
track, I propose a reopening of the debate between science and
religion, which I present here as the struggle between determinism
and indeterminism. To be gained from this new rift is a better
understanding of the necessarily elusive foundations upon which we
build our thought and interpret the external world. To be gained is
an improved, internally consistent, and scientific way of viewing
the world. Any step in this direction would help us control the
technology our culture has spawned.
Each new gadget usually comes with a
set of instructions or "philosophy" for its use. It would seem that
the modern, scientific world that we are building would require a
scientific philosophy for its safe operation. Yet according to
Victor Ferkiss, author of
Technological Man, “little evidence exists that any
scientific world view is taking over the integrating function in our
culture, or even that such a world view is commonly shared by those
who call themselves scientists.”
The reason for this state of affairs
is that the Scientific Worldview is determinism, but the philosophy
of our culture is overwhelmingly dominated by indeterminism. Despite
its great achievements in research and engineering, the scientific
enterprise remains too weak to defend itself against the pervasive
power of indeterminism.
Science does not develop in a vacuum.
It always reflects the culture from which it grows. That an
indeterministic theory such as the "Big Bang" theory of the origin
of the universe is taken seriously by most scientists, popularized
by the media, and accepted by most of the public, provides a clear
illustration of the reciprocal relationship between science and the
philosophy of the culture. A change in one produces a change in the
Science advances, not just by efforts
within the profession, but equally by the philosophical and
practical advances made by all members of society. You are part of
the environment in which science is performed. What you say and do
helps to construct the science as well as the society in which you
live. Regardless of your profession, your understanding of the
Scientific Worldview will aid in scientific discovery.
While much of what represents science
these days is little more than curious trivia, the Scientific
Worldview is not. Indeed, when problems mount and stress increases,
societies reexamine philosophy with a renewed fervor. First they
turn to the familiar indeterministic ways, but because those ways do
not, in the end, succeed for the great mass of humanity, they
eventually look to the philosophy of determinism. When push comes to
shove, when survival is at stake, the philosophy of indeterminism
fails us. Prayers do not stop bullets.
Scientists survive professionally by
determining cause and effect. They must be determinists, at least
within their specialties, or else they cease to be scientists. If
you believed that a certain effect had no material cause, then you
would not be motivated to look for a cause. You would then cease
being a scientist in that area of investigation.
Although scientists may be
determinists within their necessarily narrow specialties, they
receive little encouragement to be determinists outside them. For
scientists to extend publicly the principle of causality to the
point of universality they must risk being seen as foolhardy or
arrogant. There is also little agreement on just what determinism is
and in what way it could be said to be the exclusive basis for the
Scientific Worldview. Those who should know, the experts on the
philosophy of science, take care to avoid the label "determinist"
lest they be banished from academe.
Discovering the nature of the
Scientific Worldview is no easy task. It cannot be found by summing
all scientific specialties, or by polling scientists and averaging
the results. The Scientific Worldview, above all, must state its
beginning assumptions clearly and from there attempt a coherent
unification of the salient facts and a rigorous application of
determinism to the world as a whole. It would not be in agreement
with every interpretation advanced by every specialist. No
explication of it would be accepted by all scientists.
Throughout history, the idea that the
universe is governed strictly on deterministic principles reappears
embellished with a style and with facts reflecting the culture it
addresses. Each time, efforts are made to refute it. Eventually it
is suppressed, only to return stronger than before. Humanity today
appears to lie at the threshold of physical destruction. Its
survival will not be a miracle, but a result of the deterministic
actions we will take to forge a new unity among all peoples. The
time is ripe for a renaissance of determinism.
Two other world views previously
dominated scientific thought.
The first scientific world view,
Newtonian mechanics, provided a general, mathematical construct,
which despite its overwhelming success had a fatal flaw. It could
never be completely successful because it was macrocosmic, that is,
it overemphasized the outsides of things. Its preferred instrument
was the telescope. For Newtonians, the universe was macrocosmically
infinite, but microcosmically finite. Scientific theories based on
the Newtonian world view tended to be macrocosmic and fatalistic.
Darwin’s mechanism of evolution, for instance, became “natural
selection,” in which the environment dominated evolution and the
organism was seen as relatively helpless in the survival of the
fittest. Natural selection had little to say about why there was
anything to select from in the first place.
The second scientific world view,
systems theory, was a corrective reaction to Newtonian mechanics.
Modern systems theory invariably errs on the microcosmic side; it
overemphasizes the insides of things. It tends to stake out a
portion of the universe in the effort to study it to the exclusion
of all that surrounds it. Its preferred instrument is the
microscope. For systems theory the universe may be microcosmically
infinite, but macrocosmically finite. Scientific theories based on
systems theory tend to be microcosmic and solipsistic. Modern
astronomy, for instance, entertains the quintessential systems
theory, the Big Bang, in which the universe itself is seen as a
solitary system with nothing outside of itself. All it required was
the acceptance of Einstein’s absurd assumption of a 4th
dimension to satisfy those desperate to evade the infinite and all
its philosophical implications.
This book consists of five parts: It
states THE PHILOSOPHY and its historical development, posits THE
ASSUMPTIONS and their indeterministic alternatives, deduces THE
METHOD for viewing the world, develops THE ANALYSIS to criticize and
to advance theories of the universe, and demonstrates the practical
usefulness of explicit determinism in THE CONCLUSIONS.
Part One, THE PHILOSOPHY, considers
all philosophies as deterministic in certain aspects and
indeterministic in others. A brief sketch of the history of the
determinism-indeterminism conflict is presented here as a
progressive cycle of action and reaction. Only with new data and an
analysis in which we once again see determinism and indeterminism as
opposites can we continue to achieve significant advances in the
evolution of the continuum.
Part Two, THE ASSUMPTIONS, explains
why philosophical arguments seldom persuade the contenders to switch
sides: their arguments rest on opposed assumptions. One either
believes there are causes for a particular effect or one does not.
One either believes that the universe is infinite or one does not.
The basic assumptions of science are seldom made explicit in
scientific work. Frequently there are two versions of each: one
deterministic and the other indeterministic. The assumptions
elaborated upon in this part of the book meet two criteria: First,
is the assumption deterministic, that is, does it avoid a freewill
conclusion? Second, does it avoid contradicting other
deterministic assumptions and the data of modern science? The
resulting Ten Assumptions of Science (MATERIALISM
CAUSALITY, UNCERTAINTY, INSEPARABILITY, CONSERVATION,
COMPLEMENTARITY, IRREVERSIBILITY, INFINITY, RELATIVISM, and
INTERCONNECTION) are interrelated and consupponible that
is, it is logically possible for those who assume any one of them to
assume all the rest.
Part Three, THE METHOD, presents the
primary abstraction necessary for a coherent view of the world.
Instead of considering systems in isolation from the rest of the
universe in the usual way, this method insists on their
non-isolation. I begin by defining a microcosm as a portion of the
universe and redefining a macrocosm as that portion of the universe
outside of a particular microcosm. The univironment is that
combination of the microcosm and the macrocosm that is responsible
for the motion of the microcosm. This way of looking at things
amounts to a new philosophy—Univironmental Determinism—which is at
once the mechanism of evolution. Unlike natural selection and the
currently accepted theory, "neo-Darwinism," Univironmental
Determinism explicitly claims that evolution is the process
occurring at all times with respect to each electron, atom, cell,
organ, organism, species, ecosystem, planet, and galaxy. This
perspective stresses the space-time positions of microcosms as the
key to understanding evolution. In its practical form, the
philosophy of Univironmental Determinism guides univironmental
analysis, the human effort to produce testable predictions of the
motions of microcosms by considering the motions of matter within
their respective microcosms and macrocosms. It is through this
method that the world is analyzed in the remainder of the book.
Part Four, THE ANALYSIS, shows how
this approach can be used to evaluate current theories in cosmology,
biopoesis (the origin of life), biology, and sociology. I show, for
example, that the philosophical foundations of the currently popular
theory of the Big Bang origin of the universe are clearly
indeterministic. Being biased in its overemphasis on the microcosm,
the Big Bang theory is the archetype and culmination of "systems
philosophy," the scientific world view that has guided science since
the beginning of the 20th century. The argument predicts that the
rejection of the Big Bang theory and the establishment of its only
logical replacement, the Theory of the Infinite Universe, will both
require and produce a revolution both in science and philosophy.
Part Five, THE CONCLUSIONS, reviews
the implications of Univironmental Determinism, first, in debunking
a popular myth, and second, in exploring personal and social
philosophy. The Myth of Exceptionalism is the indeterministic
hypothesis that even if humanity did evolve from less complex
beings, things are different now; certain aspects of its existence
are no longer influenced by evolution. In relation to the current
debate between determinism and indeterminism, one's position on
exceptionalism is decisive. To reject the Myth of Exceptionalism is
to reject indeterminism.
The last chapter shows how
Univironmental Determinism confronts the doctrine of fatalism with
which determinism is so often confused. The case for Univironmental
Determinism as the Scientific Worldview is completed here and its
utility as a guide to personal and social action is demonstrated.
The Scientific Worldview not only helps us understand, but also
helps us participate in the great movements of the Social Microcosm
of which we are all important parts.
The Scientific Worldview is filled
with infinite richness and variety. No complete description of it
will ever be given. Nevertheless, a basic understanding of this
philosophy may be achieved through the specific aims of this book,
1. To present the framework or
skeleton upon which the Scientific Worldview can be built.
2. To argue that this framework must
necessarily begin with the concepts of the microcosm, the macrocosm,
and their relationships to each other.
3. To argue that the essentially
dialectical nature of the universe reduces to fundamental and
inseparable categories: matter and the motion of matter, concepts
that are expandable to include all things and all events.
4. To argue that we are all
scientists and to show how the scientific outlook derives from the
fundamental assumptions of the Scientific Worldview.
5. To describe and demonstrate the
rules for rejecting unscientific beliefs.
6. To give readers an overall
impression of the world and their place in it, how it can affect
them and how they can affect it.
Glenn, 2007, The Scientific Worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein:
Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 411 p.