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Monday, December 19, 2005


It's a century since Einstein, using Max Planck's conjecture, propounded the special theory of relativity (1905). If the reactionaries fisated on opposing Darwin's theory of evolution--which they imagine they understand--actually had any grasp of intellectual history, they would recognize that Einstein's insights and discoveries constitute an even more complete refutation of all they believe. Even Einstein--like Planck himself--was unable imaginatively to accept the consequences of his own theory. The success of quantum theory equals the radical elimination of all supernatural explanation for the universe. So Darwin's discovery of the origin of differences in life forms--the origin of species--was only the first stage of the elimination of religion as an explanatory device. The relativity of time and motion was the second stage. The third stage is still underway, with the investigations of quantum theory and cosmology. A fourth stage has begun to emerge with discoveries in molecular biology, including DNA research and the human genome.

But allof these are stages in the elimination of religion and the consolations faith in the supernatural has so long afforded humans. Nietzsche--also just over a century ago--was among the first to recognize the way in which modern discoveries sabotage traditional beliefs. So the reactionaries are right to be afraid, but it's not just evolution that threatens their beliefe. Modernity threatens all traditional beliefs in the supernatural or divine. This is one of its most welcome aspects. For the absolutism of supernatural beliefs--especially the beliefs of the proselytizing religions, Christianity and Islam--and the defense of those beliefs, have been the occasion for most of the atrocities committed over human history, climaxing with fascism and terrorism...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello John

It seems to me that “spirituality” and “complementary medicine” pose and represent similar attempts at injecting the supernatural into science based methods of biomedical based practice (certainly aided by the placebo and autohypnosis phenomenon). I have friends so convinced of CM that they would take homeopathic remedies over Doxycycline for Lyme disease. I am constantly reminding students (Quantum Theory aside): “You can think anything, but it does not make it real."


9:39 AM  

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