When I was in my youth, the world belonged to Aristotle as the father of hard-edged, logical, empirical science. Plato represented a view that the world of the senses is actually not real at all, but is just a reflection of a greatly different ultimate reality.


That was in the 1970's. A lot has happened since then in terms of our understanding of reality and it has implications for the relation of science and religion.


Christians like to say that science feels a need to explain everything and can't accept anything magical or miraculous. And yet today it is religion that insists on explaining everything (however absurd and childish their explanations).


Now it is science that offers us explanations for reality which seem magical and miraculous (M-theory, parallel dimensions, string theory, a multiplicity of strangely behaving subatomic particles, etc.). But science also accepts that it's better to admit ignorance than to believe something unprovable.


Modern science tells us that the world is not as it seems. Matter is mostly empty space, and not really solid at all! The entire universe was once very tiny. Even colors are not what we think they are: an orange is really every color other than orange, because the color we see is the color that the fruit couldn't absorb. We see orange because it is rejecting orange.


The world is a lot more like Plato envisioned it than the way Aristotle did.

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Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 10, 2011 at 6:57am

I was also raised when the world outlook was based on Aristotle and the ideals of perfection. We must also include the move from looking at gravity and motion as Newton saw it to the way Einstein’s relativity explain it a space-time having being warped by the mass of objects. Now we have new ways of looking at the world. It can be difficult for people who cannot think freely because of religious bias to be aware of this new world perspective or to fear it due to lack of knowledge.


Our universe is about 14 billion years old and the Earth about 5 billion. Life on Earth started about 3 billion years ago and was in the form of bacteria for most of that time. Homo sapiens evolved about 100,000 years ago. So for over 99.9999% of the history of life on Earth there were no humans. The percentage is even less when we consider that revealed religion is less than 3000 years old. The actual figure is so miniscule that it becomes irrelevant.


Our nearest star, the sun is 93 million miles away and its light takes 8 minutes to reach us. The next nearest star is 4.3 light years away i.e. it light takes over 2,200,000 minutes to reach us. There are billions of stars in our galaxy. There are billions of galaxies.


It is in the micro world where it gets even stranger. The diameter of the dot at the end of this sentence has about 10 million atoms in it. An atom is mainly 99.9999% empty space. So much so that that if were scaled up it the ratio of the size of the nucleus to the electron spinning around it would be like looking at a “moth in a cathedral”. So almost everything we see is empty space.


Modern Science can teach us how to look at the world from a different vantage point. Once we have the basic concepts in our minds we can create a new model of reality. It is not a matter of discarding or disrespecting the “old ways. We used to think using a religious model because we did not have the information. In its time there was nothing wrong in believing the world was flat because we did not know any better. Now we do. What is wrong is that so many people do because of religions. Religion held back scientific discovery for too long. Now we all have access to information. Goodbye religion, please get of the stage.

Comment by Unseen on August 10, 2011 at 11:48am

Well said, Reg.

Comment by Arcus on August 30, 2011 at 5:11pm

Have you read Taleb's critique of Plate by chance? He argues quite well against both Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy, and prefers a-platonicity driven by Mandelbrotian statistics.

Of course, I'm a sucker for anyone which has good objections against modern finance... though it renders my career in it quite futile :)


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