Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Rise of Anti-Science

Western culture has had a lot of ups & downs over the centuries, but one of the anchors for it was the concept of a world of order:
1. consistency in natural law
2. Use of the scientific method
3. the logical pursuit of truth
4. peer review, critical thinking, & skepticism were a balance to 'science by decree'.

These concepts reached their heyday in post ww2 america. Engineers & scientific researchers leapfrogged advancement after advancement dazzling everyone with their ability to harness natural law as a tool.

But to some, these things were not seen as a harnessing of laws of physics, but a creative & almost godlike power. A mystique built up around the fields of engineering & science, & it was a magnet to young people when they pursued a career. The fields of technology were major draws in the middle of the last century in america. Breakthroughs in medicine, manufacturing, computers, & just about every part of human life has been positively affected by these technological advances, & families encouraged their children to be part of that growth & advancement of humanity.

The technological advances brought unprecedented prosperity & luxurious conditions for even the poorest in the nation. And as often has happened throughout history, with prosperity comes complacency & growing lethargy. Hard work loses its appeal, & easy living seems to be an easier route. Why work hard if you don't have to?

But as the culture has declined, so has the magnet for technology. Fewer & fewer american youth desire a career in science or engineering. Non productive elements of society have taken center stage. Sports, entertainment, celebrity worship, money shuffling.. these things are valued & esteemed over the mundane & difficult scientific disciplines.

Now, we are in a time of anti science. Social issues & cultural manipulation is taking place, of course claiming truth or science as a basis. But instead of open scrutiny, mandates. Instead of the scientific method, decree. Instead of logic & critical thinking, truth is declared & propaganda has become the new goal. Truth becomes what the establishment says, rather than something based on reason or facts. Critical thinking is not encouraged, just memorized dogma. History is not taught as dispassionate facts, but to mold a belief. Conclusions are presupposed, & memorized, instead of arrived at by research & thinking. THIS is the greatest failure of american education, which once was a beacon of classic liberal thought.. Now, it is just another state propaganda tool.

As the adoration of elitism grew, so did education transform as a classic liberal tool of enlightenment to a propaganda tool of indoctrination. At one time, critical thinking was emphasized, & 'liberal' meant an expansive, enlightened, open minded view of things.. a broader view of the nuances in thought, ideology, & critical thinking processes. Now, it is an indoctrination.. dogma is pounded into young people, so they do NOT think or consider alternatives, but have everything neatly defined for them, complete with demonizing any alternate views.

The result has been LESS thought, more dogma, & a subservient electorate. The concept of human liberty is redefined, & revisionist history is shoved down people's throats. Open, scientific method enquiry is squashed, while memorizing indoctrination is employed. The results are clear: Less educated citizenry.. no sense of history or continuity. Dogmatic view of life & simplistic solutions. Bumper sticker slogans, rather than nuanced discussions of issues. Stupidity running rampant, & hysteria valued over reason.

And like in the dark ages, the powers that be try to mandate truth by decree, instead of arriving at it through the scientific method. As a culture, we are moving away from a scientific view of the world, & into a faith based reality. 'Really smart people' make decrees about 'truth', & we are told to believe it.. don't question the experts or their handlers. Critical issues for us are not open to critique or examination, but we are indoctrinated from birth into state centered ideology. It is a giant step backward for humanity, as we surrender our minds to the puppet masters.

Historically, truth eventually overcomes those who suppress it because it inconveniences their agenda. But man has not changed, & his basic tendencies to use power & decrees to control people are still there. There are always various flavors of superstition intermingling in a culture. If one gains prominence, it can dictate the rules & the facts. Reason is suppressed, critical thinking condemned, & questioning authority is punished.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Eternity, from start to finish..

Eternity & infinity are abstract concepts that give us humans a difficult time. We see most things as beginning & ending.. almost everything in our lives has a start & a finish, including our own lives. But the concept of eternity has no beginning.. time drifts on from the past, with NO apparent start, & no explanation. Gurus, holy men, & philosophers have speculated & pontificated about eternity for as long as man has the capacity of thought. But we are no more closer to understanding it or grasping its meaning than when we first defined the term.

1. We have no awareness of eternity past. Eons passed before our brief existence.. Universe after universe could have come & gone, while we were yet unborn. Go back as far as you can imagine.. before any 'big bang', or creative action from a deity. Some theorize that the universe is expanding. How can this be? If matter has been simplifying & spreading out, how can it come together for any reason? Was there a 'beginning'.. a 'start' of matter? Matter is incredible. Life is irrational. All matter should have drifted to infinity in complete equilibrium.. stars burnt out eons ago, & the miracle of life not even a dream. The vastness of our universe is a tiny speck in the face of infinite space. How can there be matter? It is only a collection of infinitesimal, tiny space particles.

2. The existence of an 'Eternal soul' is just as disturbing as if there is not a soul. How is it even possible that life should exist, or that our minds could even grasp things like eternity? Eternity past went on without us.. it can easily go on for eternity future, & our existence a meaningless blip in the face of time. We are a collection of matter & molecules, with a mysterious mechanism giving us life. Mixed in with that is the ability to grasp abstract thoughts, like eternity, & our existence is amazing. Whether we cease to exist at death, or go on in some mysterious supernatural state, the mere ability to see those possibilities is troubling. We went from eternal nothingness, to a brief awareness. And now we try to make sense of our existence. It is no wonder there are so many religions, philosophies, theories, & abstract reasonings to explain ourselves. Our existence is amazing & unbelievable.. impossible, really, yet here we are.

3. Existence is terrifying, non existence is worse. As humans age, we become tired of life.. at least many of us do. How can we face the idea of eternal existence? As terrifying as non-existence is, eternal existence is equally disturbing. Soul or not, our future is grim & mysterious. Will we drift through eternal time & space with some kind of awareness, linked to other souls, or deities? Or will we simply cease to exist, like we did for eternity past?

4. Some people seem to be mad at god &/or the universe, throwing tantrums because they exist. Man is not comfortable with his existence, but needs an explanation. There is a 'why' that gnaws at us, that no other life forms or matter seem to have. This angst is an awareness of eternity, & it's awful implications. If there is a god involved in our existence, we do not know why, or have a definitive reason. He has shrouded the explanation & himself in mystery. Holy men, witch doctors, philosophers, & spiritual gurus speculate, but we do not really know. The universe is awful, terrifying, & too vast for our finite minds to grasp. So we either cling to someone else's explanation, or avoid the subject, living in denial about our eternal fate. If there is no god, our tantrums for understanding fall on eternal darkness, devoid of any reason or meaning. God or not, the universe is terrifying.

5. If there is not a god or some kind of supernatural power, life is short & pointless. If there is a god, it is short & uncertain, & we still do not know why we exist. It may still be pointless, & our existence just as fleeting. We live. We die. The universe goes on until all the stars burn out in eternal darkness & silence. Or, if there is some kind of divine order, we don't know what it is.. even a vague definition of heaven or hell is only a blurry glimpse into something we do not have the capacity to understand.

When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover. Solomon c. 1000BC