Casti's new book (was Re: Reply to Carol Regehr)

Date: Wed Sep 06 2000 - 05:42:23 EDT

  • Next message: Lawrence Johnston: "(Fwd) Casti's new book (was Re: Reply to Carol Regehr)"

    In a message dated 8/31/2000 1:09:38 PM, writes:

    << Some years ago I read, and reviewed for PERSPECTIVES, John Casti's

    superb book, PARADIGMS LOST, 1989, in which he examines, as if in a

    court of law, the claim that "life arose out of natural physical

    processes taking place here on earth." While he found in favor

    of the claim "quickly and easily," I found myself, even with the

    "strawman arguments" then in vogue, notably those of ICR and the like,

    thinking more deeply about how to phrase the questions. >>


    I saw a review in _Nature_. (10 August 2000) of John Casti's latest book
    _Pardaigms Regained: A Further Exploration of the Mysteries of Modern
    Science_. In his 1989 book that you reviewed, he looked at the six Big
    Questions in popular science, according to the review. They are: The origin
    of life, the genetic determination of human behavior, the acquisition of
    human language, the design of artificial intelligence, and the existence of
    extraterrestrial intelligence, and of an observer-independent reality.

    The review continued: "Of the six 1989 verdicts, two are 'reversed', the
    first in rather vague terms, " ... the evidence has mounted considerably
    supporting the claim that genetic makeup causes a predisposition to various
    types of human social behaviors." {But how exactly does one measure "a
    predisposition", and what is the variation between different behaviors or
    among individuals?) For the second reversed verdict, the recent theories of
    decoherence and consistent histories justify the view of the existence of a
    single objective reality. Regarding the question of the terrestrial origin
    of life, the earlier affirmative verdict is upheld, but a different
    mechanism, the scenario of an RNA world, is now favored."

    Regarding the confirmation of "the existence of a single objective reality",
    I am reminded of the comment about the implications of the Big Bang made by
    Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute, and director of Mount
    Wilson observatory. He wrote, "For the scientist who has lived by his faith
    in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the
    mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls
    himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have
    been sitting there for centuries."

    The same can be said for the "existence of a single objective reality"
    substantiated by the "theories of decoherence and consistent histories". One
    can reasonably assert that the Bible, Judaism and Christianity have been
    asserting the existence of a single objective reality long before science
    existed. Indeed, according to Thomas Cahill (_The Gifts of the Jews_), the
    concept of history was first given by the Jews. The Judeo-Christian
    tradition has long preceded this particular affirmation that Casti claims for
    science, that reality and history truly exist.

    Perhaps since you reviewed Casti's first book you would be willing to review
    his second also.



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