I think you need a double look at the development of science. On the one
hand, Einstein's relativity kept the results of Newton as the limiting
case. On the other hand, he incorporated the field theory derived from
Faraday and Maxwell, which is a radical change. What I know about the
development of science is that solid work remains solid, though the
theory may develop in unanticipated ways. As to Kuhn, I have never been
impressed by his notions. Folks who know the history of science tell me
that what happened and what he says "should" have happened are at odds.
On Sun, 5 Feb 2006 13:19:41 -0500 David Opderbeck <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This response apparently totally misinterprets the history of science.
Copernicus was not abandoned when Kepler refined the orbits and Newton
explained them. Newton wasn't lost when Einstein added a further
refinement. Fact is, Newton's equations are used in every space launch.
There are occasional goofs.
Perhaps you hold to the "science as incremental, linear progress" theory
of the history of science. I don't. I'm more of a Kuhnian. Regardless,
to say that Einstein was a "refinement" of Newton seems absurd. Einstein
was a revolution, one which we are only just barely beginning to
understand. And of course, never mind that Copernicus to Kepler to
Newton to Einstein happened only over the past 500 years. The pace of
discovery has accelerated exponentially and likely will continue to do
so. What we've learned in the past 500 years probably will seem like
child's play compared to what we'll learn in the next 500. To scientists
living 500 years from now, I have no doubt that we will look as naive as
the geocentrists who lived before Copernicus.
Matters have not progressed as simply with biology because the
developments are more recent and more complex.
Exactly. And again, it's only in the past 50 years or so that we've
really begun to understand the genetic basis of life. We only began a
sustained effort to sequence the human genome 13 years ago, and the
sequence has been complete only for two years. For most of the world's
organisms, we have no comparable sequence data, and our understanding
even of the human genome remains miniscule compared to the available
data. Step back from your limited horizons for a minute and think about
that: we've had only the most basic understanding of genetics for a tiny
fraction of human history, and we still only have a speck of an
understanding of quantum physics. To declare that "[t]he one thing
remaining is the origin of life" seems like the height of hubris to me.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not suggesting the neo-Darwinian synthesis is
wrong, nor am I advocating some sort of quacky YEC position. I'm only
suggesting that it's wise to remember how limited, frail, and stuck in
our times we human beings are.
Received on Sun Feb 5 14:03:35 2006
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