Field of Science

Facts you must learn

In a little blog post about the reluctance to let go of superstition and face up to reality, physicist Sean Carroll laments the fact that most educated people do not appreciate some grand scientific findings.
Astrology does not work; there is no such thing as telekinesis; quantum mechanics does not tell you that you can change reality just by thinking about it. There is no life after death; there’s no spiritual essence that can preserve a human consciousness outside its physical body. Life is a chemical reaction; there is no moment at conception or otherwise when a soul is implanted in a body. We evolved as a result of natural processes over the history of the Earth; there is no supernatural intelligence that created us and maintains an interest in our behavior. There is no Natural Law that specifies how human beings should live, including who they should marry. There is no strong conception of free will, in the sense that we are laws unto ourselves over and above the laws of nature. The world follows rules, and we are part of the world.
On one level (the one Sean means) I agree with all of the above, but on another I would argue that
  • Astrology works to provide a platform for talking about oneself in a setting where other people are willing to listen, and it works to put money in the pockets of frauds.
  • There is such a thing a telekinesis. I practice it myself. I haven't actually gotten it to work yet, but I try hard.
  • Quantum physics tell different people different things. Personally, I need people like Sean to tell me what it says, but other people listen to Deepak Chopra, curiously.
  • There is life after death. My life after yours. My children's after mine.
  • It may be that our personalities/consciousness could be uploaded to a computer, but otherwise no spirits beyond the drinkable ones.
  • Soul. Okay, there is just no freakin' soul.
  • There is certainly no evidence of any supernatural being who cares. But that is the same thing.
  • If there was a natural law that dictates how we must behave then why can we break it? Then why must other people guard that law?
  • There is no free will, because there is no you. When I was a child we often said, "if I were you I'd do something different", but I thought that if you were me, then you'd be me in everything, and you'd do the same as me, and that in a sense, you are me. The you is the everything.

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