Scientists’ Reluctance to Adopt the Conclusions of Their Own Findings Has Had Many Dire Consequences, “Not the Least of Which Is the Environmental Crisis.”14/06/2013 14:43
Guest Post by Michael Adzema
“Science Itself Has Now Superseded the Mechanistic World View”: Science As Myth, Part Three — Dire Consequences of Scientists’ Closed-Mindedness
Scientists are understandably threatened by such an assault on the foundations of their beliefs, work, and dearly bought academic indoctrination.
“The same scientific priesthood, for a price, continues to supply those institutions with the knowledge and technological equipment by which they sustain their power.” – Robert Lawlor
Dire Consequences of Scientists’ Closed-Mindedness
Biologist, natural scientist, and philosopher Rupert Sheldrake (1991) also describes this radical disassociation between the day-to-day approach and workings of the common scientist and their best understandings of the nature of the phenomena they study. And he explains why this dissociation might occur:
Although science is now superseding the mechanistic world view, the mechanistic theory of nature has shaped the modern world, underlies the ideology of technological progress, and is still the official orthodoxy of science. (p. 17)
And furthermore about this reluctance to change: “It has had many consequences, not the least of which is the environmental crisis” (p. 17).
Robert Lawlor (1991), from his cross-cultural perspective, echoes this perception of scientists and their innate conservatism in the face of their own contrary findings:
Despite the advances in relativity and quantum theory, scientists still expect to view a world in which things are exactly as they appear to be, discrete and unperturbed by the subjective depths of the mind from which our very perceptions and rational intellect emerge. (p. 33)
And further on:
Meanwhile, the old thought patterns and linguistic practices, along with the social, political, military, economic, and medical institutions based on Aristotle, Descartes, and Newton go rolling along. Furthermore, the same scientific priesthood, for a price, continues to supply those institutions with the knowledge and technological equipment by which they sustain their power. (p. 34)
The Revolutionary Import
And yet, the implications of these empirically-rooted, experimentally reproducible discoveries about the Reality which we share are profoundly important and influential in that they affect the very foundations upon which the rest of science’s other findings, discoveries, and theories are built.
Rupert Sheldrake (1991) points out that the findings of science have overturned all of science’s original premises. First he lists nine “essential features of the mechanistic world view”:
- Nature is inanimate
- Inert atoms of matter
- Determinate, predictable
- Universe a machine
- Earth dead
- No internal purposes
- No creativity
- Eternal laws (p. 17)
You will notice how many of these aspects of the mechanistic worldview overlap with what is normally called “materialism.” At any rate, Sheldrake (1991) then states, and goes on to demonstrate, that “every one of those essential claims has been refuted by advances of science. In effect, science itself has now superseded the mechanistic world view.” (p. 17)
Despite scientists’ reluctance to face the implications of their discoveries and instead to cling to the familiar, it is our duty to shed popular or convenient positions when they are contradicted by the evidence … or else we should give up our scientific endeavor’s claim to be a truthful one. In so doing, Sheldrake’s (1991) conclusion is that
[T]he modern changes in science have effectively transcended each of these features. These changes in science have not happened as part of a coordinated research programme designed to overthrow the mechanistic paradigm. They have happened in specialized areas, seemingly unconnected with each other, and often without any consciousness that this was leading to a change in the overall world view of science. What I am going to suggest is that we can now see that this has effectively refuted the mechanistic world view within the very heart of science itself. (p. 18)
But let us just now take one specific example. Let us consider the example of Darwinian evolution. This theory of evolution and natural selection is so widely accepted that it is hard to find an alternative explanation of these processes even presented, let alone discussed, in the textbooks of natural science. And yet there have been those in the past. The Lamarckian explanation is one of them. Emanationism is another.
Debunking Neo-Darwinism and the Reemergence of Lamarck
For our purposes now, I wish to simply demonstrate how it is that science’s current discoveries can be said to overthrow so much of what is considered established in evolution. Rupert Sheldrake gives us a good example of that in his explaining that, in his opinion, based on the evidence for morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields, genes are actually a small part, perhaps even an inessential part of the process of evolution. He writes,
At each of these levels there is an organizing field containing an inherent memory, called a morphic field. And the basis of this memory is a process I call morphic resonance, the influence of like upon like. So each baby giraffe, as it grows, tunes in to the experience of all previous giraffes, through morphic resonance. It taps into a kind of collective pooled memory of the species, and in turn contributes to it. This applies, according to this hypothesis, to all animals and plants and people and also to crystals and molecules and planetary systems. It operates at all levels of nature. (Sheldrake, 1991, p. 33)
And further on:
This leads to a new interpretation of heredity and evolution. Heredity depends both on genetic inheritance (chemical genes made up of DNA) and also on morphic resonance from past members of the species. In relation to form and behavior, I think that morphic resonance is much the most important component. I am suggesting, in other words, that genes are grossly overrated. (p. 35)
Furthermore: “morphic resonance permits a more rapid evolution than the standard neo-Darwinian theory, based on random mutation and natural selection. . . .” (p. 35).
Thus, all of our elaborate theorizing about genetic factors in evolution are, by the evidence of morphogenetic fields, put in a questionable category. The implications of Sheldrake’s theory are no less than that what scientists normally consider to be the causative factors in both heredity and evolution are in fact either only a small, but not very influential, however measurable, aspect of such factors — like the veritable observable tip of a much more expansive iceberg — or that they are totally unrelated to the actual causative factors of such processes. In either case, scientists are understandably threatened by such an assault on the foundations of their beliefs, work, and dearly bought academic indoctrination. To paraphrase a joke, it is a morphogenetic night out, and the scientists are nervous.
Furthermore, Sheldrake’s theory gives rise to a conception of evolution — one that scientists have been taught to discredit, one which scientists have learned to smugly position themselves above, to pooh-pooh and snicker at. This alternative theory is the Lamarckian view of evolution….
Experiments testing the theory of morphogenetic fields have been reported in a number of places, including New Sense Bulletin, Noetic Sciences Bulletin, and of course Sheldrake’s own works and presentations.
More From Michael Adzema:
Biology as Metaphor and Mythology, Part One: “The Map Is Not the Territory” and Biological Phases As Levels of Consciousness