Thursday, January 31, 2008

On Physics and Angels

Through Pharyngula today, I was reading up on the Florida debate about their new science standards. (See: Proposed science standards debated in fla.)

The "science standards" article contained a statement from David Campbell, one of the authors of the new standards, that I found interesting:

Campbell also stated, "Biology without evolution is like physics without movement, like chemistry without the periodic table. It's the glue that holds our subject together."

This immediately called to mind something that I learned in graduate school about the philosophy of 'eliminativism'.

Before Newton presented his laws of motion, one of the dominant theories was that things in motion tended to slow down unless something kept them moving. This is what we see in the real world. You push something across the floor, or even throw it through the air, and it slows down.

What is it that kept the planets moving across the sky?

Well, something had to be pushing them. Specifically, they were being pushed by angels.

Newton eliminated that idea - everything moves at a constant velocity in a straight line unless acted on by some force.

Biology needs an intelligent designer the way astronomy needs angels.

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