Holding Paradigms Too Ptightly

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 3.01.29 PMWhen the ancient astronomer Ptolemy (100-175 AD) woke up every morning, the Sun was coming up in the east. As his day wore on, the Sun moved across the sky and set in the west. All the stars and planets followed suit. It was perfectly obvious to Ptolemy and his contemporaries that the Earth was the pivot point around which the rest of the cosmos revolved. Copernicus’s so-called “revolution” (so-called because it wasn’t really the revolution it’s been made out to be – but that’s a whole different story) stemmed from his claim that Ptolemy was mistaken and that the Earth actually revolved around the Sun. Later confirmation by Galileo proved the Copernican theory to be correct. But both Copernicus and Galileo were considered nutcases for challenging the “obvious,” expert-supported understanding of The Way Things Were. The idea that the Earth is the center of things was so ingrained in the minds of people it took a violent brain-shaking to overcome it.

I was reminded of the Ptolemy thing as I read a new book I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the topics discussed here – Benjamin Wiker & Jonathan Witt’s, A Meaningful World. The book is packed with scientific and historical insights about the abject failure of Naturalism/Materialism to account for the intricacy and wonder that exists in even the simplest forms of biological life. Their book is captivatingly successful in its mission to show “how the arts and sciences reveal the genius of nature,” but I particularly enjoyed the historical parallel they drew between previously accepted scientific “facts” and the presumptive acceptance of the Darwinist paradigm that pervades scientific inquiry today. Take phlogiston for instance.

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