To: betty boop; TXnMA; metmom; dirtboy
What an outstanding essay-post, dearest sister in Christ, and as usual so complete I have little to add!
Here we enter into the terrain of scientific cosmology. [The physicists and mathematicians are already there. So far the ones reluctant to join this party tend to be the evolutionary biologists.... To me, they are the "bitter clingers" of a decaying doctrine that would prefer to be sucked into a black hole than to live to see the coming paradigm shift in science.]
That paradigm shift will surely come because the physicists and mathematicians were invited to the table by the biologists themselves. (Much to their chagrin no doubt.)
I suspect the biologists presumed their invitees would follow the biologists' methodology of fitting new observations into established theory (dogma, in effect) - even if it must be kluged to fit. But to physicists science is all about the theory. And mathematicians require proof, not dogma.
As H.H. Pattee said:
Many biologists consider physical laws, artificial life, robotics, and even theoretical biology as largely irrelevant for their research. In the 1970s, a prominent molecular geneticist asked me, "Why do we need theory when we have all the facts?" At the time I dismissed the question as silly, as most physicists would. However, it is not as silly as the converse question, Why do we need facts when we have all the theories? These are actually interesting philosophical questions that show why trying to relate biology to physics is seldom of interest to biologists, even though it is of great interest to physicists. Questioning the importance of theory sounds eccentric to physicists for whom general theories is what physics is all about. Consequently, physicists, like the skeptics I mentioned above, are concerned when they learn facts of life that their theories do not appear capable of addressing. On the other hand, biologists, when they have the facts, need not worry about physical theories that neither address nor alter their facts. Ernst Mayr (1997) believes this difference is severe enough to separate physical and biological models: "Yes, biology is, like physics and chemistry, a science. But biology is not a science like physics and chemistry; it is rather an autonomous science on a par with the equally autonomous physical sciences."
The Physics of Symbols
Philosophers like Nagel are not inclined to blueprint fitting methodology either...
To: Alamo-Girl; TXnMA; metmom; dirtboy
"But biology is not a science like physics and chemistry; it is rather an autonomous science on a par with the equally autonomous physical sciences."
[quoting Ernst Mayr from Pattee here.]
I have wondered for some time now about the late, great Ernst Mayr's seeming insistence that biology is so separate from physics, that it needs to declare itself a "sovereign" discipline of the natural sciences, that at once requires all "intelligent" people to bend the knee to Darwinian evolutionary theory, while at the same time maintaining that Darwinian evolutionary theory isn't a straightjacket on human thought.
The late, great Mayr evidently did not consider possibilities other than evidence that can be gathered from direct observation, direct perception.
I wonder what he is perceiving now. R.I.P. Tricky problem there. I don't think he solved it. Much to his rue as I imagine.
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