Ep 436 – The Religion of Science? – Part 2

Panel Discussion

Posted January 18th, 2018

Randy, Glenn, John, Lindsay, and Matt conclude their discussion of Rupert Sheldrake’s 2012 “Banned Ted Talk” about the 10 dogmas of a Scientific Materialist Worldview.

Glenn

John

Matt

Randy

  • Søren Kongstad

    I think that Sheldrake is conflating different issues.
    It’s true that the meter is defined by the speed of light, and the second is defined by the properies of a specific atom.
    But the meter and the second has always been defined by some reference to nature – there is no a priori meter or second.
    We are actually frightfully good at measuring time. The clocks are very precise – so precise that we have to take the strength of gravity and acceleration into account.
    Likewise the measurements of C are extremely precise, with a very little error bar.
    The mete was originally defined as 1/10.000.000th of the distance between the north pole and the equator – since the earth is not very regular this was not very precise. So someone made a mete stick out a precious metal and said that this is the meter, and all measure sticks were meausered against this stick. But differences in temperature changes the length of the meter, and besides its hard to make an accurat translation between a meter stick kept in a cellear somewhere and the speed of light.
    So when we got real good at telling time, it became very easy to measure a small fragment of time. And since we theorie and measure the speed of light to be constant – we found that the error bar of meauring the speed of light was very small – we switched to using the speed of light to define the meter – because even with the errors in measuring the speed of light – the error bars are much smaller than measuring some piece of metal kept in a refrigerator!

    So given what we know about the universe both theoretically and empirically it makes sense to use the speed of light. That is part of science, to build on what have discovered so far, and what we can trust. The speed of light and the second are things we trust very much, so we use them as units of measurement for other stuff.

    Now the question “is the speed of light constant” is very interesting, but it is a different type of question . You can still examine that question – measure the distance light travels in one billionth of a second, put a mark on the track, and measure that again tomorrow – is there a difference grater than what would be expected, or are the differences not random when taken known factors in account? Then the speed of light might be varying, or time itself might be varying?

    Actually GPS is a system which constantly measures the length of a second, the gravity and the speed of light. If they fluctuate independently, then the clock on the satlites would get out of sync, or the measuring of your position on the earth would fall outside the known error bars.

    • Glenn

      Thanks Soren!

  • I’m with Hamer: Measure it in feet and it will be fine. Everyone knows that the metric system is the devil’s playground.

    Are we sure Lindsay isn’t just another of Heather’s vocal impersonations? You need to have them both on at the same time, though without video that might not prove anything. For all we know Heather can do Lindsay’s voice while drinking a glass of water.

    Seriously (sort of) Lindsay fits right in. Have her on as often as she can tolerate it.

  • Brad

    Randy’s discussion re: god being the ultimate scientist reminded my of my embarrassing BYU days. I figured that god needed to have a strong physics background to go with the biological sciences. He needed to specialize. I referred to him as the ‘ultimate biophysicist’!