Re: Evidence for "Big Bang Theory"

Yasha Hartberg (
17 May 1995 18:09:46 GMT

In article <>, (Gil
Hardwick) wrote:
> Either way you wish to tackle the beast, from the English capitalist
> (Wedgewood/Darwin family) or from the Marxist working class (Engels)
> perspective, the idea of a theory of evolution was propagated by the
> rising industrial classes in explicit repudiation of the theology of
> the established Church.
> And I must add persistently in repudiation of cultural anthropology,
> which is in itself a disinterested observer in the continuing exchange
> as such between these two "rival" narratives on human origins among
> very many others indeed.
> Evolutionary theory, further, is yet articulated in those terms, even
> to the extent of borrowing from the Church itself its own concept of
> linear time, and from cultural anthropology its discursive framework.
> Evolutionary Theory is tautological in the extreme. It yet remains in
> direct counterpoint to the corpus of Judea-Christian theology AND I
> must add to indigenous and agrarian cosmology within the context of
> world industrialist expansion.
> It appears nowhere else in human thought.
> In all cases finally, its supporting data has been presented only *a
> posteriori*; that is, the theory was developed long before sufficient
> data was available to support it, which is quite contrary to all the
> usual criteria for establishing discipline in scientific method.

Here, I must disagree with you. While it is true that a vast body of
evidence followed its initial proposal, Darwin based evolutionary theory
on an extensive and laborious set of initial observations. As such, it
was born of all the stuff shared by all other scientific theories,
developed from preliminary observations, tested against available
evidence, refined, and tested again. And while some presentations of
evolutionary theory are tautological, the many individual theories which
delve into the mechanism of natural selection are not. Some presentations
of the laws of thermodynamics could be said to be tautological yet they
are nevertheless extremely useful. I would also add that a posteriori
evidence is not all as unusual as you suggest. Indeed, the bulk of modern
theoretical physics is years ahead of the technology necessary to test
those theories.

> Admittedly were it capable of standing alone in any more substantial
> manner than we have experienced historically, I myself would be very
> interested in the idea myself. As it stands, it is simply not worth
> all the resources taken up pursuing it any further.
> Competition for resources? In the case of evolutionary theorists, most
> clearly claiming _material_ resources against Church estates (most
> noticably in providing salaries to support tenure for academics vis a
> vis the sustenance of priests) albeit as often laundered as taxation
> through State coffers, it has always been so.

And here in the United States at least, the Church seems to be taking back
some of its own, lobbying heavily to restrict research into areas it deems
immoral or contradictory to religious dogma. This competition creates an
adversarial atmosphere so it is hardly any wonder that zealots on both
sides seem a bit defensive.

> I do not argue at all for retaining said Church estates. Surely their
> dominance is as oppressive as any other. Only _intellectually_ do I
> continue to argue that assuming a process of human development, say
> along the lines proposed by Dawkins, is not at all incompatible with
> assuming an ultimately divine Creator. Nor is it incompatible with the
> vast corpus of OTHER cosmology and mythology which sustains the other
> populations similarly swallowed up by the advancing tide of mechanised
> industry. It is simply irrelevant.

Here, I completely agree with you. The vast majority of "unscientific"
cosmology has been of far greater value to human development and culture.
I see no reason why people should be asked to give up these aspects of
their ways of life in the wake of scientific progress. As you say, for
most people, it is simply irrelevant.

> I find it less a problem, I suggest therefore, were all the others to
> be simply ignored. That they are so actively denied, and scientific
> data on the present situation so systematically repudiated once again
> under the financial sponsorship of the military/industrial sector, as
> we see right here after the manner of Dr Bruce Scott for example, I
> do find a very big problem indeed.
> While this putative distinction between "science" and "religion" is
> being so propagated among institutionalised Westerners, out here in
> the field we have long been experiencing the forced appropriation of
> natural resources by people who individually do not even know how to
> even feed themselves, from just about everybody else!

And here, too, I think scientists have failed. On the one hand, we are
doing a very poor job of explaining ourselves. Few of us, I hope, are out
to deliberately undermine indigenous cultures or steal away religion, yet
many feel that is precisely what we are up to. On the other hand, we do
precious little to ensure that our theories aren't misinterpreted or
usurped from their original context to serve political and economic
agendas. Both of these aspects, I'm afraid, could make life very
difficult for science unless measures are taken. I am at a loss, however,
just what those measures should be.

> Do you see the difficulty yet? Taking the Evolutionary and Big Bang
> Theories both together; weighing up their evidence, analysing their
> discourses, observing the climate of viciousness and hostility in
> which they are pursued, and not least noting their common history and
> sociology, we arrive at a situation where the collective weight of
> evidence demonstrates plainly that we are simply not dealing with one
> another as peers, nor dealing impartially as colleagues in obtaining
> independently observable and verifiable facts; we are joining in a
> monumental resource fraud built upon the most elaborate of theories
> sustained by the most poverty stricken of scientifically admissable
> evidence.

And this is the heart of the problem, isn't it? While I disagree with
your assertion that these theories are supported by a paucity of evidence,
I cannot deny that they have been heavily abused and used to appropriate
the vast majority of the worlds natural resources for the sole support of
the affluent few. So where lies the role of the scientist in all this? I
certainly don't like to think that I am playing an active part in any
diabolic conspiracy. I have no secret political agenda in mind when I
propose to do research and I think the same could be said for the
scientific community as a whole. Yet time and time again, our theories
have been used to further political causes we never anticipated. But I
don't think I am deluding myself when I say that a great deal of good has
come from scientific research as well. So earnestly I ask, how can
balance be achieved?

Yasha Hartberg
Texas A&M University
"The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald's." Andy Warhol