Blinding You With Science
Fred Elphick, NCL 1981
By the time I finished reading James Brush's article in your October issue, my face was wreathed in smiles. I find it difficult to describe how cheerful it made me. The thought of LTP (Lunar Transient Phenomena) occurring at more than ninety separate sites in such a mysterious fashion filled me with glee, for this is a subject close to my heart. This prompts me to share some snippets collected from the Encyclopaedia of Ignorance (Editors R. Duncan and M. Weston-Smith, Pergamon Press, 1977) which confirm what Mr. Brush says about the attitudes of scientists.
BUT WHAT ABOUT FEATHERS?
Otto R. Frisch ("Why") notes that while teleological explanations (in terms of purpose e. g. claws to kill, wings to fly) are not accepted in physics, the majority of biologists agree that natural selection can account for purposeful design. Some, he admits, find it hard to imagine how the eye or brain could so develop. He appears to agree that this is stretching our credulity.
"But what about feathers? Even if a very unlikely mutation caused a reptile to have offspring with feathers instead of scales, what good would that do, without muscles to move them and a brain rebuilt to control those muscles?" (We nod our answer.) "We can only guess. But let me mention the electric eel. . ." Here, he attempts to show that even a feeble electric organ helps with navigation in muddy waters. By now we too are in obscurity.
He ends with a declaration of faith: "Much about the theory of evolution is still unknown; but I have no doubt that natural selection provides the justification for teleological answers." (emphasis added)
We must press on, agreeing with E. Tomlin ("Fallacies of Evolutionary Theory," p. 228) that "The truth is that evolution was an hypothesis which hardened into dogma before it had been thoroughly analyzed," only pausing to note that such things as the body's immune system, function of blood groups, sleep and dozens more are still totally inexplicable by science.
When we think of "the earths in the starry heaven," we should know what W. H. McCrea ("Origin of Earth, Moon and Planets") says. ". . . planets like ours associated with any other star like our sun would be utterly undetectable by any available means." There is a thought-provoking fact about our own solar system: were all the material of the solar system spread evenly through the volume of a sphere having a radius the distance of Neptune, the density would be less than a good terrestrial vacuum!
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BRAIN?
R. W. Sperry ("Problems Outstanding in the Evolution of Brain Function") states the problem with considerable power. (I paraphrase): We have to skip the beginning steps in the evolution of the human brain and pick up the story at the latter half of the age of hydrogen gas, bypassing the question of how the whole business began. Also, we skip quickly the problems of how electrons and protons were used to build bigger and better atoms, how atoms made molecules, how molecules compounded into replicating molecular complexes and eventually . . . the living cell. "It has always seemed improbable that even a whole brain cell has what it takes to sense, to perceive, to feel, or to think on its own."
So much for ignorance and improbability. May I close with an example that shows even seeing is not believing. Let me test you.
Would you believe that there are mirrors in the eyes of certain creatures? Yes, there are. They are convex in the middle, concave at the edges and wonderfully made, using multi-layered materials similar to those in modern TV cameras. The scallop thought of it first!
What is fascinating is the fact that because such a thing was considered impossible, it was not discovered even though the eye had been examined under the microscope and the scientist had seen his own eye reflected in it! (Scientific American, 12/78)
As Mr. Brush points out, scientists already believe that life on certain planets is impossible. We have reason to believe the opposite.