Part 3: Proposition 7 and Proposition 8
Proposition 7. The hostility of the two camps is heightened if anything by a constant going and coming between them, as pious youth desert to the Sophic and aging scientists return to the bosom of the Mantic. The mingling of the two factions is more like a melee than fraternization, with each party trying to capture the banner of the other.
A. The claims of the Mantic cannot be ignored or abolished.
Modern Statements: The antagonism between Religion and Science "has its roots deep down in the diverse habits of thought of different orders of mind. . . . [An unceasing] battle of opinion . . . which has been carried on throughout all ages under the banners of Religion and Science, has of course generated an animosity fatal to a just estimate of either party by the other"—but they are both here to stay.1 "Revelation, which is the basis of religion, is not itself opposed to knowledge. On the contrary, . . . revelation is what is revealed to me and knowledge is what I discover for myself. How could there be any conflict between what I discover cognitively and what is demonstrated to me by religion?" The trouble is caused when "Divine Revelation . . . becomes adulterated by the immediate reactions of the human community in which it takes place, and by the way in which men make use of it to further their own interests. . . . Why should one refuse to submit to religion if one is content to submit to science?"2 We can never escape the Mantic: "All science is cosmology. . . . Both philosophy and science lose all their attraction when they give up that pursuit. . . . Western science . . . did not start with collecting observations of oranges, but with bold theories about the world."3 "The final ends of metaphysics and of human reason as a whole are the three great themes of God, freedom, and immortality"—which can hardly escape the Mantic.4
Scientists today are constantly glimpsing areas in which experience goes beyond the Sophic. When they do so, they immediately recoil and apologize. Thus, Nigel Calder repeatedly points out that the relationship of thought to the brain "may be a question of ultimate cause as refractory as asking why the universe exists. But that is no reason for doubting the reality of consciousness, as a characteristic of living brain tissue as rich as ours."5 In other words, just because we can never prove that the matter of the brain produces thought is no reason for doubting that it does! When theologians use that argument they are laughed to scorn. Again, "chemistry . . . may sometimes overwhelm the mind, but the mind can also dominate chemistry"—in that case, who is the winner? Chemistry, of course: "Both processes testify to the essentially physical nature of the mind"—but why not to the essentially spiritual nature of it, since it dominates matter?6 Thus the dice are always loaded in favor of the mechanism, but the dice keep falling oddly. Though "'the ultimate in criteria of credibility . . . is scientific objectivity,' careful thinkers have long been skeptical about the supposed objectivity of so-called scientific facts."7 So an anthropologist confesses that he reaches his conclusions "on a purely subjective basis, . . . one step removed from [intuition]. . . . Is this good enough? If it is not, what other method is available?"8
Ancient Statements: As we have seen, both Plato and Socrates in their youth went over from Mantic to Sophic, and later reversed themselves; it was not accommodation but conversion. Since ancient society was sacral, its existence without the Mantic was simply unthinkable. One could not destroy the Mantic element without destroying the society. This is exactly what happened, according to Thucydides, who, though he does not believe the oracles himself, notes that disaster follows upon their neglect. That is why the smart-alec teachings of the Sophists with their popular science were viewed not with the indifference and contempt they deserved on their own merits, but with horror and alarm by the greatest Greek thinkers.9 Plato often comments on the ruinous trend of Sophic teaching; he attributes to Pericles' learning from the physicist Anaxagoras "to despise all the superstitious fears" (the signs in the heavens),10 the attitude that laid the foundation for the ruin of Athens.11
B. The Sophic attempts to take over the religious prestige and prerogatives of the Mantic, both as being (1) a religion in its own right, and (2) as a countermeasure to fight fire with fire and deprive the Mantic of its unique advantages.
Modern Statements: (1) "Man . . . appears to be not so much a rational animal as an ideological animal. The history of science, . . . especially since Francis Bacon, may be taken as an illustration. It was a religious or semi-religious movement, and Bacon was the prophet of the secularized religion of science. He replaced the name 'God' by the name 'Nature'; but almost everything else he left unchanged. Theology, the science of God, was replaced by the science of Nature; the laws of God were replaced by the laws of Nature; God's power was replaced by the forces of Nature; . . . God's . . . omniscience . . . by the . . . virtual omniscience of natural science."12 "Perhaps we should turn the world over to this superbreed. . . . Perhaps they should design not only the churches, but the creeds also. . . . The sad fact is that some scientists themselves appear to believe precisely this."13 Anthropologist Edmund R. Leach believes this and feels now is the time to begin: "All the marvels of creation are seen to be mechanisms rather than mysteries. . . . All that remains of the divine will is the moral consciousness of man himself. So we must now learn to play God in a moral as well as in a creative or destructive sense."14 Wallace Fenn makes an even more impassioned plea: "It may be that there is no meaning to life. . . . Even so, here we are, and we had better find some meaning or invent one for ourselves so that we have some definite mission to lend dignity to our life. If there is a meaning, it obviously lies somewhere in the vast areas of biology which are still unknown to us, and we should have faith that it is at least worth looking for by the usual rational experimental approach. . . . Unlike the physical sciences biology can be almost a religion in itself."15 Note the use of "faith" and rational experimental approach in the same sentence. "Dr. Huxley . . . [had] no serious intention of disguising the theological character of his writing, for his account of Evolution is openly presented as the theology of his own 'Religion without Revelation.' . . . Evolution, then, takes on for Dr. Huxley most of the jobs of the discredited Deity. . . . God has failed: we must therefore put our trust in Evolution."16
Attempts have even been made to wed conventional religion and the religion of science, as when the American Association for the Advancement of Science "turned amateur theologians and tried to prove that science and religion are essentially in harmony—that even St. Thomas was an evolutionist. In order to make this reconciliation possible, both science and religion were emasculated of definite meaning."17
(2) It was necessary to don the robes and the aura of religion in order to deprive the opposition of its advantage; some put forth the doctrine that science was not an enemy of religion but an improvement on it, a great forward step. Science itself was a higher and nobler religion. This fighting of fire with fire begot a missionary zeal in such scientists as Huxley, Simpson, Romer, and Shapley, who preached throughout the land with evangelical fervor. "Here we see how modern science is providing what religious beliefs have always sought, a coherent set of beliefs about the universe and man."18 "There are still individual scientists [who] . . . think of it [science] as a cult, a cult united by a mystique called 'the scientific method,' . . . a kind of pure virginal objectivity that has to guard its beauty against the wrinkled advances of religion, art, or ethics."19 "Religion has emerged into human experience mixed with the crudest fancies of barbaric imagination. Gradually, slowly, steadily the vision recurs in history under nobler form and with clearer expression."20 "Man's evolution is far more extraordinary than the first chapter of Genesis used to lead people to suppose. . . . The story of man is far more wonderful than the wonders of physical science"—but the Sophic must be allowed to tell it.21 "It's gratifying—or should be gratifying to you—to be a part of this magnificent evolutionary show, even though we must admit ourselves to be lineal descendants of some rather nauseating gases and sundry streaks of lightning."22 "Therefore from a very long range point of view biological research becomes the highest objective that can be thought of for human life. In this respect the biologists deserve front seats in the halls of learning and the mission of AIBS [the American Institute of Biological Science] becomes closely identified with the mission of mankind."23 "Evolution now becomes not only the Source of Comfort and Reassurance. . . . It figures also as the Immanent and Omnipresent Creator, . . . . whose Agent it is man's privilege to be. . . . All the wonders which for Archdeacon Paley were evidences for the existence of God can on this view be put to the credit of Evolution."24
Missionary zeal is apparent in Dorcey Hager's presidential address before the Utah Geological Society. "The most important responsibilities of the geologists involve effects of their findings on the mental bondage controlled by ignorant ranters who accept the Bible as the last word in Science."25 The heathen must be saved. For the scientist "Proving—probing—all things is the privilege of ardent faith, the freedom that belongs to the children of light."26 So the Sophic practitioners who pour scorn on the Mantic as "True Believers" speak in the pious language of the sectaries of the desert, in the end putting themselves forward as the Children of Light. In reference to Arnold Toynbee's Study of History, Hugh Trevor-Roper writes, "In the tenth volume of his work, . . . his Book of Revelation, the secret is laid bare: the Messiah steps forth: he is Toynbee himself. . . . All creation has been groaning and travailing to produce him."27 "Bacon's naive view . . . became the main dogma of the new religion of science, . . . and it is only in recent years that some scientists have become willing to listen to those who criticize this still powerful dogma."28 "Dr. Huxley himself calls it 'a glorious paradox' that 'this purposeless mechanism, after a thousand million years of its blind and automatic operations, has finally generated purpose' "—and produced Dr. Huxley.29 Note the theological language—a glorious paradox. Science fiction often adopts the language and imagery of apocalyptic (biblical) writings, as at the end of When Worlds Collide, when "the League of the Last Days," made up of the world's top scientists, ushers in the Millennium. "They shouted, sang. They laughed and danced. The first day on the new earth had begun."30 There are very few of the more grandiose ideas and titles in science fiction which cannot be traced to the Bible. The attitude is strongly authoritarian: "The public has become willing to accept, with the respect accorded scientific conclusions, the scientist's view on numerous topics that have nothing to do with his special area of competence, or with science as a whole"—as a scientist he becomes an authority on everything.31 With the Scientific revolution "pride of physical place was replaced by autodeification in the order of knowing. . . . The Scientific revolution, . . . by denying the relevance, if not the possibility, of non-empirical, non-instrumental knowledge, . . . made man the intellectual summit of the universe,"32 the only prophet, seer, and revelator.
Ancient Statements: The scholar Longinus "is himself the Great Sublime he draws!" The scholars, moving in on a sick Mantic, took over religious teaching, and in the process destroyed it.
The grossness, luxury, and immorality of pagan priests of the official state religion were as predictable as that of the monks of the late Middle Ages: they were smooth, hypocritical, and greedy.33 Conditions in Athens at the time the Sophist teachers took over have been described in the tenth chapter of Gilbert Murray's book Aristophanes. "Religion had become a service club.34 Religion had declined: "Let fools talk about justice or religion; the one solid good is to have power and money."35 Poetry itself had become "an old harlot who has passed her prime" but who pretends to be ultrarespectable and proper; the official morality cannot endure criticism or satire.36 Everywhere the scholars supplanted the poets, to whom, as critics, they felt superior. The Sophists pretended to be teaching a higher form of religion, but their own greatness was the first and last article of faith. Thus an orator would end a speech with a perfectly irrelevant prayer, "abruptly and grotesquely with an invocation to 'Earth and Sun and Virtue and Intelligence and Education, through which we distinguish between the noble and the base,' "37 retaining a Mantic tone by clumsy contrivance. The Sophic teachers were constantly on tour, lecturing in many cities and on every subject, imitating the fabulous Seven Wise men of old, and cultivating an aura of supernatural wisdom which gave them the status of holy men.38 The business goes back to Sumerian times in the Orient.39 The Jewish Scholars side by side with the Greek moved constantly from city to city, acquiring great fame and reputations for wisdom and holiness. The system survived into Moslem times40 and was carried over into medieval Europe directly from the Sophist schools. The world was the Sophists' oyster as he proclaimed his Sovereign immunity from all restraints wherever he went; as a super-thinker nothing could restrain him: he is indeed none other than the true King. Of the famous Proclus, president of the University of Athens for forty-seven years, it is said that "his pupils deemed him divinely inspired," and one visitor to his lectures saw a light around his head.41 He preached that all religions were true, thus rendering all devoid of any particular appeal.42
When the Flavian emperors sponsored a syncretium of the major religions in the cult of Serapis, they met head-on resistance from the Philosophers—the Stoics and Cynics.43 Yet these very philosophers would unite all religions in the bonds of allegory, and it was the "Stoic allegorizing which finally dispelled all belief in the gods."44 "Protagoras's ethics and politics are basically atheistic, even though . . . his ethics taught eusebia [piety] and moral order established by the unknown gods."45 The futility of his teaching was his vanity; his celebrated dictum made man and no one else "the measure of all things." The Doctors wanted all to be saved—but only if they did the saving. Lucretius cannot abide the thought of ignorant multitudes in thrall to ancient superstitions while he has the one saving truth—"O miseras hominum mentes, et pectora caeca!"—he is full of missionary fervor and, like any prophet, sees himself borne victorious in glory to the skies. The rhetorical art of the Sophists was devised as a flexible tool to permit their mental and spiritual domination in any field,46 while retaining the appearance of the strictest scientific detachment and accuracy; this was possible by the use of doxa, the art of cultivating appearances. Correcting the thought and diction of the ancients, their subtle scholasticism dazzled and conquered: their method and authority carried right over into the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages. The Arabs inherited the same tradition: Bukhari begins his work on cosmology by announcing that the beginning of wisdom is that there is no God but God and that the scholars (scientists, culama') are the heirs and successors of the Prophets, and that they have passed all knowledge from hand to hand in a state of complete and perfect preservation. God will smooth the way to Paradise for those who follow them! This is modest compared with the self-glorification of the Doctors of the Talmud. The Muctazilites are the purest of Sophic teachers, always laying down rules about what God may and what he may not do, like the Scholastic Philosophers of Europe.47
There was a constant game of dominant and submissive going-on between the ignorant public (which these men always affected to despise) and the traveling wise men, who appear either as martyrs or masters of the mob. The Sophic contempt of the ignorant was a permanent heritage of the schools.48 Francis Bacon noted the futility of the Ancient Schoolmen: "Now the wisdom of the Greeks was professional and much given to disputation, a kind of wisdom most adverse to the inquisition of truth. . . . [Pompously professional,] they are prompt to prattle, but cannot produce; for their wisdom abounds in words but is barren of works."49 But is the Modern Sophic immune to such folly? "Much of the anthropological writing of the time [the 1920s and 1930s] was an attempt to show that the other fellow thought wrongly."50 In the case of human footprints in very ancient rocks, if the evidence is reliable, "then the whole science of geology is so completely wrong that all geologists will resign their jobs and take up truck driving. Hence . . . science rejects the attractive explanation." In other words, any evidence is rejected if it threatens our careers!51 "Today's ideological conflicts are carried . . . deeper and deeper into the study of [ancient] mankind."52
C. In the end, the Sophic produces an army of Fakirs that surpasses the best efforts of the corrupted Mantic in its antics and its arrogance.
Modern Statements: Compared to the novelist, the image of the scientist in the public mind (as revealed by an extensive survey) is that of a uniquely intelligent, manly, valuable, hard-working, and dependable (albeit dull) individual.53 In biology, thanks to Darwin, science "gives the false impression that we know much more about the origin of life than we actually do."54 Furthermore, we have been brought to believe that scientists in general "thrive on the replacement of their old and cherished theories or beliefs by new ones" when, in reality, it is against their natures to "welcome with joy and satisfaction the publication of a new theory, explanation, or . . . scheme that would completely replace and render superfluous [their] own creation." The history of science can therefore be viewed "as a series of changing 'orthodoxies' " in which scientists exhibit "a certain measure of hostility to major innovations."55 Bernard Cohen considers "any suggestion that scientists so dearly love truth that they have not the slightest hesitation in jettisoning their beliefs is a mean perversion of the facts. It is a form of scientific idolatry, supposing that scientists are entirely free from the passions that direct men's actions."56
Since the mid-1960s scientists in various fields have engaged in controversy regarding the true nature of the Orgueil meteorite (a "carbonaceous chondrite"); this debate, writes Walter Sullivan, "is a classic example of a scientific discussion become personal, emotional and enmeshed with professional pride. The talents and ingenuity of participants have been directed toward proving their case, rather than seeking out the truth. They have thus demonstrated that they are human, but the wonderful self-discipline and objectivity that we all call pure science has suffered. The inconclusiveness of the discussion also reflects the inadequacy of our analytic methods. The Orgueil meteorite has probably been more elaborately studied than any other chunk of material on earth. Yet . . . the complex and varied components of this specimen defy precise definition."57
"So far are they [science majors] from having learned any humility, they are known in every high school and . . . college as the most insufferable, cocksure knowit-alls. . . . [They are] entitled to pour scorn on other subjects from a very great height."58 "When the Piltdown hoax was exposed at the meeting of the Geological Society of London in November 1953, it precipitated a violent discussion. . . . The meeting soon broke up into a series of fist fights . . . [and] the fracas resulted in the expulsion of several members of the dignified scientific body."59 When many valid objections to the evolutionary hypothesis were brought forth by "people who were not trained biologists . . . their objections could be countered summarily on grounds of ignorance, despite the fact that Darwin's hypothesis appealed so largely to the evidence of common observation and experience." Many were deluded into thinking that because Darwin recognized the objections, "in this way he had disposed of them."60 "It is false that any reputable anthropologist nowadays professes an anti-evolutionist philosophy."61 Pure snobbery has cost the Sophic many a great discovery, but without it the Sophic as such would not survive. "It seems at times as if many of our modern writers on evolution have had their views by some sort of revelation. . . . Much of what we learn today are only half truths or less. . . . An incorrect view can . . . successfully displace the correct view for many years. . . . Most students become acquainted with many of the current concepts in biology whilst . . . at an age when most people are, on the whole, uncritical. . . . In addition, . . . most students tend to have the same sort of educational background and so in conversation and discussion they accept common fallacies and agree on matters based on these fallacies."62 "Ales Hrdlicka, the fanatic tzar holding to this [the Alaska-bridge] theory, smote down anybody suggesting other possibilities."63 But "as long as this [knowledge] is assumed, insufficient effort will be put into the attempt to find ways to obtain genuine evidence."64
Ancient Statements: "Tear yourself away from the solemn conventions of these self-styled philosophers, who do not agree among themselves and who announce a doctrine as the truth the moment it pops into their heads. They are full of mutual hatred and jealousy and ambition."65 They only close ranks against the ignorant public, which they despise and neglect.66 Even the naked philosophers of Egypt and India were jealous among themselves,67 and included Apollonius in their rivalries. In Coptic Egypt, holy men traveled around collecting blessings from each other like the Sophists before them.68 In the fifth century "these defenders of a dying cause could at least keep up the appearance of success by mutual praise and admiration."69 Vanity and ineptitude were concealed behind altruistic educational programs for improving other people's minds. "What good does it do you to pay high salaries to teachers and raise up a host of experts when the actions of our society speak so much more loudly than their safe, conventional commonplaces? For philosophy of the mind (psyche) is as much harder than text-book education as doing is than talking. Should we teach more philosophy? That is the very thing that has brought us to this condition by destroying all ultimate certainty."70 Every scientist claims that he has the answer, overcome by his own line of reasoning (logos), quite aside from the evidence itself. They are always knocking each other down: each one clings to his own theories, and so complete disunity reigns, according to Hippocrates, who is good enough to point out that the only real science is his science,71 and that no amateur may be tolerated in that.72 In Syria the scholar Ephraim became the number-one man by systematically attacking and finally wiping out all the works of a far greater man, Bardasenes. "Everything has been done to obscure his memory and to consign him to oblivion."73 All the tricks of the Sophic came to full flower among the Arabs; the organized schools, inheriting the teachings of the Sophists, had all the power. When one scholar in his old age admitted extensive forgeries, the Doctors replied: "What you said then seems to us more trustworthy than your present assertion," and there was nothing he could do about it.74
Proposition 8. There are certain inescapable limitations to the Sophic that, while they do not destroy its sway fatally, vitiate its power for good and disqualify its claims to rule.
Modern Statements: "I doubt if we get very far by the intellect alone," claimed Whitehead. "I doubt if the intellect carries us very far. . . . The longer I live the more I am impressed by the enormous, the unparalleled genius of one philosopher, and that is Plato."75 The Sophic is reluctant to admit its limitations, but they are there: "The most useful approach for explaining evolutionary changes is still teleology, an uncomfortable state of affairs for the schoolbook logic which poses as philosophy of science. . . . Today, biologists are ashamed of teleology," though their "ateleological attitude . . . verges on sterility, and indeed might signify such, were it not that teleological reasoning is substantially more common in the laboratory and field than in the research papers."76 "It is not easy for a child to abandon the purposeful perception of the world so dear to his heart and go over to the grim causality of natural science, . . . the discipline of school studies." But which picture is right? "The picture of the world actually observed may suggest the incompleteness of the principles of the exact sciences"; the school "tames the spirit of man and laces it into the Spanish boot of logical thinking. . . . The trouble . . . lies not in the incompleteness of knowledge . . . but in the deep discrepancy between the world of the exact sciences and the real world."77 Evolution was found wanting, but there was nothing to take its place, so "this theoretical bankruptcy has forced us back into the evolutionist fold in spite of ourselves."78 Though Proconsul "is not a good candidate as an ancestor of the gibbons and siamangs, . . . at the moment he is the best fossil evidence available for the data and provenience we seek"—so we accept him!79
While the Sophic has always claimed the infinite view of the Mantic, today "absolute limits" are beginning to appear: Once "geometry was science and seemed inexhaustible—yet in 300 years it was exhausted"; there is an absolute limit to the number of crystal forms or chemical elements that can exist: "The implications of this have crept almost unnoticed upon the chemists and the physicists. Placing such limitations upon nature runs quite contrary to the traditional tenets of empiricism."80 "Then, one night at a meeting of one of the Cambridge scientific clubs . . . I heard one of the greatest mathematical physicists say, with complete simplicity: '. . . in a sense, physics and chemistry are finished sciences.' . . . We were in the sight of the end. It seemed incredible to me, brought up in the tradition of limitless searching, mystery beyond mystery. . . . I resented leaving it. . . . I wanted him to be wrong. Yet I could see what he meant. . . . In the whole of chemistry and physics, we were in sight of the end. . . . It struck me how impossible it would have been to say this a few years before. Before 1926 no one could have said it, unless he were a megalomaniac or knew no science."81 "The external walls appear as formidable as ever; but at the very center of the supposedly solid fortress of logical thinking, all is confusion. . . . The ultimate basis of both types of logical thinking [deductive and inductive] is infected, at the very core, with imperfection."82
The authoritarianism of the Sophic is essential but fatal. Because of it, "at this moment scientists and sceptics are the leading dogmatists. Advance in detail is admitted; fundamental novelty is barred. This dogmatic commonsense is the death of philosophic adventure."83 "Our language is made up only of preconceived ideas and can not be otherwise. Only these are unconscious preconceived ideas, a thousand times more dangerous than the others."84 This means following the party line to promotion, with its "excessive subsidy of the mediocre."85 Science can never achieve the objectivity it boasts: "Pursuit of knowledge [is] based largely on hidden clues and arrived at and ultimately accredited, on grounds of personal judgment."86 In science "we take our space and time with a deadly seriousness" though perception of them has been "furnished to us by the machinery of our nervous systems," and "acquire[d] only by arduous practice."87 Man's "brain corrupts the revelation of his senses. His output of information is but one part in a million of his input. He is a sink rather than a source of information. The creative flights of his imagination are but distortions of a fraction of his data. Finally, . . . ultimate universal truths are beyond his ken."88 "If you ask me, 'How do you know?' my reply would be, 'I don't; I only propose a guess.' "89 Outside of mathematics, "no description or 'definition' will ever include all particulars," while mathematics "deals with fictitious entities with all particulars included, and we proceed by remembering."90 "Gödel . . . proved that . . . the question, 'Is there an inner flaw in this system?' is a question which is simply unanswerable."91 "This is a rather shocking thing to say—that science does not furnish any really ultimate or satisfying explanation. . . . Scientists—even the greatest ones . . . cannot agree as to whether and how science explains anything. . . . The explanations of science have utility, but . . . they do in sober fact not explain."92 The explanation is always a circular process.93 "The all, some, and none categories of Aristotelian logic are of little value in ethnology, or any other social science."94
"If cause and effect are absolutely equivalent, the question 'Why?' is meaningless. Therefore the exact sciences answer only the simplest question in the cognition of the world, 'How?' "95 "It is important to combat the assumption that we have real pictures of the past; "these remain possibilities and nothing more," we will never achieve proof, "only a stronger probability" by continued research. "Personal knowledge in [the exact sciences] is not made but discovered, and as such it claims to establish contact with reality beyond the clues on which it relies [i.e., knowing is an art]. It [the skill of the knower] commits us, passionately and far beyond our comprehension, to a vision of reality."96 "We must be prepared for the possibility that the human brain will never be able to understand itself, or consciousness or perhaps the nature of life itself. If so . . . the theory of dialectical materialism will be disproved."97
"The world . . . will always be different from any statement that science can give of it. . . . We are always restating our restatement of the world."98 "In atomic physics we deal with the sort of world which would be sensed by intelligent beings endowed only with a clumsy sense of touch."99 There is in our knowledge "a vast gap which physics shows no signs of ever being able to bridge. . . . It may even be that whatever it is that is peculiar to life and particular to thought lies outside the scope of physical concepts."100 "So long as we, like good empiricists, remember that it is an act of faith to believe our senses, that we corrupt but do not generate information, and that our most respectable hypotheses are but guesses, . . . we [may] 'rest assured that . . . [we are not] sinful man aspiring to the place of God.' "101 "Newton's first law illustrates another point, that the physical sciences are based on an act of faith."102 "The structure of any language, mathematical or daily, is such that we must start . . . with undefined terms. . . . These undefined words have to be taken on faith. They represent some kind of implicit creed."103 Thus we must dispense with the whole foundation of the Sophic: "All propositions which form the basis of scientific knowledge are of such a nature that universal agreement could be obtained about them."104 The physicist only wins back from Nature what he himself has put into the picture. Quantum theory and relativity "teach the same lesson, . . . namely, that the world is not constructed according to the principles of common sense."105
Ancient Statements: At the very beginning, the limitations of the Ionian School of physical science were pointed out by Heraclitus, who thereby earned himself the unflattering epithet of ho skoteinos, which, as Sophocles uses the word, does not mean "the obscure" so much as "the recalcitrant," "the gloomy one," the man who throws cold water on things. Heraclitus asked just how reliable the human organism is as a gatherer and interpreter of information: how well equipped are we to read Bacon's "Book of Nature"? Men's eyes and ears are, to say the least, unreliable instruments,106 and if their senses are feeble, their interpretative faculties are even more so: all men are more or less asleep, and never completely sober. Mere information (polymathia) is pointless for all the pride we take in it; the Sophoi have done with God once for all—but they are always talking about him: they are seeking the same objective as religion—to explain everything. And what are their chances of succeeding? What about the objects they observe? They are always changing even while they seek to limit and define them—"all things flow; . . . you can't step into the same river twice."107 The observer's own position is purely relative, yet everything depends on it: "The road up and the road down are the same road"108—it all depends on the way you are facing. So what hope have we for real knowledge? Revelation, says Heraclitus: "A man should listen to the spirits (daimones, the same word is used by Socrates)109 as a child listens to an adult";110 our individual minds are pretty dull, but through the ages there exists an unmistakable consensus of humanity about things, an ethos which is not the product of reason but of revelation; there is a common divine logos in which we all have a share, and that is the one thing we can be really sure of, "the criterion of truth."111 The great Sophists—Gorgias, Protagoras, Empedocles, and others, as well as Socrates and Plato and Aristotle—all dealt with the limitations of the Sophic mind.112
1. Herbert Spencer, First Principles (New York: Appleton, 1898), 12.
2. Nicolas Berdyaev, Solitude and Society (London: Centenary, 1938), 5, 12.
3. Karl R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (New York: Basic Books, 1962), 136-37.
4. Gottfried Martin, Kant's Metaphysics and Theory of Science, tr. P. G. Lucas (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1955), 129.
5. Nigel Calder, Mind of Man (New York: Viking, 1970), 262.
6. Ibid., 95 (emphasis added).
7. Warren Weaver, "The Imperfections of Science," American Scientist 49 (March 1961): 110.
8. Russell Housfeld, "Dissembled Culture: An Essay on Method," Mankind 6 (November 1963): 50.
9. Gilbert Murray, Aristophanes (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), 101.
10. Plutarch, Pericles VI, 1.
11. Plato, Gorgias 518-19; Werner Jaeger, Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, tr. Gilbert Highet, 3 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945), 1:330-31.
12. Karl R. Popper, "Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities," Federation Proceedings of the American Societies for Experimental Biology 22 (1963): 961.
13. Weaver, "The Imperfections," 101.
14. Edmund R. Leach, "We Scientists Have the Right to Play God," Saturday Evening Post 241 (16 November 1968): 20. Cf. Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden (New York: Random House, 1977), 237-38.
15. Wallace O. Fenn, "Front Seats for Biologists," AIBS Bulletin (December 1960): 16. Cf. Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden (New York: Random House, 1977), 237-38.
16. Stephen Toulmin, "Contemporary Scientific Mythology," in Metaphysical Beliefs (London: SCM Press, 1957), 61.
17. Morris R. Cohen, American Thought: A Critical Sketch (New York: Collier Books, 1962), 240.
18. Lawrence K. Frank, Nature and Human Nature (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1951), 151.
19. Julian Jaynes, "The Routes of Science," American Scientist 54 (March 1966): 95.
20. Alfred N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Lowell Lectures, 1925 (New York: Macmillan, 1962), 275.
21. G. M. Trevelyan, History and the Reader (London: Cambridge University Press, 1945), 24-25.
22. Harlow Shapley, in Life in Other Worlds, A Symposium Sponsored by Joseph E. Seagram and Sons (1 March 1961): 27.
23. Fenn, "Front Seats," 14.
24. Toulmin, "Contemporary Scientific Mythology," 61.
25. Dorsey Hager, "Fifty Years of Progress in Geology: The Presidential Address to the Utah Geological Society," Geotimes 2/2 (August 1957): 12.
26. Albert Guérard, Fossils and Presences (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957), 43.
27. Hugh R. Trevor-Roper, Men and Events (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957), 311, 313.
28. Popper, "Science: Problems," 961.
29. Toulmin, "Contemporary Scientific Mythology," 62.
30. Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie, When Worlds Collide (New York: Lippincott, 1933), 344.
31. "The Integrity of Science: A Report by the AAAS Committee on Science in the Promotion of Human Welfare," American Scientist 53 (June 1965): 194.
32. Charles R. Dechert, "Cybernetics and the Human Person," International Philosophical Quarterly 5 (February 1965): 32-33.
33. Commodian, Instructiones adversus Gentium Deos 19 and 22, in PL 5:215-18.
34. Murray, Aristophanes, 236.
35. Ibid., 226-27.
36. Plutarch, Moralia 853, quoted in Murray, Aristophanes, 215.
37. J. F. Dobson, Greek Orators (London: Methuen, 1919), 198.
38. Hugh Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas: The Rise of Rhetoric and the Decline of Everything Else," Western Speech 20 (Spring 1956): 60; reprinted in this volume, pages 247-48.
39. Edward Chiera, They Wrote on Clay: The Babylonian Tablets Speak Today (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938), 110.
40. Hugo Winckler, "Staat und Verwaltung," in Eberhard Schrader, ed., Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament (Berlin: Reuther and Reicherd, 1903), 169-70.
41. John E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship (New York: Hafner, 1958), 1:373.
42. J. B. Bury, A History of the Later Roman Empire, From Arcadius to Irene, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1889), 1:315.
43. Jean Gage, "La propagande sérapiste et la lutte des empereurs flaviens avec les philosophes (Stoïciens et Cyniques)," Revue philosophique de la France 149 (1959): 73-100.
44. Hugo Rahner, Greek Myths and Christian Mystery (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), 195.
45. Wilhelm Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, in Walter Otto, ed., Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft (Munich: Beck, 1940), 3:1:1:37.
46. Cf. Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," 63-64, 70-71; reprinted in this volume, pages 253-54, 265-67.
47. Goldziher, Vorlesungen, 44.
48. Eduard Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, 2 vols., 3rd ed. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1915), 2:771.
49. Francis Bacon, Novum Organum I, 71.
50. M. A. MacConaill in "European vs. American Anthropology," Current Anthropology 6 (June 1965): 306.
51. Albert G. Ingalls, "The Carboniferous Mystery," Scientific American 162 (January 1940): 14.
52. E. Hirshler, "Prehistory and the Birth of Civilization," Comparative Studies in Society and History 7 (1964): 97.
53. L. Hudson, "The Stereotypical Scientist," Nature (21 January 1967): 229.
54. M. G. Rutten, The Geological Aspects of the Origin of Life on Earth (New York: Elsevier, 1962), 125.
55. I. Bernard Cohen, "Orthodoxy and Scientific Progress," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 96 (1952): 505.
56. Ibid., 505-6.
57. Walter Sullivan, We Are Not Alone, The Search for Intelligent Life on Other Worlds (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 147-48.
58. Anthony Standen, Science Is a Sacred Cow (New York: Dutton, 1950), 18.
59. Science News Letter (17 July 1954): 40.
60. Ronald Good, "Natural Selection Re-examined," The Listener (7 May 1959): 797.
61. Robert H. Lowie, "Evolution and Cultural Anthropology," American Anthropologist 48 (April-June 1946): 231.
62. G. A. Kerkut, gen. ed., Implications of Evolution, International Series of Monographs on Pure and Applied Biology; Division: Zoology, vol. 4 (New York: Pergamon, 1960), 155-56.
63. Carleton Beals, Nomads and Empire Builders (New York: Chilton, 1961), 67-68.
64. Norman W. Pirie, "Some Assumptions Underlying Discussion on the Origins of Life," Annals New York Academy of Sciences 69 (1957): 373.
65. Tatian, Oratio adversus Graecos (Oration to the Greeks) 3, in PG 6:809.
66. Epictetus, Discourses I, 12, 21; I, 18, 2-4; II, 8, 7. Cf. Titus Maccius Plautus, The Captives 300-308.
67. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius II, 30.
68. The Life of Apa Cyrus, in E. A. Wallis Budge, Coptic Texts: Coptic Martyrdoms Etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, 5 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1914), 4:383-85, fol. 25b, 27a.
69. F. J. E. Raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages, 2 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1934), 1:75.
70. John Chrysostom, Adversus Oppugnatores Eorum Qui Vitam Monasticum Inducant 3, in PG 47:363.
71. Hippocrates, The Nature of Man I, 1-35.
72. Hippocrates, Ancient Medicine I, 1-27.
73. Paul E. Kahle, The Cairo Geniza, The Schweich Lectures of the British Academy, 1941 (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), 193.
74. Reynold A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs (London: Cambridge University Press, 1953), 134; cf. Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur (Leipzig: Amelang, 1901), 1:13, 80-81, 95, 126, 128, 185-86, 197, 200, 220-27.
75. Alfred N. Whitehead, quoted in Lucien Price, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead (Boston: Little, Brown, 1954), 132.
76. Harry Grundfest, "Opinions on Darwin a Century After," Science and Society 24 (1960): 152.
77. Nikolai Kozyrev, "An Unexplored World," Soviet Life (November 1965): 27.
78. Kenneth E. Bock, "Evolution and Historical Process," American Anthropologist 54 (October-December 1952): 494.
79. Charles F. Hockett and Robert Ascher, "The Human Revolution," American Scientist 52 (March 1964): 73 (emphasis added).
80. P. LeCorbeiller, "Crystals and the Future of Physics," Scientific American 188 (January 1953): 56.
81. C. P. Snow, The Search (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958), 168-69.
82. N. Goodman, quoted in Weaver, "The Imperfections," 109.
83. Price, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead, 7.
84. Henri Poincaré, The Foundations of Science (New York: Science, 1929), 129.
85. Vannevar Bush, quoted in Eric Hodgins, "The Strange State of American Research," Fortune (April 1955): 214.
86. Michael Polanyi, "The Unaccountable Element in Science," Philosophy 37 (January 1962): 14.
87. P. W. Bridgman, "Science and Common Sense," Scientific Monthly 79 (July 1954): 36.
88. Warren S. McCulloch, "Mysterium Iniquitatis of Sinful Man Aspiring into the Place of God," Scientific Monthly 80 (January 1955): 39.
89. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, 152.
90. Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity (New York: Science, 1933), 68.
91. Weaver, "The Imperfections," 109.
92. Ibid., 106-7, 111.
93. See Rollin W. Workman, "What Makes an Explanation," Philosophy of Science 31 (July 1964): 241-54.
94. Harold E. Driver and William C. Massey, "Comparative Studies of North American Indians," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 47 (July 1957): 438.
95. Kozyrev, "An Unexplored World," 43.
96. Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 64.
97. Fenn, "Front Seats," 16.
98. George H. Mead, Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), 507-8.
99. P. T. Matthews, The Nuclear Apple (London: Chatto and Windus, 1971), 127.
100. Ibid., 141-42.
101. McCulloch, "Mysterium Iniquitatis," 39 (emphasis added).
102. F. A. Vick, "The Making of Scientists," The Listener 61 (29 January 1959): 196.
103. Korzybski, Science and Sanity, 152-53 (emphasis added).
104. C. D. Hardie, Background of Modern Thought (London: Watts, 1947), 124-25.
105. Bridgman, "Science and Common Sense," 33 (emphasis added).
106. Heraclitus, On the Universe 4.
107. Ibid., 41.
108. Ibid., 69.
109. Plato, Apology 24C, 26B, 27C, E.
110. Heraclitus, On the Universe 97; in Socrates's works see Plato, Apology 24C, 26B, 27C, E.
111. Heraclitus, On the Universe 1.
112. Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," 57-58; reprinted in this volume, pages 243-45.