Science is a fantastic achievement of mankind. Through it we have gone where no man has gone before. From all frontiers we seem to progress into areas that the ancients could not have imagined as possibilities. We went into space, visited the moon, cured diseases, and we now bounce invisible signals with satellites we sent into space to deliver text, audio, and visual messages between opposite ends of the globe. When it was utilized for good purposes, science has served humanity in a great number of ways. On the other hand, it was through science that we developed more powerful hallucinogenic drugs, better weapons, and more efficient ways of killing people. These diametrically opposing influences of science on the world are indicative of its morally neutral stance. More importantly, this dual influence of science is indicative of its submissive nature to be utilized in whichever way the handler chooses. Therefore, it cannot be used as a system that dictates. Rather, it is a tool that can be used to dictate within a system. Confusing this will result in less than pleasant consequences.
There are two fundamental scientific revolutions that have changed mankind’s view of its habitat and itself in the universe: the Copernican and Darwinian Revolutions. The interesting thing about these revolutions, while they served to explain some of the phenomenological realities of how the universe is working, they have also resulted in heightened levels of hubris to such a degree that humans have harmed the planet and themselves in unprecedented ways. This is happening while having the delusional idea of progress, which is evidence for lack of insight and foresight.
Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) was a Polish astronomer who published a book in 1542 attacking the geocentric model of the universe. Geocentric astronomy, which is also known as Ptolemaic astronomy after the ancient Greek astronomer Ptolemy, was the unchallenged established view of the universe that placed the stationary earth at the centre of the universe with the planets and the sun in orbit around it. Copernicus proposed an alternative heliocentric model, which placed the sun as the centre of the universe, and the planets, including the earth, were in orbit around the sun. In this new model, which prevailed within 100 years of its proposal, the earth lost its special status and became just another planet.
While Copernicus’ innovation not only accurately described the relationship between the earth and sun and other planets, it did not just stop at improving astronomy. It indirectly led to the development of modern physics, through the work of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). However, a pernicious effect of Coperincanism was the change in the worldview that the earth, and by extension humans, were the centre of the universe.
Despite the change in worldview about the place the earth held in the universe, another couple of hundred years would pass where mankind would still feel that it held a special, unique, and very significant spiritual status. As far as they were concerned, humans were masters of their domain. The only moral, rational, freethinking, and spiritual special creation of God who were placed on this earth having everything within it subservient to us during our stay here before we go back up to heaven.
However, just as the earth lost its status as the centre of the universe through the Copernican Revolution, humans would also lose their status as the centre of creation and of having any special qualities endowed to them. The Darwinian Revolution has equated man with animals who underwent a purely natural biochemical process to get to where they are. No longer are humans at the peak of hierarchy to carry out a Divine plan. According to the Darwinian model, gaining the higher power of intelligence is simply an emergent quality that has arisen from random chaotic processes, which has been preserved due to the indispensable function it serves for human survival in this crewel planet. Furthermore, this planet happened to support life through yet another random chaotic process and by chance happened to have the right conditions for our existence. Nothing is special, nothing is unique in the Divine sense of the word, and nothing is really sacred.
While the scientific descriptions of the universe and nature from a directly observable phenomenological sense are correct, and from an inferential theoretical sense having various degrees of truth to them, the overall concluding worldview is not necessarily a correct one. Much has been and continues to be discussed regarding the psychological and sociological consequences of the changed perception regarding the place of earth and humans in the big picture. If neither are really special or have much of a significance in the universe beyond having the right circumstantial conditions for life to exist, then what real objective responsibility do humans have towards each other or towards where they just happened to accidentally exist?
What does not seem to have received much attention is whether the Copernican and Darwinian Revolutions resulted in the correct worldview. Namely, does explaining the mechanisms stemming from these models necessitate the change from a geocentric and human-centric worldview?
Let us take the heliocentric model for instance. Indeed, it is a fact that the earth revolves around the sun and that it rotates around its own tilted axis. Both phenomenons result in our experience of day and night, as well as the change in seasons. Moreover, the combination of earthly movements is also why we observe the stars moving at night, and throughout the year when we see some disappear while others become visible. At face value it looks as if the earth is a part of the cosmos lacking any special significance. However, we know that the location of the earth and its specific orbit are dependent on its mass, the mass of the sun, and the masses of the other planets (closer ones being a more significant factors). This is not to mention the presence of the moon and how its distance from the earth is dependent on both its mass and the earth’s. These are but some of the necessary conditions that need to have their current values in order for life to exist and thrive on earth.
Although the heliocentric description is accurate from a mechanical perceptive, it does not necessarily negate a geocentric worldview. There is a fallacy in logic called the fallacy of composition, which basically indicates that just because the components of a thing have certain properties, it does not mean that the thing has the same properties. To give a simple example, if you have an album with 10 songs in it, and each song is 3 minutes long, it does not mean that the album is 3 minutes long. Now let us complicate the matter a little bit. Imagine each song is a different length, comes from a different genre of music, and different instruments and vocals are used in each. What ends up happening is that while you can describe each song individually and categorize it, you have to combine your understanding of all the songs to give an emergent description when you talk about the whole album.
So let us bring humans into the equation. Although we have a heliocentric model that explains the mechanical workings of various components in the universe, the emergent property when it is all combined gives rise to a geocentric worldview. Our experience on earth is indicative of the subjugation of the sun, the moon, the planets, and even stars lightyears away for our benefit. For example, the earth’s location in the solar system, its rotation, and its revolving around the sun, all give rise to the conditions necessary for life to not simply exist, but thrive as it does. Furthermore, the stars, which might look jumbled to an untrained person, are arranged in different patterns that give rise to constellations, which allows for us to keep a Gregorian calendar so we can tell what time of the year we are in, and to also be able to navigate directions. There is much more that can be said here. If one reflects deeply on this matter, the geocentric worldview will emerge through without compromising the heliocentric model. Moreover, if we take it based on human standards, having the earth do the rotating and revolving is simpler than having everything else revolve around it.
What about the Darwinian Revolution stripping humans of their special status? This is a lengthier philosophical discussion that I began to address in Some Problems with Evolution and in The Theory… I Mean Hypothesis of Evolution, which I plan to continue addressing in further writings. Suffice to say here that the reverse induction from the observable microevolution to an unobserved macroevolution is unjustified and philosophically problematic. However, if one is to give in and accept the Darwinian Revolution wholeheartedly, including the facts and theories and hypotheses that arose from it, the true and false of it, it still does not necessarily mean that humans are not unique and special in some way. For one, we seem to be the only creatures concerned about more than just feeding ourselves and our young. Furthermore, it is currently argued the humans have conquered natural evolution given the scientific and technological advances they have accomplished. For example, we have a multitude of genetic diseases that should have been eliminated through the process of natural selection, yet we keep propagating them through our interference via medical management of disease.
The problem with adopting Copernican and Darwinian worldviews as a result of an induction from understanding some mechanisms, is the loss of objective responsibility towards humanity and the earth it inhabits. This has resulted in the type of environmentally destructive behaviour and selfish attitude we nowadays observe from one another. Rather than serving a role that distinguishes us to be human beings, we descend into a status that has been described by some to be quite demonic. Militant atheists claim to be humble and accuse theists of being arrogant in thinking that humans and the earth are the centres of the universe. However, it is their arrogant approach that resulted from knowledge of mechanisms and ignorance of the emergent big picture, which has lowered mankind into unruly children in a house they think they happened to be in accidentally, where they seek and destroy property while they bully and steal from each other, not realizing at some point they will meet and answer to the Landlord who put them there and has been watching the whole time.
Mohamed Ghilan, PhD Candidate