What scientific idea is ready for retirement?

Edge.org’s big question for 2014. 175 short essays by some of today’s best known thinkers. “Science advances by discovering new things and developing new ideas. Few truly new ideas are developed without abandoning old ones first. As theoretical physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) noted, ‘A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.’ In other words, science advances by a series of funerals. Why wait that long?”


Hyperobjects … you’re only human

Are there objects too immense to comprehend? Review of Timothy Morton’s Hyperobjects.  “When he declares that the world is over, Morton is not summoning visions of a Hollywood We’re-all-gonna-die! cataclysm but, rather, the end of the cozy anthropocentric worldview that has governed Western thought since the advent of Greek philosophy. It doesn’t matter what you think of Kantian epistemology or Hegelian teleology because, Morton claims, the ‘privileged transcendental sphere’ of philosophy can’t protect us from ultraviolet rays or rising ocean levels.”

Does god exist? And which god are we talking about anyway?

In “The One Theology Book All Atheists Really Should Read, Oliver Burkeman asks, “What if most modern arguments against religious belief have been attacking the wrong God all along?” And in “The ‘Best Arguments for God’s Existence’ Are Actually Terrible,” Jerry Coyne replies that the god the vast majority of believers believe in is not that different from the god philosophers talk about and that it doesn’t really matter anyway because the philosophers’ “arguments are simply made-up stuff.”