Thursday, September 16, 2021

Biological evolution and cultural evolution in the history of life and man

The title of this post is the translation into English of a book of mine, published in 2017 by the publisher CEU Ediciones. As its name implies, the book is divided into three main parts, the first of which (the first four chapters) reviews the origin, evolution and history of life (biological evolution), while the second (chapters 5 and 6) focuses on the origin, evolution and history of man (cultural evolution). Finally, the third part (chapters 7 to 9) compares both types of evolution, emphasizing their similarities and differences; reviews the current situation of human evolution; and offers some ideas about the future.

As is often the case, this book did not come out of nowhere, but rather builds on previous works of mine. Especially in the first part, some of the titles of some chapters and subchapters may be familiar to the readers of my blog, because they are similar to some of my posts:

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Physics and Free Will

In the January 2021 issue of Physics World appeared an article entitled Why free will is beyond physics. This article, written by British science writer Philip Ball, is clearly anti-reductionist and says things like these:

“Free will” is not ruled out by physics – because it doesn’t stem from physics in the first place.

If physics can disprove free will, then it must override everything else too, even evolution.

But is free will really undermined by the determinism of physical law? I think such arguments are not even wrong; they are simply misconceived. They don’t recognize how cause and effect work, and by attempting to claim too much jurisdiction for fundamental physics they are not really scientific but metaphysical.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Chance and certainty

In a comment to the Spanish version of a previous post of mine, JL advised me to read the book entitled Chance and Certainty, by Georges Salet, who wrote it to prove that the origin of life and its subsequent evolution are impossible, if we apply the calculus of probabilities. In addition, he challenged me to refute at least one of the arguments proposed by the book, in the following words:

The work contains hundreds of arguments and demonstrations; if you, or anyone else whose help you ask, are able to refute a single argument or demonstration, I will readily admit that life can indeed arise spontaneously.

Salet's book is out of print and very hard to come by. I am grateful to another comment contributor, who provided me with the opportunity to read this book. I can therefore accept JL's challenge.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Is there a future for scientific research?

In recent decades, the trend to give preference to applied research over basic research has been clear in the Western countries. Yes, there are special calls for funding basic research projects, but we should clarify what those in charge of allocating research budgets understand by basic research.

This is the Wikipedia definition for basic research: scientific research with the aim of improving scientific theories for better understanding and prediction of natural or other phenomena.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Collective hallucinations and the Fatima miracle

C.S. Lewis

In two previous posts in this blog I have mentioned the miracle of Fatima: What does science say about miracles and Abduction and the no-miracles argument. In the first post I proposed a trilemma (similar to that by C.S. Lewis) that can be applied, in general, to all miracles, considered as historical facts:

1. Either that fact actually happened, i.e. the witnesses told the truth.

2. Or the fact did not occur, and the witnesses deliberately lied.

3. Or the fact did not occur, but the witnesses did not lie, they were simply wrong, or had been the prey of a collective hallucination, or some equivalent explanation.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The problem of the cosmological constant

Albert Einstein

The value of the cosmological constant Λ in Einstein's equation has gone through many vicissitudes and alternatives:

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The end of the universe

Will the cosmos expand indefinitely, or will its expansion stop one day? What could stop it? It is clear only gravity could do it. The expansion of the universe, which makes galaxies separate, goes against the gravitational attraction, which tries to hold all bodies together.

If we look at Einstein's cosmic equation of general relativity, the question of whether gravity will succeed in stopping the expansion of the universe depends on the relative values and signs of the three terms in the equation. Depending on them, three things can happen: