A longtime advocate of exploration and colonization of the solar system and beyond, Dyson studied ways of searching for evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. In the 1950s he was a member of the Project Orion research team, which developed a working model of a spacecraft meant to carry humans to Mars. He wrote a number of books, including Weapons and Hope (1984), Origins of Life (1985), Infinite in All Directions (1988), Imagined Worlds (1998), and The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet (1999). Disturbing the Universe (1979) and the epistolary Maker of Patterns (2018) are autobiographies.The Editors, “Freeman Dyson” at Britannica
Freeman Dyson is not afraid to go out on a cosmic limb. It would be wrong, however, to categorize him as a publicity-hungry peddler of headline-grabbing ideas. In his 60-year career as one of planet Earth’s most distinguished scientists, several things characterize Dyson more than anything else: compassion, caution and overwhelming humanism.
In addition to his work as a scientist, Dyson is a renowned and best-selling author. His most recent book, A Many-Colored Glass, tackles nothing less than biotechnology, religion and the role of life in the universe. He does not shy away from controversy: His recent critiques of the politics of the global warming debate have raised the hackles of some environmentalists. But far from wielding his conclusions like a bludgeon, Dyson wants younger generations of scientists to take away one thing from his work — the necessity to create heresies of their own.TED Page
Freeman Dyson: Proud of not having a Phd “ I think the Ph.D. system is an abomination. It was invented as a system for educating German professors in the 19th century, and it works well under those conditions. It’s good for a very small number of people who are going to spend their lives being professors. But it has become now a kind of union card that you have to have in order to have a job, whether it’s being a professor or other things, and it’s quite inappropriate for that. It forces people to waste years and years of their lives sort of pretending to do research for which they’re not at all well-suited.”
Known iconoclast physicist Freeman Dyson can talk about scientists’ blunders, including Darwin’s
Freeman Dyson: ” … science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries”
Freeman Dyson comments on ID: “My opinion is that most people believe in intelligent design as a reasonable explanation of the universe, and this belief is entirely compatible with science. So it is unwise for scientists to make a big fight against the idea of intelligent design.” (2007)
23 Replies to “American physicist Freeman Dyson (1923–2020)”
R.I.P. Freeman Dyson.
Dyson earlier this month: “To preserve our wildlife as nature evolved it, the machinery of biological evolution must be protected from the homogenizing effects of cultural evolution.”
Yes, Jim. The current wildlife evolved from the originally designed wildlife.
Perhaps someone could ask the Designer what was the thinking behind COVID-19?
It was obviously designed by the Democrats to make Trump look bad. 🙂
Dyson was not alone with his skepticism about climate change. His friend and colleague at Princeton, William Happer, whose specialty is atmospheric physics is also a skeptic about the immanent negative effects of rising CO2 levels, regardless of whether or not the underlying cause of the rise is anthropogenic. Indeed, there are a number of climatologists, meteorologist and other scientists from top tier universities who share this view.
Several of them including Happer have banded together to form the CO2 Coalition which states that its purpose is “to engage thought leaders, policy makers, and the public in an informed and dispassionate discussion about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide and fossil fuels. We seek to shift the debate from the unjustified criticism of CO2 and fossil fuels to one based on a solid scientific foundation. Any discussion of climate change needs to address the extent of our knowledge of the climate system, well-established uncertainties, the limitations of climate models, and the consequences of mandated reductions in CO2 emissions…”
Here is an interview of its current director Dr. Caleb Rossiter.
Notice that Rossiter is a Democrat who doesn’t toe the party line on climate change. (Which is why the “woke” or cool kids don’t like him.) So why did he change his views? The data does not support the claims of the alarmists.
But if we are nothing more than ‘chemicals buzzing’, we are not any different than these creatures:
If we can not control anything because we do not have free will, then it is just ‘natural’ selection in action.
Ask the Chinese. Duh. If they didn’t design it then it evolved. Not all viruses are harmful.
Problems lead to solutions. Which lead to better problems. Which lead to better solutions, etc. We’re always just scratching the surface and will face problems we cannot even conceive of today. This is in contrast to theism, in which there can be no fundamentally new moral problems or solutions. It is a collection of truths handed down from on high by infallible sources, which can never improve. That’s a rather frightening proposition, don’t you think?
Intelligent design pushes the problem up a level without improving it. You’re left with the very same problem you started out with, which has merely pushed into the designer. Specifically, the origin of the universe’s features is the origin of the designer’s features, for which there is no explanation. The designer “just was”, complete with the ability to design universes, already present. However, we can can more efficiently state that the universe “just appeared” complete with those features already present.
It’s unclear how adding a designer to the mix improves the problem.
UD: Let us clear that up for you. If the truth of the matter is “designed,” then by adding a designer to the mix one gets closer to the truth. Why is that so hard to understand?
@9 Critical Rationalist
More frightening than being an illusory self and a meat puppet, the prisoner of a bunch of neurons and chemicals with no free will and no purpose? I do not think so.
First, by moving the goalposts, you seem to be in agreement that adding a designer to the mix doesn’t improve the problem of a fine tuned universe, from an explanatory perspective.
Second, on the other hand, if the truth of the matter is “not designed”, then adding a designer to the mix doesn’t get us closer to truth. It’s unclear what problem this solves either,
@ 10 Truthfreedom
If that were the only other option, then I wouldn’t really be frightened, as that would be an illusion as well. But, fortunately, we’re not limited to the dichotomy that you presented. For example, you seem to have excluded emergent phenomenon all together.
“It’s unclear how adding a designer to the mix improves the problem.”
It’s OK to be unclear. I’m not totally clear on why anything exists. That applies to my own existence as well. However as a former materialist myself (during two separate periods), I’ve had the benefit of a lifelong experiment, and trust me, a highly functioning life complete with quite an astounding series of synchronicities is better than the one before where the synchronicities were much more painful as well as can be said for personal relationships.
Why anything exists isn’t wasn’t the problem I was referring to. Rather, I was referring to the appearance of design in the universe.
However, if the question “why is there something other than nothing?” underlies your belief in God, this seems to be parochial (narrow in scope) as we could just as well ask “Why would there be nothing, instead of something.” Specifically, our conception of “nothing” has changed rather significantly.
@14 Critical Rationalisr
Err, no… Materialism is trying to change its meaning to salvage itself. But you can not change reality, no matter how much you try.
Islamist fundamentalism is less dogmatic than materialism.
@14 Critical Rationalist:
This is absolutely stupid. Sorry, I am being blunt, but I am tired of materialist non-sense.
Nothing can simply not be, because it means non-existent. . Be is the property of what exists.
Save yourself from embarrassment, please.
The only “explanation” that the materialist has is an infinite regress of contingent causes… Exactly what does that explain? Of course, I suppose an infinite regress is possible. Okay, now how do you prove it?
CR, calling the tail of a sheep a fifth leg neither gives it power to act as a leg nor allows those so duped to think clearly. Nothing in relevant context is non-being, a hypothetical quantum foam or the like is not non-being. KF
Critical Rationalist’s internet moniker doesn’t reflect the content of it’s posts.
How did “Critical Rationalist” end up back here again? The last time he was here I decided to ignore him because despite user name he doesn’t understand the basics of logic. He is not alone. That’s true of virtually all of our regular interlocutors who dogmatically try to advance a materialistic world view.
For example, back in June 2018 I had this exchange with Seversky who I believe has been on this site
In a response to an OP entitled, “As Astrology Goes Mainstream, Will Big Science Start To Accommodate It?” I wrote @ #1:
To which Seversky @ #2 replied, point by point:
Me: Atheistic naturalism/materialism provides no answers to mankind’s deepest spiritual and moral needs.
Seversky: “I agree. It can’t. But if you assume there is no God then we are forced to confront the reality that we are on our own, we are all we have so where do we go from here?”
Me: It is a morally, spiritually and intellectually bankrupt world view, yet many people irrationally and absurdly cling to it.
Seversky “If atheism, by definition, cannot provide moral and spiritual guidance then calling it bankrupt for not doing what it cannot do is unfair. That does not prevent us from constructing “worldviews” and moral codes that are atheist.”
Me: Why? They cannot give a rational explanation. They do not know but don’t even know they don’t know…
Seversky: “As I said, atheists can construct rational worldviews and moral codes. It’s just that they cannot appeal to the unquestionable authority of some deity to support them.”
Notice, that Seversky basically concedes each of my points.
Of course that brings up a number of other questions like: who is obligated to follow a moral code constructed by atheists? Does it apply to just them or everyone else (society)? Do any human constructed moral codes carry any kind of real morally binding obligations?
It’s because of irrational nonsense like this that I have said here many time before, “If I were an atheistic materialist, I would leave other people alone.” Why? Because atheistic materialism has nothing to offer as a world view.
Sad but true.
Materialism divorced itself from reality long time ago.
Its followers rely on faith and dogma.
Let me jump on this bandwagon.
I have generally given up attempting to have a serious conversation with any of the regular interlocutors. Maybe if I’m feeling like I’d like to read some of my own writing on occasion. 😉
Historically, there have been a few atheists who have had some honest insights and have made some honest claims. For example, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), said at the conclusion of his book, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, ”What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”
Specifically Wittgenstein was referring to what philosophers, or really anyone, can say about metaphysics, morality and ethics– not just very little but virtually nothing.
Later he took back what he had said in Tractatus because he recognized that some of his claims were logically self-refuting. However, from what I have seen from our regular interlocutors he was basically right. World views like atheistic materialism can inform us very little about purpose and meaning, morality and ethics or epistemology and ontology. It would be better for them (indeed, they would make more sense logically) if they stayed silent and stayed away. Obviously, truly honest atheists do not show here because they know they’ve got nothing to say.