Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

At Mind Matters News: Is a science writer John Horgan’s “agnosticism” a futile pursuit?


Horgan, a creative thinker and able writer, is agnostic about quantum mechanics, consciousness, and God. But let’s look at the bases for that. For example,

Quantum mechanics Introducing consciousness into physics undermines its claim to objectivity. Moreover, as far as we know, consciousness arises only in certain organisms that have existed for a brief period here on Earth. So how can quantum mechanics, if it’s a theory of information rather than matter and energy, apply to the entire cosmos since the big bang? Information-based theories of physics seem like a throwback to geocentrism, which assumed the universe revolves around us. Given the problems with all interpretations of quantum mechanics, agnosticism, again, strikes me as a sensible stance.” – John Horgan, “What God, Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Have in Common” at Scientific American (August 14, 2021)”

Well, a scientific approach to anything must hold all known past discoveries in tension with unknown future discoveries. The reason quantum physicists have not been able to eliminate the conscious observer from quantum mechanics (quantum physics) is not that they didn’t want to. It was that they couldn’t. Observation created their measurements. See, for example, “In quantum physics, reality really is what we choose to observe. Physicist Bruce Gordon argues that idealist philosophy is the best way to make sense of the puzzling world of quantum physics.”

Now, we don’t have to be idealists. But we should see that the physicists who report on quantum mechanics are simply recounting their observations. It is not clear what we should be “agnostic” about, apart from the need to respect the fact that we do not know all things. We make reasonable decisions all the time about what to believe, despite not knowing all things.

News, “Is a science writer’s “agnosticism” a futile pursuit?” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: The agnosticism Horgan espouses sounds like hoping indefinitely for answers that conform to a materialist view of the world.

Note: Horgan’s book, Mind–Body Problems is available free online at the link.

You may also wish to read: Why did a prominent science writer come to doubt the AI apocalypse? John Horgan’s endorsement of Erik J. Larson’s new book critiquing of AI claims stems from considerable experience covering the industry for science publications. Horgan finds that, despite the enormous advances in neuroscience, genetics, cognitive science, and AI, our minds remain “as mysterious as ever.”

Three types of agnosticism: - I don't yet know, but I am actively searching, with an open mind (sincere agnostic) - I don't know, I don't much care to search, and I am happy that way (lazy agnostic) - no one knows, we cannot know, and anyone who claims otherwise is wrong (raging agnostic) Which type is John Horgan?Fasteddious
August 23, 2021
11:31 AM

Leave a Reply