Monday, October 27, 2003


I find it pretty frightening that TNR is paying Easterbrook to write the equivalent of a late night (stoned) college dorm conversation. His concluding paragraph:

Yet if at Yale, Princeton, Stanford, or top schools, you proposed that there exists just one unobservable dimension--the plane of the spirit--and that it is real despite our inability to sense it directly, you'd be laughed out of the room. Or conversation would grind to a halt to avoid offending your irrational religious superstitions.

To modern thought, one extra spiritual dimension is a preposterous idea, while the notion that there are incredible numbers of extra physical dimensions gives no pause. Yet which idea sounds more implausible--one unseen dimension or billions of them?

Can he really be this stupid? I don't know, maybe he can. I've known a lot of people like him - overly educated, overly enamored with their own thoughts, utterly unaware of their own banality.

For the record, many physicists are religious. Many physicists have expressed the notion that their work is literally a quest to find and understand God. But these physicists also understand that science, religion, and faith are not the same thing. "A spiritual plane" is a phrase which means something in Easterbrook's mind, but which is otherwise meaningless. Physicists understand, even if Easterbrook does not, what their posited extra dimensions mean.

In a country which is overwhelmingly religious, this weird defensiveness by the faithful is odd. How often are people "laughed out of the room" for proposing the existence of some spiritual reality? As an atheist-leaning agnostic I get a president telling me that he doesn't consider me a citizen. I'm not going into victim mode over it, while Easterbrook is channeling David Limbaugh here.

Physicists look at the available empirical evidence, try and construct models which are consistent with it, use their models to try and determine what additional information they might need to deny the confirm or deny the validity of them, and then try again. That, roughly, is science. At the end of it, who knows - they may find God or something like that.

Easterbrook believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the existence of God, and the existence of some fuzzy concept of "spirit." He's welcome to all of these beliefs, but his ridiculous attempts to link science and religion are adolescent blather. And, as a truly oppressed (though only slightly) religious minority, I'm getting really sick of this martyr complex by many Christians in this country.