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Science and the Myth of Progress (Perennial Philosophy) Paperback – July 30, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In these days of incredible technological advances, when almost nothing seems impossible, the question of spiritual knowledge is often overlooked. In this volume, Zarandi, a research scientist at the California Institute of Technology, gathers essays by over a dozen scholars in science, theology and metaphysics that tackle issues raised by modern scientific inquiry-i.e., how much of what we think we know do we really know, and how much progress have we actually made? The contributors' assessments differ from the common understanding of the correlation between science and spirit: while acknowledging the value and contribution science has rendered, Zarandi posits that "the contemporary belief in an endless progress tends toward an almost total rejection of spiritual wisdom's worldviews as being naïve, outmoded and contrary to empirical evidence." This compilation attempts to "provide access to information" that may enlighten readers who believe there is another realm to reality beyond the physical world, a realm not knowable by reason and scientific inquiry.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Dr. Mehrdad M. Zarandi was born in 1963 in Kerman, Iran. From an early age, he had a keen interest in science and mathematics, which resulted in his taking a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the Isfahan University of Technology. His undergraduate liberal arts studies brought him into contact with the works of contemporary perennialist authors, whose perspective has had a profound effect on his intellectual formation.

He earned Master of Science and Doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, where he has continued to work as a research scientist in aeronautics. In addition to his technical research and publications, he has enjoyed a wide range of teaching experiences with undergraduates in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and the history and philosophy of science.

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Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Philosophy
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: World Wisdom (July 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 094153247X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0941532471
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,212,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
While most people (in the United States, at least) would say they believe in God when asked, no one would argue that traditional spiritual beliefs are on the decline, and religious believers are frequently ostracized as backward. Churches, in an ever-frantic bid to make their doctrine more "relevant" to the modern age, make more concessions to modernity with every passing year (the result is often tragicomic attempts to make religion interesting or palatable to the masses in the form of books such as the "Gospel According to the Simpsons" and other such tripe.) The beliefs of the average person even fifty years ago are now the subject of ridicule, even though the vast majority of people have little or no understanding of science at all. (Try taking a random poll at the mall and see how many people in a hundred know what punctuated equilibrium or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is.)
Meanwhile, the technocratic establishment possesses a hegemony that is absolutely unprecedented in world history. One cannot issue an opinion on a matter unless in the possession of the appropriate "credentials", and something can be derided as obsolete if it is labeled "unscientific." Should we consider the ascendancy of reductionist science to be some sort of triumphal progress from earlier eras of darkness and barbarism? Or have we merely substituted one dogmatism for a more perilous one?
The essayists in _Science and the Myth of Progress_ answer the latter question in the affirmative. Carl Jung once stated that "you can take away a man's gods, only to give him others in return." When seen in this light, there's very little doubt that the Dawkins/Shermer/Sagan/_Skeptic_ Magazine crowd represent Grand Inquisitors in our current "reign of quantity".
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This book is valuable in that it is a good overall review of various arguments against materialism and scientism that seems so well established and anchored in our modern world view. This book will help start ripping out those deep dry roots. A new dimension and view of reality will start opening up and you will see that your concept of reality has been so limited by modern science and that existence is much more profound and mysterious than the materialist philosophy conveyed to you in school and popular culture. You can skip around and read on various subjects. Some of the chapters are excellent and its a good introduction to the various authors that champion the traditionalist philosophy and metaphysics.
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Format: Paperback
"Science and the myth of progress" is an anthology criticizing modern science in general and the theory of evolution in particular from a mostly Traditionalist or Perennialist viewpoint. Excerpts from the works of Fritjof Schuon, René Guenon and S. Hossein Nasr are prominently featured. A few authors who aren't Traditionalists have also been included. Thus, there is a lengthy contribution by William Dembski from the Discovery Institute.

Needless to say, the answers offered by the authors of this volume are very "ancient" or "medieval", something they would probably wholeheartedly admit themselves. Thomism, Neo-Platonist emanationism, occult correspondences between the macrocosm and the microcosm, Intelligent Design and ideas similar to Theosophy are proposed as the alternative to modern science and scientism. The authors seem to accept the standard creationist arguments about irreducible complexity, lack of transitional forms etc.

My main objection to this volume is that it feels very heterogenous. Only a few articles deal with what seems to be the main point of the anthology: that materialism in science has made the modern world go astray, that "progress" is really an illusion, and that a return to some kind of spirituality is therefore called for. The various authors also have somewhat divergent perspectives. Some argue that the modern worldview is too subjective and relativistic, others seem to suggest the opposite: precisely because all perspectives are subjective, modern science cannot have a monopoly on truth. The most thoughtful contribution comes from Wendell Berry, who simply wants more humility and admission of ignorance, a position at least some scientists would be able to agree with.
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