Most helpful critical review
hate of religion caused our progress
on February 19, 2004
the writings of nietzsche attribute human achievement to the breaking-away from societal constraints BY "uebermensch" - supermen. in nietzsche's view, achievement is due to those who can defy and innovate on what society expects. compare galileo to st augustine, for example. if galileo was not skeptical of the church's doctrines, we'd probably still not have spacecraft. i believe the basic claim he is making, viz., that the west has achieved the most, culturally, is NOT because it has protestant christianity (think of michelangelo and leonardo da vinci and plato!) - rather, i believe it is because christianity was so repulsive to intelligent persons that they strove to __defeat__ it by examining nature. now that christianity is defeated, in other words, now that secularism, capitalism, and free speech, are the moral norms, naturally, the scientists no longer have a serious real enemy, so they have slackened off.
furthermore, i believe that there are too many scientists now; in the nineteenth century, only an elite of rich "gentlemen" could afford to study science. now everyone does. so there are more monkeys looking at the same data and writing the same stuff.
hence less progress and more nitpicking about details of standard
ideas. if one reads thomas kuhn's work - the structure of scientific revolutions - one sees that science progresses in bursts where a genius steps forward to make a change. but what, actually, is left for science to do? cure aids? cure cancer? get to mars? get close-to-lightspeed space travel? and what else? not much. i conclude that science is slowing down because it's done its job.