Wednesday, February 11, 2009

more jet stream philosophy: vitalist vs mechanist

Is there a vital force that makes life exist or is it all mechanical and chemical. The vitalists which once were king hang on but their realm has become the land of mystery. If we don't know, than there must be a God. The mechanists and most of my students hold that if you can't prove there is a vital force than there is none. In science, I don't preach vital forces. If I can't prove it, it is not the realm of science.
The Jet stream is where I want to be, riding the stream... one the edge of science and the other edge of the spiritual. I do believe that makes for some fine partnerships.
Sometimes the jet stream gets broken. Earlier this week, I hand out four weather maps, cutting across northern PA is a stationary front, in the same area on another map, the jet stream is a mess. Unfocussed one could say. Things get stagnant at times when I like the weather, stop flowing.
Then there are the nematodes and rotifers that live in ponds and survive when things dry up. The resurrectionists cried out that they come back to life. The anti-resurrectionists said they still have a metabolism. Truth turns out that they change some things around at the cellular level, but do stop their metabolism. If one's metabolism stops, is one dead? Do they come back to life? Does it matter? Does anyone ever win this arguement.

If I can prove how a nematode functions, will that destroy my faith?
Sometimes I feel it takes two minds to keep aloft in the stream.


  1. It can be difficult, riding that jet stream. The winds on both sides get pretty strong.

  2. Questions for which there are no clear answers yet are the fun part of science. The edge of that stream is where it is interesting. I never heard of these nematodes and rotifers before but it is a very cool survival mechanism.

    The phrase "destroy my faith" jumps out at me. I wonder if that could ever happen for me. I don't think so but ...

  3. For me, "faith" is not something I have to produce, but a gift that He produces in me; and it can come via science, nature, prayer closet, any number of ways. One stands upon one knows, realizing there will never be a place in this life where one knows it all. The confusing part is the clutter of all those voices who want to tell you they DO know it all...

  4. Kievas--- I thought you could relate to this post

    Kathryn--- yes, the mystery is what inspires science, but some will always remain.

    Jim--- I will trust you to put me in my place if I ever try to tell all something because "I know it all"


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