Huffington Post, has an article in which “Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science” – a document signed by eight individuals – is heralded as the beginning of the “Revolution III” in science, next to Copernicus’s heliocentrism and Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Clarifying the revolutions
Heliocentrism was actually discovered by the Greek astronomer and mathematician, Aristarchus of Samos, who calculated the sizes of the moon and sun and their distances from earth using the physical data from the observation of the eclipses of the moon. His calculation suggested that the sun was much bigger than the earth, from which he concluded that the smaller earth ought to be going around the larger sun. Copernicus, also an astronomer and mathematician, revived heliocentrism almost 1800 years after Aristarchus.
Charles Darwin received his BS (ordinary as opposed to tripos) degree in natural history from Cambridge University. While at Cambridge, he belonged to Plinian Society, a group of students who believed in the materialistic nature of the world. After he proposed his theory of evolution, Darwin thought constantly about the mechanism by which evolution takes place. Eventually, in his book The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, published in 1868, he introduced the idea of gemmules, material particles that supposedly were transferred from parents to the offspring. These were the precursors of genes, proposed by Gregor Mendel.
Dave Pruett, the author of the article in Huffington Post, refers to three scientific revolutions: heliocentrism, which reset our “physical place” in the universe;” Darwin’s theory of evolution, which reset our “biological place;” and “the third, now in progress, will ultimately redefine our psychic/spiritual place in the cosmos.” And he identifies the writers of the “manifesto” as the leaders of this third revolution. He fails to mention that
with Darwin’s gemmules, Mendel’s genes, and finally Crick and Watson’s DNA molecule, the biological revolution became also physical.
Acknowledging the rejection of the authors of the “manifesto” by the mainstream scientists, Pruett labels the authors as “mavericks” and claims that Copernicus and other magnificent figures in science were also rejected by the mainstream science. This is completely wrong!
Copernicus and Darwin were mainstream scientists in their respective fields whose ideas were welcomed by many other mainstream scientists of the period. Many scholars were intrigued by heliocentrism, and urged a reluctant Copernicus to publish his theory (see here under the heading “heliocentrism”). Darwin’s theory of evolution was co-discovered by another mainstream naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, and was soon recognized by the majority of mainstream biologists.
Copernicus and Darwin did not have to write a “manifesto” to convince the scientific community of their ideas. They published them in the journals and books available to mainstream scientists and let that community decide if the ideas were valid. A manifesto is a political mission statement written by people with political agenda; a prime example being the “Communist Manifesto” written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.