Thursday, 20 March 2008

Arthur C. Clarke: Brilliant Visions But Bad Scientific Blunders

Arthur C. Clarke is known for this film. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Arthur C. Clarke, who died on March 19 at age 90, was one of the most popular science fiction writers of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Its film version was directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke served as a radar specialist during World War II and realised that geostationary satellites could be used in telecommunication. They are satellites that orbit almost directly above the equator and appear to be stationary to an observer on the ground. Clarke popularised the concept in a paper called "Extra-Terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?"published in the magazine Wireless World in 1945.

Clarke had a great trust in the progress of human civilisation. However, at times his optimism bordered on scientism although some of his views were at odds with mainstream science. For instance, he toyed with the idea that an ancient alien civilisation might have produced the human race.

Writing in Skeptical Inquirer in 2001, Clarke outlined his religious beliefs. He called God a hypothetical entity and said, “early in the next millennium the rise of ‘statistical theology’ would prove that there is no supernatural intervention in human affairs. Nor does the ‘problem of evil’ exist; it is an inevitable consequence of the bell-shaped curve of normal distribution.”

Such views have nothing to do with science. Modern science was born and developed in the western world, thanks to a belief in a rational Creator God who designed natural laws. The great pioneers of modern science, such as Johann Kepler, Blaise Pascal and Sir Isaac Newton, were devout Christians.

Christians have not eschewed rocket science, either. Wernher von Braun, the “father” of the Apollo moon program, was a Christian who actually believed it was wrong to exclude the teaching of creation in science classes. The astronauts Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and William Anders who orbited the moon in December 1968 chose the opening verses of Genesis as their Christmas message to earth.

Clarke, however, had little respect for Christianity. He was a firm believer in extraterrestrial life. He supported the SETI@home community that tries to get proof of alien intelligence by monitoring messages they might send us.

It is strange that the SETI people spend billions of taxpayer dollars on listening to messages that might never come. At the same time, they ignore the message coded in our DNA that speaks volumes of intelligent design. But, as Ben Stein shows in his soon to be aired film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed most mainstream scientists do not tolerate any dissenting voices.

Science should be a quest for the truth but unfortunately staunch Darwinists have used their preconceived ideology of naturalism or the stance that nature is all that there is to exclude all views that deviate from theirs. Regrettably, Arthur C. Clarke, the great science fiction writer, chose the side of those who do not want to allow discussion or dissent.