Ancient Wisdom and Modern Misconceptions
Publisher: Angelico Press
Publication Date: March 25, 2013
A Critique of Contemporary Scientism
For many years, Wolfgang Smith has been putting forward an expansive vision of the traditional Christian cosmos alongside an incisive critique of the truncated perspective of contemporary scientism. In Ancient Wisdom and Modern Misconceptions he shows how the physical sciences, freed from prevailing misconceptions, actually corroborate the traditional wisdom long thought to be dead. Basing himself in part upon epistemological considerations first enunciated by Sir Arthur Eddington, he shows that the so-called physical universe proves finally to be constructed by the strategies of the experimental physicist himself. Following this he delves into the foundations of astrophysics and planetary astronomy, and then proceeds to elucidate the concepts of Intelligent Design and vertical causation. He concludes by showing how Anthropic Coincidence should be rightly considered.
With equal mastery Smith presents the serious reader with glimpses of the perennial wisdom eclipsed since the Enlightenment, and shows that traditional cosmology, so far from being disqualified, actually provides the keys to an understanding of science itself. No one entering the fray of current debates regarding "science and religion" can afford to neglect the immense implications of this work by Wolfgang Smith.
After graduating from Cornell University at age eighteen with majors in physics, mathematics and philosophy, Wolfgang Smith took an M.S. from Purdue, following which he spent three years at Bell Aircraft Corporation as an aerodynamicist. During this period he gained recognition for his pioneering papers on the effect of diffusion fields, which provided a theoretical solution to the so-called re-entry problem for space flight. After receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University, Dr. Smith pursued a professorial career in that field. Soon however his center of interest shifted from the pursuit of science to the critique of scientism and the rediscovery of metaphysics as a theological discipline. He has authored six books and numerous articles, and is today widely recognized as a leading authority in these twin fields.
I have read four of Smith's books now (this, Cosmos and Transcendence, Theistic Evolution, and Physics and Vertical Causation). This is the most comprehensive, spanning his theories about the "quantum paradox" (more thoroughly than in P&VC), geocentricism, Darwinian evolution, and intelligent design. Smith's works can be frustrating to a beginner, because he is always referring back to other previous works (since they largely build on one another, this is very easily forgivable). But if you have to get one and only one book by Smith, this is which will give you the best mix of diversity of topics and depths of treatment. (If you are prepared for more than one, start with Cosmos and Transcendence)
Highly recommended. Smith is a philosopher, but his mode of attacking modern thought is not "from above," but "from below." While many philosophers can critique modern science for abandoning common sense (most notably Aristotlean/Thomistic substantial forms), Smith begins with critiquing one of the major problems in quantum physics itself (the "quantum enigma") and works his way back to traditional philosophy. It is meant to convince people who are not already convinced by the ancient philosophers, to show how ancient philosophy can improve modern science, not merely critique it.