Mike Palij wrote:
>Perhaps Allen Esterson can comment on one of Raju's claims
>such as the following; quoting from the Wikipedia entry:

|Raju built on E.T. Whittaker's beliefs that Albert Einstein's theories
|of special and general relativity built on the earlier work of Henri 
|Raju claims that they were "remarkably similar", and every aspect of
|special relativity was published by Poincaré in papers between 1898
|and 1905. Raju goes further, saying that Einstein made a mistake that
|much of physics has been built on;[8] he proposes corrections to the
|equations, [9] and says that physics needs to go through a major

Dealing with the last part first, I have to say I'm not inclined to 
spend too much time investigating the ideas (even assuming I could 
begin to understand them) of someone who modestly says of himself:

"My book Cultural Foundations of Mathematics constructs a new 
philosophy of mathematics. Construction is always accompanied by 
destruction, and the book has destroyed not only the Western philosophy 
of mathematics, but incidentally also undermined most Western 
philosophy since the 12th c. Crusades."

Now to Whitaker and Poincaré: I've discovered in my wide reading around 
Einstein in recent years that the Whitaker issue is old hat. The 
eminent physicist Max Born wrote to Einstein that the mathematician 
Edmund Whitaker's second volume of his *History or the Theory of the 
Ether* (1955) "is peculiar in that Lorentz and Poincaré are credited 
with its [theory of relativity] discovery while your papers are treated 
as less important", and that he had tried to persuade his friend 
Whitaker that he was mistaken – to no avail.

Some big guns among historians of physics have since disputed 
Whitaker's view, for example, Gerald Holton

Holton writes: "If we examine Whitaker's analysis closely, it turns out 
to be an excellent example of a scholar's prior commitments and 
prejudgements." He goes on to discuss the issue over the next dozen 
pages to demonstrate how Whitaker misconceived the historical facts. 
(*Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought*, 1988, pp. 196-206)

Similarly, Abraham Pais (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Pais) 
writes of Whitaker's treatment of the history of the special theory of 
relativity that it "shows how well the author's lack of physical 
insight matches his ignorance of the literature." (*Subtle is the Lord: 
The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein*, 1982, p. 168). Earlier 
Pais had devoted some fifteen pages discussing the "precursors" to the 
special theory of relativity, including Lorentz and Poincaré, showing 
that the latter two failed to take the decisive step that Einstein 
achieved in 1905.

More recently the French physicist Roger Cerf published "Dismissing 
renewed attempts to deny Einstein the discovery of special relativity", 

"The method used to support the alleged prior rights consists of 
exaggerating the results obtained by Poincaré, results from which it 
*would have been possible* to infer special relativity. To do so, 
however, would have required doing what Einstein did—recognizing the 
physical nature of the connection that the principle of relativity 
brings about between space and time, and establishing this connection 
as a general law for all natural phenomena. Disregarding these 
necessary steps, which constitute the essence of relativity, makes it 
possible for the discovery of special relativity to be ascribed, as it 
were, *virtually* to Poincaré or to Lorentz and Poincaré."

Cerf also quotes the great physicist Louis de Broglie:

“It could therefore very easily have been Henri Poincaré, and not 
Einstein, who first developed the theory of relativity in all its 
generality, which would have attributed the honor of this discovery to 
French science.” However, “Poincaré did not take the decisive step. He 
left to Einstein the glory of having perceived all the consequences of 
the principle of relativity and, in particular, of having clarified 
through a deeply searching critique of the measures of length and 
duration, the physical nature of the connection established between 
space and time by the principle of relativity.”


In a highly readable essay (2006), Andrzej Wróblewski of Warsaw 
University discusses the Whitaker claims:
(Scroll down to subheading: 7 Einstein, Lorentz, and Poincaré)

Wróblewski writes in that section:
"Nowadays, in the age of internet, information noise is greater than 
ever. The number of amateurish texts which propagate distorted accounts 
of Einstein’s accomplishments over the World Wide Web has increased 
significantly on the occasion of the World Year of Physics. In some 
papers Einstein is even called a plagiarist. Thus, it seems proper to 
conclude this presentation with a factual summary of the works of 
Einstein, Lorentz, and Poincaré."

Allen Esterson
Former lecturer, Science Department
Southwark College, London

RE:[tips] Galileo Was Wrong?
Mike Palij
Fri, 17 Sep 2010 06:31:30 -0700
On Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:02:51 -0500, Michael Smith wrote:
> Well, I didn't mean anything very deep.
> Just that the first scientists were all very religious men. Bacon,
> Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, and Darwin for example.
> They saw (like Aquinus) that an orderly, rational, lawful universe was
> a reflection of those qualities of its creator.
> And studying nature was a way of glorifying God and coming to know the
> mind of God more fully (by discovering the divine order) since his
> creation reflected at least some of his qualities even if only on a
> lower level.
> So science was the result of a worked out theology. One might even
> call science "practical theology" since these men believed their
> investigative activities were glorifying God through the application
> of one of his crowning gifts: reason.

One problem with "shallow" explanations like that provided by
Prof. Smith is that it fails to recognize that others may have made
similar sorts of claims but (a) as a negative indictment of using
Catholicism/Christianity as a basis for science and (b) there are
arguments that such a basis is inferior to that provided by other

Consider the curious case of the mathematician C. K. Raju.  I assume
that most people are unfamiliar with Raju (Chris Green should have
some familiarity with him and his opinions since we are both on a 
list where Raju occasionally posts -- Chris might be able to provide
more information about Raju) and I suggest that one take a look at
his Wikipedia entry for background on him though I would warn that
the "yada-yada"/standard disclaimers should be taken very seriously
here; see:

Perhaps Allen Esterson can comment on one of Raju's claims such
as the following; quoting from the Wikipedia entry:

|Raju built on E.T. Whittaker's beliefs that Albert Einstein's theories
|of special and general relativity built on the earlier work of Henri 
|Raju claims that they were "remarkably similar", and every aspect of
|special relativity was published by Poincaré in papers between 1898
|and 1905. Raju goes further, saying that Einstein made a mistake that
|much of physics has been built on;[8] he proposes corrections to the
|equations, [9] and says that physics needs to go through a major

It is my understanding the Raju's opinion is very much a minority 
and that most scientists and historians of science may find it 
But I am not a physicist and cannot assess the merits of Raju's 

Of relevance to Prof. Smith's post is the following cryptic quote from
the Wilipedia entry:

|Through his research, Raju has claimed that the philosophies that
|underlie subjects like time[11] and mathematics[12] are rooted in the
|theocratic needs of the Roman Catholic Church.[13]

Raju has his own website and blog where he expands on his positions
(Amazon sells two of his books).  A blog entry that goes more into
the issue of the Christianity's influence in the development of Western
Science is available here where he responds to a reviewer's criticisms
of one of his books:

Quoting from his blog:

|Perhaps the reviewer wanted to suppress my point that Newton's
|understanding of the calculus was influenced by his religious belief
|that mathematics is perfect, and that his physics failed for that very
|reason. (Newton thought, like his contemporaries, that "the Bible is
|the word of God and the world is the work of God" written in the
|language of mathematics which must be perfect.) We speak of
|Newton's "laws" and not "hypotheses", because his contemporaries
|accepted his claim that the "laws of God" had been revealed to him.
|Therefore, to be able to use the time derivative in his second "law",
|Newton needed to "perfect" the calculus. He hence made time
|metaphysical, in his Principia, and his philosophical error is shown
|by the way his physics failed (philosophically) and had to be replaced
|by the theory of relativity based on a new understanding of time.
|The point is: Newton's religious beliefs influenced both his 
|and physics, and led to errors in them. We must recall that the impact
|of Newton's religious beliefs on this mathematics and physics could
|not be assessed to date just because Western historians have 
|suppressed Newton's real religious views and his 50 years of 
|leading to his 8-volume History of the Church. (He had documented the
|changes in Christian doctrine and the Bible after the Nicene council.)
|My book explains how the early Western philosophy of mathematics
|was not only explicitly religious, but it agreed with pre-Nicene 
|This early (Platonic-Neoplatonic) philosophy of mathematics was
|transformed during the Crusades, using concoctions like Euclid (for
|which see below). It was this post-Crusade theology that led to 
|erroneous religious beliefs about mathematics and physics. (The 
|part of Newton work related to the computational technique, the 
|borrowed from India.)

Raju has argued that a number of scientific concepts were first 
in India and appropriated by Westerners.  The Catholic church looms
large in this framework because, as Prof. Smith notes, many scientists
were religious but in a Christian framework.  Consider the possibility 
alternative frameworks based on other religions might serve as serious
rivals to western scientific theories.  Consider the following which 
Raju's previously mentioned blog entry:

|-Let us turn now to the two chapters of the book that the reviewer
|claims to have read. The second chapter advances a straightforward
|argument already stated above. Namely, present-day formal mathematics
|is concerned with proving theorems. These "proofs" assume 2-valued
|logic; changing logic would change the theorems. But why should logic
|be 2-valued? The choice is either a (a) cultural or (b) an empirical 
|If logic is chosen on cultural grounds, then 2-valued logic is not 
|for Buddhist and Jain logics, for example, are not two valued. If 
logic is
|chosen on empirical grounds, one must rely on physics, and quantum
|logic is not 2-valued. The reviewer says this argument is very weak.
|So, what is his counter-argument? The reviewer's counter-argument is
|that logic need not be decided empirically!
|Clearly there are two parts to my argument. The nature of logic could
|be decided (a) culturally OR (b) empirically. But the reviewer reduces
|my argument to only part (b), pretending that the first part does not 
|That shows that he is unable to contest the real argument at all, and 
|has an excessively weak understanding of it, or found it necessary to
|dishonestly distort and misrepresent my argument.
|The reviewer should have pondered for a moment before giving such a
|farcical "counter-argument". If logic is decided purely culturally, 
|this choice does not fit into what Buddhists and Jains think, that 
|formal mathematics non-secular and a matter pertaining to a particular
|religion. Anyway, formal mathematics and theorem-proving (unlike
|arithmetic calculation) has no practical value at all. So this sort of
|should be banned from school education in countries like India and US
|which are obliged by law to be secular. That, incidentally, is exactly
|what I have told the National Knowledge Commission in India. (Formal
|mathematics could, of course, continue to be taught in university 
|of theology or culture; I have suggested that too.)

My interpetation of Raju's argument is:

If mathematics can be shown to be based on religious beliefs, then,
in the U.S., mathematics and any disciplines based on those mathematics
would have to be taught in departments of theology because to do 
would be to promote one religious viewpoint over another, at least in
public schools and/or institutions supported by federal funds.  One can
understand why such a veiwpoint might be "controversial", especially
at universities that don't presently have departments of theology
physicists, and other mathematically oriented disciplines would probably
disagree that they are promoting a particular religious viewpoint but 
real question is how do we establish this?).

So, one should be cautious of trying to link mathematics and the 
to a particular religious framework.  Such a position has legal 
and it might turn out to be the case that the relevant religion might 
not be
that one wants to promote (e.g., Buddhism instead of Christianity).

So, is Raju's perspective and arguments valid?  I'm not a historian of 
or a mathematician or a physicist and can't argue from a factual basis 
their validity.  He may be a crank, a gadlfy, and/or a promoter of 
culture and science over Western culture and science.  But he also 
as a lesson about the problems of trying to associate religion with 
especially if that religion is not your own.

-Mike Palij
New York University

P.S. I can hear Prof. Smith laughing.

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