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September 01, 2006

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Scientific truths are only provable by using scientific methods, sceptic-proof.

Let us resist the urge to slide into Dennetism, or mindless reductionistic materialism of a fundamentalist nature.
For a justifiably scathing review of Mr Dennetts latest broadside at religion check out the link;

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/books/review/19wieseltier.html?ex=1298005200&en=9ecb4016f9ff8682&ei=5090


Brian
As a true believer in science I wonder what you feel that it can prove? Remembering that proof means (strictly speaking) absolutely incontrovertible evidence that applies under all circumstances, all times and all possible known conditions.
As a trained scientist myself (Environmental and Resource use) I question sciences ability to unequivocally answer the real big questions, such as:

Give proof of exactly what may have happened at the big bang and prove exactly when it occured?

Prove what was there before the big bang and more so, why it happened? Why is there something rather than nothing?

Prove exactly how and why life should have emerged from the primordial ooze and explain exactly what that condition was?

Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly what the process was that engendered mind in primitive hominids and prove explicitly how that happened?

Prove exactly how subjective self awareness entered the same primitive hominid body brain mechanism a few millenia later?

Prove beyond all possible doubt the existence of a wholly objective, wholly material world of matter that exists wholly independently of the evolved subjective mind that observes it?

Prove in absolute terms what matter may be and its absolute composition?

Any honest scientist who wishes to resist the urge to slide into fundamentalist reductionist scientistic mechanistic cod philosophy would say that these big questions will resist all attempts at ultimate resolution and a strict definition of proof.
Maybe that they remain as best hypotheses to explain much phenomena, but that does not constitute any kind of proof in rigidly applied ontological sense.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think religion has these proofs either. What I wish to resist is the tendency of a churchless site to deteriorate into another faith. The faith of scientism.
Let it be known that fundamentalist scientistic reductionists would reduce every aspect of human knowledge and impetus to thinly veiled biological determinism.
Thus everything about human creativity and exploration, from the Mona Lisa to human compassion are somehow barely disguised genetically determined survival mechanisms.
The fundamentalists of both sides worship an old man with a long white beard; one is called God and the other is Darwin.

Ja love

Nick, I agree that neither science nor religion has final answers to the big questions you addressed. But you used terms like "exactly" and "shadow of a doubt."

Science doesn't claim to have perfect knowlecge of anything. There always is the possibility of knowing more, or of revising what is already known.

It seems obvious, though, that science knows a lot more about the physical universe than religion does. For example, the big bang isn't perfectly understood--especially what preceded it--but science has been able to explain the composition of elements in the universe with remarkable precision, based on big bang theory.

Similarly, the theory of evolution has many areas that need to be fleshed out. But molecular biology confirms, through DNA research, how random mutations lead to evolutionary changes through natural selection.

It's a matter of balance, as you seem to be saying. Religion opens us up to possiblities beyond the physical. Yet science keeps our eyes open to what is right before us now--material reality.

Brian
Bravo. That is a fine view of the key drivers behind genuine scientific exploration.
I find that science oversteps its limits when some of its adherents suggest that it has got it all in the bag (fundamentalist reductionism) or almost got it all in the bag(messianic scientism).
I like the view of Richard Dawkins, who thinks that everything is determined by the laws of nature, and yet is still in awe of such laws and regards how and why they are as they are as profound mystery. Of course he doesn't posit supernatural exlicans for the mystery. But for me, the awe and majesty and mystery are enough to be going on with.
I still think it is healthy science not to slide into the orthodoxy of reductionism and worship at the altar of the blessed trinity of Darwin, Dawkins and Dennett!

Nick;
Your comments are to the point. A number of years back, when I was writing my thesis, half of what I wrote disproved some earlier published discoveries. The other professor and research group, at another university, were not pleased with our publication. I could never reproduce the other group's synthetic procedure. Their results were not REPRODUCEABLE. Again, that fundamentalist Professor was not pleased at all with me and my Professor. Throughout my graduate school days, my Professor always repeated, RESERVE THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG. Our research and discoveries, will one day be modified and
improved on. At least my procedure was Reproduceable.

The most "truth" about Abraham's "Lord God," which we can acquire at this time, can only be learned through the teachings about Him delivered by ALL the Prophets, from Abraham through Muhammad. Each Prophet added to the "story." I am not talking about the "rules" delivered to the individual groups concerning their daily rituals, etc. Different societies received such instructions appropriate for them. But the revelations about God grew as mankind's ability to comprehend them improved.

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