Science.

A friend asked me what my philosophical beliefs are, how I feel about alchemy and astrology and whether I think there is a God. He didn’t know this site existed and so I pointed him toward my Post Christianity post.

His reply was that he understood me to be an atheist but that he felt that the question had not been answered fully and followed with whether or not I thought “so called science” had all the answers.

It was not the first time I have heard the term used and not the first time it struck me as indicative of a foregone conclusion. It was however the first time it really struck me as an oxymoron. (noun, plural oxymora [ok-si-mawruh, –mohruh],oxymorons. Rhetoric. 1. a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous,seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”.)

It is an oxymoron because it implies uncertainty, that is to say it describes science as something that is unreliable or hit or miss in some sense, but science is – ( noun 1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws:). That is to say “so called science” is defined as unreliable knowledge. Knowledge is by definition a known quantity – hence, reliable.

The definition above relates to a single scientific discipline however, but in the context of our discussion it referred to the entirety of these disciplines in the same vein as the broader discussion going on globally – i.e. Science is the body of disciplines which encompass the study of the universe that surrounds us, from the very small to the very large, with branches such as physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, etc, all of which use mathematics to a great extent as a tool.

The “scientific method” – the method we employ in order to discover new science (knowledge) relies on experiments that can be independently performed by anyone with the means and inclination to do so, whose results are published for all to see and critique. This ensures that all conclusions are thoroughly verified and tested before they are accepted as truths. What’s more they are repeated to ensure that the results and therefore the conclusions of those results are reliable by means of standard deviation. This method has evolved to be more and more reliable over the past two centuries and the fact that you can read this text on an LCD screen is part of the tangible evidence of its’ reliability

So where’s the philosophy in all this Kirk? you’re going off on another rant.

Well, now the questions become “Does science as described above have all the answers?” and if “No”, “Is there any merit to Alchemy and Astrology, or even a religious philosophical system?”

Well the short answer to the first question is a simple “No”. Why? because we have only been at it for a very short time, and the universe is really big, and a lot is happening in it. Furthermore most of the time that we have been asking questions about it, our tools were limited to our own eyes and our mind, so one could say we have only been at it seriously since the Renaissance.
What’s more, there are unanswerable questions: “Is there a God?”. God is defined as a supernatural being that is to say, beyond nature, or above the plane of nature – the universe. If God exists we cannot measure it, if we could measure it (by implanted vision or talking or praying) that would imply its’ pertaining to the universe and thus not supernatural. Even if the interaction is one way say, from God to us, that still means it can be part of the universe and so a subject to its’ laws which again violates its’ supernatural definition. If a God does not exist, we have no, and will never have means of knowing this with any degree of certainty because of the nature of the definition.
There are also nonsensical questions: “What happened before the Big Bang?”. The Big Bang is an event which created the space-time continuum, so the question is equivalent to “What is south of the South Pole?” At the South Pole, all directions are North. Asking the question is like trying to divide by 0 – nonsense.

So we cannot conclusively answer the “Is there a God?” question, so let’s instead shift it to something that we could possibly tackle with a few more questions.

“Is it possible there is a God?” – “Yes” – it is certainly possible, if we define anything as being supernatural i.e. not beholden to the laws of the universe (known or not) then that concept is possible, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The issue with this is that God is defined as being the primal source, prime cause or the more archaic prime mover but even the question of “Is God there?” subordinates its existence to the concept of truth and the very idea that God is subordinate to anything makes the entire concept collapse making God’s existence more and more unlikely.

To conclude this answer, in my view, the existence of a God is irrelevant, and the pursuit of an answer to an unanswerable question is a waste of time.It is irrelevant because if it does exist, we cannot interact by definition and so it cannot communicate with us and vice versa, no communication results in no influence and thus no relevance – it would be nice to know, but we can’t, so why bother when our lifespans are limited? furthermore why dedicate our lives to something that is impossible to be sure of when we could instead pursue concepts that come with some benefit.

“Alright, what about Alchemy and Astrology, why are they pseudo-science”. We defined science as something that is known, rigorously. So, what makes a pseudo-science.

Alchemy is the process of transmuting a substance into another by way of chemical reaction and/or incantations, it was the precursor to the modern science of chemistry. While Alchemy was able to observe correlations between certain interactions (Vitriol transmutes metals into salts) and their effects, it could not explain the underlying mechanism that lead to those effects and so results were, understandably, unreliable. They thought they knew something because certain predictions came true, but they did not understand why or how so… pseudo-science. Eventually alchemists became chemists as the mechanisms of reactions became more and more understood making alchemy obsolete in its’ use to pursue facts about the natural world.

Astrology is the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of heavenly bodies on human affairs. Astrology relies on correlations between astronomical positions of planets and stars and human behavior and psychology (i.e. if Jupiter is in this constellation such and such will happen to you or your psychology). This is a fallacy. Correlation does not imply causation as shown here. Astrology has not produced a theory (read a system of proofs) by which the correlations it presents as fact come to be. They think they know something because certain predictions come true but they do not understand how or why so… pseudo-science.

 

As a rational being I try my best to base my decisions on the best approximation of truth that I can. Neither religion, alchemy or astrology provide anything close to the best approximation, let alone truth.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s