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. (, [ok-si-mawr–uh, –mohr–uh],
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 – (
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?”
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.
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.