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The Myth of Science
16-09-2007, 08:38 AM
Post: #1
The Myth of Science

When I was younger I thought science held the answers to just about anything.

But the older I get, the more sceptical I become.

For instance, it turns out that most of the universe is made up of something called 'dark matter' but scientists haven't a clue what it is.

Might almost be enough to make you turn to religion for an answer.

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16-09-2007, 10:50 AM
Post: #2
The Myth of Science
Unforunately, science doesn't know everything. What is the universe made of is just one of probably hundreds of questions that the scientific world has no answer for. Science also doesn't know why we have so few genes - in fact, it knows remarkably little about genetics at all. It doesn't know whether we are the sole inhabitants of the Universe either. But that doesn't mean these things will never been known. However, I don't have a problem accepting that science may possibly not have the answer to everything. I'm not sure I ever believed that it did.

Science is largely based on probably theory. Nothing is actually proved to be true - rather it's only proved not to be false (which isn't exactly the same thing).

I'm not sure that religion could provide answers that science can't though. But personally, I don't see the need to know the answer to everything. I find it perfectly reasonable that there may be some questions that will never be answered. I almost see that as being the reason for existence.

As an aside, I don't see why science and religion can't co-exist personally. A belief in God does not in itself equal a non-belief in science, and vice versa.
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16-09-2007, 08:45 PM
Post: #3
The Myth of Science
Figaro Wrote:But that doesn't mean these things will never been known. However, I don't have a problem accepting that science may possibly not have the answer to everything. .

THere's a school of thought that believes that in time through science we will have just about all the answers, that maybe we don't know such-and-such right now but given enough time we will. That's an act of faith though, and to be honest rather short-sighted. The problem with it is that we can only understand what we are able to understand, and there is no reason to suppose that everything in nature is such that we are able to conceive of it with our own somewhat limited faculties. I think at the moment the sub-atomic world of quantum physics is showing that not only are things stranger than we thought, they are stranger than we will ever be able to properly comprehend.

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19-09-2007, 07:18 PM
Post: #4
The Myth of Science
survivorfan Wrote:THere's a school of thought that believes that in time through science we will have just about all the answers, that maybe we don't know such-and-such right now but given enough time we will. That's an act of faith though, and to be honest rather short-sighted. The problem with it is that we can only understand what we are able to understand, and there is no reason to suppose that everything in nature is such that we are able to conceive of it with our own somewhat limited faculties.

OK. But, how do you define "what we are able to understand"? What are these limits on our faculties?

I admit, I am talking out of my depth here (I'm not a scientist), but man's ability to "understand the uncomprehensible" has increased over the generations. We have discovered electricity, gravity, flight. We have started a limited exploration of the Universe.....all of these things were once uncomprehesible to man, but not any longer.

Every great discovery is made by a series of small steps - man understands one small part, and that comprehension leads to another, slighter greater discovery until the greater mystery is solved.

survivorfan Wrote:I think at the moment the sub-atomic world of quantum physics is showing that not only are things stranger than we thought, they are stranger than we will ever be able to properly comprehend.

Perhaps. I don't know enough about the sub-atomic world of quantum physics to either agree or disagree with your statement - in fact, strike that, I'll admit I know nothing about the sub-atomic world of quantum physics. But what makes you think that religion may hold the answers?
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19-09-2007, 07:53 PM
Post: #5
The Myth of Science
Figaro Wrote:I don't know enough about the sub-atomic world of quantum physics to either agree or disagree with your statement - in fact, strike that, I'll admit I know nothing about the sub-atomic world of quantum physics. But what makes you think that religion may hold the answers?

Me neither, although apparently odd things happen like particles existing in two places simultaneously, and other things that don't fit in with our way of thinking. Bill Bryson makes a good stab at trying to paint a picture of this in his 'Short history of nearly everything'.

No idea if religion holds any answers.

Also, sorry, can't define what we're able to understand or what the limits are other than that it's the limits set by our own human perception/ way of thinking etc.

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07-10-2007, 10:29 AM
Post: #6
The Myth of Science
Not an especially interesting thread this going on the response (thanks at least to Figaro for having a stab at it) - but going back to that Bryson book, I dug it out again because my son was asking about how the universe started.

Came across this - he's talking about the latest scientific ideas on the creation, 'Big bang' etc:

"It seems impossible that you can get something out of nothing, but the fact that once there wqas nothing and now there is a universe is evident proof that you can. It may be that our universe is merely part of many larger universes, some in different dimensions, and that Big Bangs are going on all over the place all the time. Or it may be that space and time had some other forms altogether before the Big Bang - forms too alien for us to imagine - and that the Big Bang represents some transition phase where the universe went from a form we can't understand to one we almost can.

'These are very close to religious questions' Dr Andrei Linde, a cosmologist at Stanford, told the New York Times in 2001.

SO there you go - one scientist wondering if in the final analysis it comes down to religious issues.

If not religious, I would say philosophical, wouldn't you say?

I think my point is that the spirit of the age looks to science as having the final word in these matters , whereas this is probably a mistake.

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07-10-2007, 04:10 PM
Post: #7
The Myth of Science
survivorfan Wrote:Not an especially interesting thread this going on the response (thanks at least to Figaro for having a stab at it) - but going back to that Bryson book, I dug it out again because my son was asking about how the universe started.

Came across this - he's talking about the latest scientific ideas on the creation, 'Big bang' etc:

"It seems impossible that you can get something out of nothing, but the fact that once there wqas nothing and now there is a universe is evident proof that you can.

I hope this isn't an extremely daft question, but how does Bryson, or anyone else, know that "once there was nothing"?

If infinity is never ending and that exists, why then does everything have to have a "beginning"?

survivorfan Wrote:It may be that our universe is merely part of many larger universes, some in different dimensions, and that Big Bangs are going on all over the place all the time. Or it may be that space and time had some other forms altogether before the Big Bang - forms too alien for us to imagine - and that the Big Bang represents some transition phase where the universe went from a form we can't understand to one we almost can.

'These are very close to religious questions' Dr Andrei Linde, a cosmologist at Stanford, told the New York Times in 2001.

SO there you go - one scientist wondering if in the final analysis it comes down to religious issues.

I'm pretty sure that there are many scientists who "found God" as a result of the kind of questions you are posing here. The fact that they entered their profession believing that the answer to everything lay in science, only to discover that science really does know very little about certain things, made them ponder the existence of God.

As I said before, I don't think Science and God are necessarily mutually exclusive.

I'm probably not taking this discussion anywhere with my comments, as I don't know enough about either Science or God to comment very intelligently. What you need here is Blink. Where's Blink when you need him?
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01-06-2008, 06:53 PM
Post: #8
The Myth of Science
Figaro Wrote:I hope this isn't an extremely daft question, but how does Bryson, or anyone else, know that "once there was nothing"?

If infinity is never ending and that exists, why then does everything have to have a "beginning"?

I shall revive a dormant thread.

I think you hit the nail on the head here when it comes to our understanding of things through science. Everything we have ever experienced as humans had a beginning, we were born, our food was grown, our houses were built, we even know that our planet and our sun were once "born." So it is hard for us to comprehend something to not have a beginning, it doesn't mean that it can't be true though.

Back to quantum physics. I did a course in quantum physics as part of my degree and it went completely over my head, but what I seemed to understand is that a quantum particle doesn't have a position, but has a probability of being in a position. A strange concept, that I don't have a clue how to understand or explain. But science does it's best to understand it through theory. Also it's impossible to measure a particle's energy and position simultaneously.

I see science as trying to work out things we don't know (there's a hell of a lot of information to understand), whereas religion gives answers, often with little evidence, just to "comfort" us and make us think we understand things.

Consider extraterrestrial life. We don't know for sure if life exists on another planet, and it's something that is impossible to prove wrong, so we can only have a definite answer when it is proved right. But still we have our own image of "aliens" whether it be a little green creature with anntanae or silver humanoids with long faces and huge eyes. We seem to (naturally) answer our own questions for the sake of understanding something.

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02-06-2008, 08:43 AM
Post: #9
The Myth of Science
I think the real issue is one of expectation...

People expect science to explain what something is rather than simply how it behaves.

Take for example what on the face of it appears a straightforward question; What is light?

All we have are two fairly basic models that allow us to explain and predict the behavior of light under very specific conditions - neither of which actually answer that basic question.

Science, certainly in physics, is simply the development of models that help us visualise how objects/matter behaves and will behave under certain conditions.

The question of 'dark matter' has arisen because none of the models based on what we can actually see/detect work very well. There has to be something else out there that we can't currently detect but which is interacting with the material we can - perhaps the current Dr Who has the answer :shocking:

Stay out of the shadows folks......

Space reserved for interesting fact.
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03-06-2008, 07:11 AM
Post: #10
The Myth of Science
Going back to Flyo's bit on quantum physics though, it does seem that at the sub atomic level things behave in a way that our brains, perhaps conditioned by the way we grow up to think, cannot understand. For instance, that an electron can move from one place to another without crossing the space in between defies rational thought, as does the fact that putting a spin on a particle will cause a similar particle many kilometers away to spin in the opposite direction.

Perhaps there lies the limits of scientific understanding - if it is true that science is trying to understand the ultimate be all and end all of the way nature works, there comes a point where even the greatest scientific minds will have to say 'I just don't get it'.

At an even simpler level, a child might ask how do you make a tree out of dirt and water, I'm not so sure that science really gives an answer to that.

Interesting point of Gniess's that perhaps we look to science to understand what things are instead of it merely providing a model of how stuff works, but maybe science itself is responsible for raising unanswerable questions. For instance it's science that has introduced the concept of 'light' - having done so it presents us with the assumption that there is some 'stuff' called light, so it's natural to start asking what it is. Maybe, like gravity (which we are led to believe 'exists' but which has been shown simply to be a side effect of something else) it ain't really there!

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