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Writer's Block: Proven by Science
Do you believe everything has a scientific explanation?


However, whether these will ever be known to us descendants of plains apes is problematical.

I do not think anything is unknowable, but much remains unknown and may be outside the understanding of our odd little brains.

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I don't consider science co-extensive with reason. Reason can understand everything in principle, but can't necessarily provide a scientific explanation for it. Attempting to explain everything scientifically leads to an infinite regress. Molecules may be explained by atoms, atoms by baryons, and baryons by quarks, but eventually something just is, and can't be explained in terms of something more basic. Let's say it's quarks. We can understand what their characteristics are, but we can't "explain" them in terms of constituent causes.

Science is a method. It uses reason, but supplements it with observation and, most importantly, experiment.

Reason alone can tell us very little without those two other important elements and both are limited by the way our minds have evolved.

There are things we can explain from constituent causes, particularly in biology, and I am willing to risk a small virtual bet that both life and cognition will be explained by the scientific method within the next fifty years (so long as we don't all kill ourselves and the planet first, which seems likely.) I am not arguing that humans can explain everything by the scientific method, but that everything is explicable.

The fact is that 400 years ago - an eyeblink of time - we didn't know anything at all about the structure of the universe - atoms were a philosophical concept which bears little relation to the reality. What will be know in 400 more years of enquiry (if we should get it)? You don't know and neither do I! But I reckon that someone can find out, using the scientific method.

When talking about reason, I mean reason with all the tools available to it (which include science), not reason in a vacuum.

It shouldn't be necessary to make this distinction, but given the history of philosophy, it is. I recently glanced at some Spinoza, and his list of axioms which are supposedly undisputable made me dizzy.

Experience suggests that axioms do not exist outside mathematics.

If you know all of something's characteristics, why would you need to be able to break it down into smaller parts in order for this to count as an explanation?

But yes, I agree that if there aren't the means to understand something through evidential enquiry then it isn't science.

Science doesn't lead to an infinite regression, in fact it should do the opposite. Right from its inception scientists have struggled to formulate the smallest number of fundamental 'laws' that can explain everything.

We call 'laws' 'theories' these days, simply to avoid embarrasment given their past history. Most physicists believe that the universe is simpler that current theories suggest, but that we haven't yet found the key that will unlock it all.

Some Natural Philosphers have suggested that science always increases in complexity, but this is not always the case. In the 1960 and 70's the number of particles believed to exists was growing exponentially, but virtually all of them have been consigned to the rubbish bin,

My point was that those fundamental laws aren't explained; they just are. This doesn't mean we know which laws are fundamental. For example, the law of universal gravitation was once thought to be fundamental, then Einstein showed it could be explained as a consequence of the curvature of space. But at least in principle, there's some endpoint beyond which explanation doesn't go.

Nothing 'just is'. That is to deny causality. There is a (scientifically discoverable) reason for everything. We just haven't found it yet.

Yes, I guess that it a 'belief' but it is one based on the experience of science in the past four hundred years. I see no evidence to suggest that the unknowable exists or that we have got to the end of the road in physics.

I don't think axioms exist outside mathematics, do they? Or has someone forgotten to tell me?

If we postulate (as many do) that there are an infinite number of universes and that the randomly have values for a range of constants that define them then:

Only the universes that allow life would have beings siting around wondering about the unlikeliness of their own existence.

No special circumstances describe our own existence.

There can be an infinite number of universes with life within a much (infinitely bigger) set of total universes. This is easy to prove mathematically, but is difficult to explain to non-mathematicians. Look up Aleph-zero (the integer infinity) and work from there.

Mist things (like viruses) exist because they can. That's all it takes.

you said it better than I could, to a greater degree than I could.

so there is only one thing left for me to do: *standing ovation to you*

Only to the mind of God, sis?

Pardon? Dog hasn't got a mind. I should know.

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