Friday, June 09, 2006

Science and Faith …

On one of my Yahoo groups over the past few days, we've been discussing issues of faith and science, and I think the discussion has been good so I wanted to post it here :) .

It began with the following quote …

"Some people believe in faith, some people believe in science, which do you believe?"

"anitsirhc" wrote: ah But John Locke was wrong. Some people…believe in both…andscience imo, is a faith of sorts.

Doug wrote: There's no contradiction in believing in both. But while people may treat science as a faith, and allow faith to confuse their thinking > > about science; the scientific method is most definitely NOT faith based. Your computer works because the science behind it works, faith plays zero role in either its design or operation. JMO Doug

"fciaw" wrote: There is the faith in science…if you take it on faith that the work done by the scientists to prove the theories were done in good conscience and thoroughly without having to go through the proofs yourself in order to accept the principles being presented to you. DB

"anitsirhc" wrote: -weve been thru this with doug (and im happy to do it again)…very
little science is pure and based on "The Scientific Principle". Most
science is a little bit fuzzy….and hence a derivative of "faith"
imo. Faith in science = confounding variables and other such bits of
"fuzz" that makes any given scientific experiement problems.

I think its a fundamental feature of the universe that there is always going to be fuzziness. Science and the scientific method is about taking phenomena that exists on a spectrum, and sticking it into individual colour boxes. By definition, there will always be the hues between the primary colours that make for the fuzz, and thats not something science will ever correct. Science is about defining the colours, not so much about understanding the fact that there no such thing as red in reality … just thing sthat approach red from either side. Science sees "Red" as an actual definable thing, when to the universe it isn't, really. We will never understand the entire universe through science, because the very nature of the scientific method is directed at defining "Red" and "Blue" whereas the universe only present red and blue as ideals that never actually exist in reality.

Animal taxonomy is another example. "Mammal" "Reptile" etc are all generalities, concepts that don't exist in reality. They are boxes we attempt to stuff life into, with great success in some cases. But life doesn't fit into neat little boxes … there are egg laying mammals, and fish with hair; reptiles that 'nurse' their young and creatures who use pouches as an incubation chamber. And them someone sent a sub down to look at a thermal vent … Science will always be at odds with the universe to a certain degree.

Science tries to fit a single, immense, interconnected reality into a series of infinate boxes. Those boxes help us to understand things about the universe, and they enlighten us about relationships and patterns we are likely to encounter. But reality itself is far too big to fit in any of the boxes, really. No matter what box we look at, there's going to be spillover because the universe isn't built so we can conveniently box it up for our understanding … its more complex than that.

Science is of great value in helping us understand parts of the universe, and through that, reality in general … but in the end, it does so through abstract boxes that don't truly exist in reality, and thats the final irony. It is only through abstracting the real world we see around us, that we can come to some understanding of that reality.


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