Creationism and other doctrines. Was Mindforth

Alex McDonald alex_mcd at btopenworld.com
Thu Dec 19 08:31:17 EST 2002


bruce.rennie at shell.com.au (Bruce Rennie) wrote in message news:<8d821729.0212181906.84bfe68 at posting.google.com>...
> "Alex McDonald" <alex_mcd at btopenworld.com> wrote in message news:<atqt4c$i9l$1 at knossos.btinternet.com>...
> > 
> > The laws of physics appear to be the same whereever we look in the
> 
> An act of faith is expressed in this statement, as we are unable to go
> there and make tests. We are not able to acertain that other effects
> are taking place that hide what is going on. Any assumptions are
> matters of faith.

You confuse testing locally and applying globally. We do not need to
"go there" to demonstrate:

. ice on Mars
. oxygen, carbon, iron etc in the bodies of stars

In general, theories that are verifiable locally appear to apply
globally. This does not require faith. It is the way things appear.
What assumptions are being made?

> > But for black holes, this is not true. We know, for instance, the mass, the
> > spin and the entropy inside a black hole -- without looking inside. And some
> > testable theories (presently untestable give the limitations of technology,
> > but as they are testable they are scientific) claim that physical law is the
> > same inside a black hole as outside, right up to the point of the
> > singularity where quantum gravity takes over.
> 
> An interesting statement, testable and untestable. Again an assumption
> is being made as to the testability of something. If we can't test it,
> it is not testable. 

If the last sentence here paraphrases what you think I said, then I
disagree. I didn't say that.

> If we create a test but can't perform the test,
> does this make it science or faith.

Scientific speculation. Science, in fact, because that's it's nature.

I propose statement "A". "A" requires to pass at least the following
test: is it falsifiable? If it is not falsifiable, then statement "A"
is not scientific. However, it may be falsifiable at some point in the
future. Right now, we may wish to call it scientific speculation, but
it is not an absolute article of faith. We do not believe it to be
absolutely true. (I believe this may not be true of mathematics, where
axioms "define" the "truth", but I'm sure someone will correct me if
I'm wrong.)

However, statement "A" may be very helpful in expanding our
understanding, and we may use it (have a degree of faith in it, if you
like) if it appears to correctly predict what has previously been
unexplained.

The following examples might help.

1. "Newton's theory of gravitation is correct". A scientific
statement; falsifiable (and false).
2. "Einstein's theory of gravitation is correct." A scientific
statement; potentially falsifiable (and not yet falsified, although
there are situations where it's recognised it doesn't apply).

And that is about as good as it gets. Scientific theories come and go,
but that's in the nature of science. We understand that theory X is
the best we've got; then someone shows that it doesn't work under
circumstance Y. And so we move on.

We still use Netwon's description of gravitation when we sling
satellites around distant planets. It's not "absolutely true", but
it's true enough in this case.

But Newton's theories can't explain the bending of light accurately --
Einstein's do. And so far, relativity is as good as it gets. It's not
"absolutely true" either, as it doesn't appear to apply down inside
black holes, or at the beginning of time.

But I can't follow you to the next step. 

3. "Therefore, because it is inexplicable, there is a God". Not a
scientific statement; not falsifiable.

That is truly an act of faith.

---
Regards
Alex McDonald



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