Inerrant Rampancy

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Defending Science

About a month or so ago I was having a (drunken) conversation with a bunch of people about atheism, belief, and science. It was a good conversation, but at one point I was discussing the limitations of science and I realize now that I didn’t do a very good job defending science. Now, it’s quite possible that science needs no defense, certainly not in general, but we were talking specifically about science’s ability to gain knowledge of everything. I said it had that ability, my fellow conversationalist claimed that it did not. I had no good response to his arguments and that was my fault for not having done any reading on that aspect of science. Quite honestly I never felt that it was in question, though that too is bad reasoning since a tenet of my philosophy is to question everything, even science. So, below I have organized my thoughts, hopefully in a way that will be meaningful and helpful to all 3 of the people who will read this. Hi Max, Julianna, and random person who varies from time to time.

Science is the study of causes and effects. If there is a cause, we can study that cause and find out information about its effects. If there are effects we can study those and find out their cause. If there are both we can study both and learn more about why the cause produces the effects or perhaps learn that the two are a part of a larger cause and are both effects themselves. This is science at all levels; concerned with causes and effects, one or both of which must be detectable. The aim of science is to eventually detect and understand both parts; the cause and the effects. So what of things that science is not privy to? Those things cannot possibly exist. If there are things that produce a detectable effect on humans or the environment or on any aspect of the universe which we can observe in some way, then science can study that and determine a cause. If there is a cause which we can observe then we can observe its effects. Science, by definition, is concerned with phenomena that have some effect on the universe. If it has an effect, then science can study it. If it does not have an effect, then what is it? It is nothing. It does not exist. To name a thing which imparts some kind of force or other effect on the universe is to say, by definition, that it is able to be studied by science. To name a thing which imparts no force and has no effect, i.e. to say that something is not able to be studied by science, is to name nothing, or to name something which does not exist.

Ok. That about covers it. Refutations or other arguments are welcome.


December 18, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. 4 People who read this. I’m now an Ogad-o-phile.

    Comment by Burke | December 21, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to get at here. Umbrella-ing cause and effects as a case for science? I mean there isn’t a cause and effect, per se, for a lot of mathematics. It just is, based on the theories and such of yore. Take this easy example. 1+2=2+1. Or a circle. Like what’s the cause? I wanted to add two numbers? and by switching them around, yields the same goddamn answer. Effect. Hardly. or a circle. The collection of points equidistant from a point. I’m not seeing a cause. or an effect, other than some shitty attempts by 2nd graders to draw shapes.

    Breaking away from the math, what else are you saying about all realms of science? Like antimatter “exists” and the effects can be studied, but causing the stuff to be “made” is damn near impossible at this point. Studied, sure. Understood, no way.

    All realms of crap include “science”, Here’s Behavioural Science:

    Cause: you dropped your soda on my pants.
    Effect: Me punching you in the face.

    I mean, existence is not a precursor for your cause and effect science. Words have an effect on people, so this means words are science? Why not call your Mom science, your problems science, your loans science, and everything else that affects you? Cuz that would be stupid.

    Science is knowledge, and knowledge is power. I like that more.

    Comment by Dirk Diggler | January 16, 2009 | Reply

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