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Basics

  1. Jan 20, 2004 #1
    This is in a response to a closed thread, to which I could not contribute. The contribution is here now though.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=12080

    I'm supposed to keep religion to a minimum, but the basic argument in this thread was god may not be god as there may be a slight chance that he is actually a brain in a jar or whatever infinite unprovable other scenarios you can think of.

    The reasonning of the atheist implies that he believes that nothing is for certain. On it's own this reasonning is extremely illogical as if you were to pick up a ball and drop it 20 times you would expect that on the 21st drop that there is an element of certainty that the ball would drop. This is where scientific method comes in.

    Indeed there are infinite scenarios that could be being played out that there is no evidence to prove, but these can all be considerred lunacy as there is no evidence to prove them.

    Is nothing for certain?

    Yes, nothing is for certain. As nothing is 100% uncertain. It is better (logical) to see things in terms of probability instead of certainty and non-certainty, due to the fact that scientific method can be applied.

    For example

    There is a near certain (though not 100% certain) chance that when i let go of a ball it will be attracted to the ground by the force of gravity.

    When I take a card randomly out of a pack of cards there is a 1 in 54 chance of me taking out the ace of spades. There is a near impossible chance of me taking out an off duty slovakian security guard and a near certain chance of me taking out a card. This of course assuming I have just searched through the cards and made sure all the cards are there etc.

    Though somone is probably going to disagree with my idea of probabilities as a link between scientific method and the statement that 'nothing is for certain'.

    There is also the following logical problem.


    'Nothing is for certain'

    If the above statement is not for certain, then there is a possiblity that something or everything is for certain and so the statement 'nothing is for certain' cannot apply.

    'Nothing is for certain, except this statement.'


    Which people tend to disagree with, though I have never had a detailed explanation as to why.

    I could go on to blabber about how scientific method applies to the conscious self and why aristotle's early version of scientific method was flawed, though that is off topic and even more basic, so it would be lame to do so.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2004 #2
    I don't think that's quite right. 'Nothing is for certain' is not true. However ironically 'nothing can be completely proved' is true for certain.
     
  4. Jan 27, 2004 #3
    "Nothing can be completely proved."

    This definition can be assumed to be correct, whereas the statement.

    "Nothing is for certian, even this statement"

    Is unreasonable as it is circular


    "Nothing can be completely proved." uses the same ideas as scientific method and so allows for a more logical theory concerning what we ought to assume to be correct and what we ought to assume to be incorrect.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Jan 27, 2004 #4
    Are you suggesting scientific knowledge is better than certain knowledge because it is based on scientific assumptions, and thus creates a more logical theory of everything than certain knowledge? It sounds like it. Perhaps I've misread it.
     
  6. Jan 29, 2004 #5
    I am suggestnig that if nothing is for certain, the most reasonable things to believe are those proved by scientific method. By Scientific method I mean abstract scientific method.

    Experiment - Perception
    Theory - Patterns noticed from perceptions and an understanding of those patterns.

    So sentience can be proved by scientific method due to the fact that sentience is the ability to perceive and I am currently perceiving. Also sentience can be described as the ability to notice patterns and understand?
     
  7. Jan 29, 2004 #6
    But there is such a thing as certain knowledge, so that argument doesn't work.

    Strange as it may seem sentience cannot be proved by the scientific method. This is known as the 'other minds' problem. There is no scientific proof that anything is sentient.

    This is true ex hypothesis in science, since the scientific orthodoxy is that being conscious cannot affect an entity's behaviour in any way at all. In other words there is no observable behaviour that inplies the existence of consciousness, we can only take someone's word for it.

    It's an odd situation.
     
  8. Jan 30, 2004 #7
    I discussed this in my first post on this forum. I have come to the conclusion that we cannot understand sentience as it is the process of pereiving and not a perception.

    Of course you are correct, scientific method cannot prove the existence of sentience.

    Have to go now though..
     
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