Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Scientific method/rationalism = faith?

  1. Jul 18, 2007 #1
    this isn't crack pottery or really that philosophical so that's why i posted it here.

    obviously science itself isn't faith based, we expect repeatable results and testable hypotheses from our scientists.

    but there are open problems and all the people that see all the good science has done expect them to eventually be solved ( all or some is irrelevant right now ). this expectation is a faith in the scientific method or science's ability to solve problems. deep down it is a belief that the universe plays by rational rules.

    personally i have faith :approve:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2007 #2

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Is this day one of Philosophy 101?

    Oh, I apologize right away for that.
     
  4. Jul 18, 2007 #3

    Hurkyl

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Empiricism and rationalism are very different things.
     
  5. Jul 18, 2007 #4

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It wasn't until my senior year in college that I first considered that the universe might not be explainable by science. It was implicit in my thinking that the universe must make sense according to our reasoning - that a GUT was inevitable. It was only when a prof asked why it must be so, that my universe collapsed. :bugeye:

    ...and then the stars slowly began to wink out....
     
  6. Jul 18, 2007 #5
    What's GUT? General Unifying Theory? Something like TOE?
     
  7. Jul 18, 2007 #6
    I don't really have that faith you speak of. I think it was Kuhn who first said that the scientific method is just a model built around an increasing amount of data. A lot of people think of science as getting closer and closer to the truth. It's slightly different from that. Personally, I'm a pragmatist, and the only reason sceince has any value is because of what it produces. Namely technology/technical knowledge. As for figuring out what the universe really is about - I don't think we really have a method for that yet.
     
  8. Jul 18, 2007 #7

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, sorry; "GUT" goes back to Einstein's efforts to produce a Grand Unified Theory - effectively the same thing as a TOE.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2007
  9. Jul 18, 2007 #8

    hypnagogue

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Any halfway decent biologist will tell you that a gut is not the same thing as a toe.
     
  10. Jul 18, 2007 #9
    What is it then? Do I need to call Moonbear? (she is the biology one, right? - it's been a while for me)
     
  11. Jul 18, 2007 #10

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Sure, but a completely decent one would never mention it in public.
     
  12. Jul 19, 2007 #11
    You forgot the word yet. Its not explainable by science...............yet. Also, why does it have to make sense by our reasoning? There are lots of every day things in science that smacks our common sense reasoning in the face.

    Its much easier to explain away things to religion than it is to grind it out and find the true answer through hard work and critical thinking.
     
  13. Jul 19, 2007 #12
    Hey, I was close! :approve::biggrin:
     
  14. Jul 19, 2007 #13

    hypnagogue

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You miss the point. Your attitude is the same attitude Ivan had *before* his senior year in college. The contrary idea is that perhaps it is not explicable in scientific terms, even in principle. No "yet".
     
  15. Jul 19, 2007 #14

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I didn't forget the word "yet". The idea was that it may not ever be explainable due to either the fundamental limits of our mental capacity, or for other reasons that, perhaps, in themselves are beyond our current and potential scope of knowledge and/or understanding.

    Edit: Yes, as indicated by Hyp.
     
  16. Jul 19, 2007 #15
    But you are basing this on nothing but speculation. I mean, it took us 3500 years to get to where science is today. And most of it really took off in the last 200 years. In the big picture, this is not even a grain of sand in a sandbox. You cant expect the answers to GUT overnight. It might happen a thousand years from now, but eventually it will happen - provided we dont kill ourselves first.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2007
  17. Jul 19, 2007 #16

    hypnagogue

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I am explaining the concept, not arguing for it.
     
  18. Jul 19, 2007 #17
    Also, you have to factor in that soon computers are going to be able to 'think'. Once that happens, it opens up a world of possibilities. A computer does not have to sleep, it can grind out a solution non stop for years if you make it. I think I saw a program, maybe Kaku, where he said soon (next 100 years) computers will be able to process things as fast as the human brain.

    Plus, you never know. We might get help from some little green men out there in space. Personally, I feel 99.9% confident that we are not the only planet with life on it. The universe is far too big and far too old for us to be that special.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2007
  19. Jul 19, 2007 #18
    It's fair to assume, i think, that cyrus has faith.
     
  20. Jul 19, 2007 #19

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It comes down to this: Until we know the fundamental nature of the universe, that is, until we have a set of equations that describe everything within a single consistent model, we don't know that the universe can be reduced to such a set of equations. Of course we all assume that it can be [or at least some theoretical physicists must], but we have no way to know if this is true until done.
     
  21. Jul 19, 2007 #20

    wolram

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    My fear is that money will run out before all the theories we have are tested,
    space science is expensive and needs stable economies to fund it.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Scientific method/rationalism = faith?
  1. The Scientific Method (Replies: 55)

  2. Scientific Method? (Replies: 17)

  3. Scientific Method? (Replies: 24)

  4. The Scientific Method (Replies: 19)

Loading...