Discussion on Knowledge Outside the Boundary of Science


[Hazen] So I go to a wedding of this friend of mine. He’s kind of an engineer. He designs
furniture for a living. But he watches a lot of science
television. In the United States you got the Discovery
Channel and you know watches PBS, public broadcasting shows on
television. He considers himself a bit of an armchair scientists. He’s always given
me a bad time: “Hazen, you know, you’re a religion guy and I’m a science guy. So over our friendship over the years he’s repeating this little mantra and he’s getting, he’s getting married. So he invites me and a few
friends to his wedding and we go. I remember it was at the reception they were serving champagne and he and
his new bride had had a few glasses. They were wandering around reading their guests and they finally walked up to the table where I was, sitting with some friends and he walks up to the table and says, “Hazen thanks for comin’ to my wedding I’m so glad you’re here. We’ve had some great talks over the years, but I think it all boils down to this: you know, you’re a religion guy, and me I’m a science guy. So I probably shouldn’t have said this at
his wedding. But it just came out, “You know,” I said, “Look, I
said, okay so is it wrong to torture babies
for fun?” Strange question ask at a guys wedding, right? Well he’s thinking about it
because he knows, we’ve had enough conversations where I’ve got a trick embedded in this somewhere. And he’s thinking about the trick. Well
he delayed, and it didn’t take a nano second delay before his new bride is looking, looking at him with great worry! She’s got a hold of his arm and she’s looking up at him. Then at me and at then at him and said, “Well tell the man it’s wrong! Of course it’s wrong. He knows it’s wrong.” He’s still thinking about it and she’s hitting him in the shoulder. It was a disaster, but he, he met with me months later and said, “You
really had me in a pickle there.” Because I was thinking, “Look, if he’s
asking if I say ‘Yes it’s wrong to torture babies for fun’, then I’m admitting that there is something I can
know about the universe that didn’t arrive
from science. He actually got the point I think. It took the bride punching in him in the arm to get
through. And so if I say no it’s not wrong I’m a trouble with my wife, if I say yes I’m admitting something,
some bit of knowledge of the universe that did not
derive from science. What are these lines of demarcation? Where does science stop, and other forms of knowledge pick up?
[Craig] Well now I think as Jeff said, it’s very hard to draw lines of demarcation that are not blurry. In cosmology, for example, as you know, Alex Vilenkin is referred to what he
does and cosmology as metaphysical cosmology. And I thought
what a remarkable label. Metaphysical Cosmology. Because it’s on
the very limits of science. In fact one other area that I wanted
to bring out to piggy-back on what Jeff said is the
other end of the universe: Eschatology. The way the world will end.
Eschatology is traditionally a field theology right? How, what will be the last things. Physical
eschatology is now a domain of cosmology. Cosmogony is the beginning of the
universe, eschatology and they use that word is the study of how the universe will end. So this would
be another example of where questions that were once thought to be metaphysical have now become scientific and are open
to investigation. So the lines are blurry. But to answer your question more
directly: logical and mathematical truths are not scientifically provable. They’re
presupposed by, not provable by science. Ethical truths that you mention, aesthetic truths, the
beautiful like ‘the good’ is not accessible by the
scientific method. Metaphysical truths like the reality of
the external world the reality the past, the presence of other minds. These are metaphysical truths that
cannot be proven or disproven scientifically. And ironically science itself. Science is permeated, I think Jeff would agree,
with unprovable assumptions which are
reasonable to assume but they’re not provable.
For example, in the special theory of relativity the constancy of the one-way velocity of
light is simply an assumption or postulate of the theory. We can measure the constancy
of the round trip to velocity of light, if it goes from A to B and back to A, that’s
always constant. We can measure that. The assumption of the theory is that
it doesn’t go out at one velocity and come back at another, so that the round-trip velocity is
always the same but in fact it’s going one way at different rates, can’t be
proved scientifically! That is simply an
assumption in the theory so if you adopt this view that you could only
believe what could be scientifically proven boom out the window go special
relativity along with lots of other science. [Zweerink ] And I would add to that, I agree with your statements, and I
would say that the ability to
distinguish between science and not science, people have tried to say okay this is
what science is and we’re gonna categorize these kinds of scientists, you know, the
reality of it is, as I understand, how I do science when I go into the lab
and when I’m working on things, is there is a process I use and as I adopt that process in my particular discipline I am generally
assured of getting good results and then I have to go back and test and let other
people do the same thing. I find that general principle of love, you take that and apply that to Scripture.
We have to interpret what the words of the text mean. And there’s a process by which people
have developed what these words means and then they go
test it on other scripture. If I try and break
down ‘What is science?’ it’s very difficult. And it
actually it’s a process by trying to investigate what is true and
so I use that in other areas rather than just you know what I’m doing in the lab. [Hazen] At the foundation of modern science is
a value system. You need to test theories fairly and report results
honestly and clearly not a
scientific idea. I mean people didn’t discover that by looking through a
microscope or doing a dig or something. But it makes a lot of sense.

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