What is Science?
What is science?
It has been said that neither I nor any IDist understands science. With that in mind, the following is my understanding of science. For some reason Lizzie Liddle wouldn't allow this to be posted, oh well-
The 2004 Encyclopedia Britannica says science is “any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws.”
“A healthy science is a science that seeks the truth.” Paul Nelson, Ph. D., philosophy of biology.
Linus Pauling, winner of 2 Nobel prizes wrote, “Science is the search for the truth.”
“But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding.” Albert Einstein
The truth need not be an absolute truth. Truth in the sense that Drs. Pauling, Einstein & Nelson are speaking is the reality in which we find ourselves. We exist. Science is to help us understand that existence and how it came to be.
As I like to say- science is our search for the truth, i.e. the reality, to our existence and the existence of whatever is being investigated, via our never-ending quest for knowledge.
Science Asks Three Basic Questions:
The astronaut picking up rocks on the moon, the nuclear physicist bombarding atoms, the marine biologist describing a newly discovered species, the paleontologist digging in promising strata, are all seeking to find out, “What’s there?”
How does it work?
A geologist comparing the effects of time on moon rocks to the effects of time on earth rocks, the nuclear physicist observing the behavior of particles, the marine biologist observing whales swimming, and the paleontologist studying the locomotion of an extinct dinosaur, “How does it work?”
How did it come to be this way?
Each of these scientists tries to reconstruct the histories of their objects of study. Whether these objects are rocks, elementary particles, marine organisms, or fossils, scientists are asking, “How did it come to be this way?”
So how do we do that? We use our senses. We make observations. We try to figure things out, i.e. we try to understand what we observe and/ or sense. This “thing” we are trying to understand could be an object, event, structure or phenomena. And we use our knowledge of cause and effect relationships to help guide us.
We formulate an idea as to how it works and we devise a way to test that idea. If successful we have others check our work. If they like it, it gets published. However not getting published is not a falsification nor refutation of the idea or the data.
How do we test an idea? We break it down into something that is measure-able. In industry this is done via Six Sigma’s DMAIC- Define (the customer’s requirements), (Figure out how to) Measure (them); Analyze (the requirements and measuring systems); Improve (the process to reach the goal); Control (the process).
In science we define what it is we are observing.-> rocks, life, populations or individual organisms, planets, stars, motion, falling, abruptly stopping, etc.
Can this observation be measured? If not how can we qualify our inference or conclusion? (This is where we figure out a way to test our inference.)
Analyze all work to date for errors and/ or improvements.
Initiate or improve a process to reach the desired goal. In science the desired goal would be to understand what it is we are observing, i.e. what we had previously defined.
Then, you control that process. Documentation at each step is key throughout the process and will facilitate the controlling of said process.
Once you have completed the above and feel you have an understanding, you have others who are qualified check your work. That is why documentation is key.
More from the NCSE linked to U Berkley website on Evolution:
“Science is a particular way of understanding the natural world. It extends the intrinsic curiosity with which we are born. It allows us to connect the past with the present,… (references a picture)”
“Science is based on the premise that our senses, and extensions of those senses through the use of instruments, can give us accurate information about the Universe. Science follows very specific "rules" and its results are always subject to testing and, if necessary, revision. Even with such constraints science does not exclude, and often benefits from, creativity and imagination (with a good bit of logic thrown in).”
On science & the supernatural:
”It is often said that science must avoid any conclusions which smack of the supernatural. But this seems to me to be both bad logic and bad science. Science is not a game in which arbitrary rules are used to decide what explanations are to be permitted. Rather, it is an effort to make true statements about physical reality. It was only about sixty years ago that the expansion of the universe was first observed. This fact immediately suggested a singular event-that at some time in the distant past the universe began expanding from an extremely small size.
To many people this inference was loaded with overtones of a supernatural event-the creation, the beginning of the universe. The prominent physicist A.S. Eddington probably spoke for many physicists in voicing his disgust with such a notion:
“Philosophically, the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of Nature is repugnant to me, as I think it must be to most; and even those who would welcome a proof of the intervention of a Creator will probably consider that a single winding-up at some remote epoch is not really the kind of relation between God and his world that brings satisfaction to the mind”.”-- (Dr. Behe)
The point being is that science cares only about reality and there is only one reality behind our existence.
Agreements? Objections? Corrections? Bloviations?