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26.006 Faith is part of the scientific process

 

Lyall Watson
Lifetide, 1979
Page 178 Design in nature.

One ends up always falling back on the idea of some sort of design in nature, which implies the existence of a Designer. That may be the final and perfectly reasonable solution, but it is a little embarrassing for a scientist because it is a theory incapable of refutation. As Karl Popper puts it, ‘Falsification, or refutability, is a criterion of the scientific status of a theory’. You have to be able to test a theory. You have to be able to prove that it is right or wrong. An explanation which explains everything, explains nothing. An explain-all is not more credible than a cure-all. Both are bad science and lousy logic.

 

Lyall Watson
Lifetide, 1979
Page 316 Faith is part of the scientific process.

It gave rise to the dialectic, the politics of science.

Peter Laurie points out that scientific truth today, ‘which is supposed to be completely independent of time, place or person, is actually based entirely on political or social evidence’ and not on observation or fact.

For example, I believe in the electron as a basic building block of matter. But on what evidence do I base this belief? I haven’t got, and even if I did have wouldn’t know how to work, the apparatus necessary to demonstrate its existence. Instead I take the word of the Wykeham Professor of Physics in the University of Oxford, and I ignore the opinion of the Professor of Cosmic Knowledge in the University of Light who insists that electrons are actually tiny transformations of the souls of the departed. Experiments about electrons boil down in the end to experiments about professors.

And why do I choose to believe one rather than the other? Simply because the Oxford opinion is one verified by an elaborate system of rival researchers who duplicate, largely with the hope of discrediting, each other’s work. A system of commenting and criticising, weighing, assessing and refereeing in which experts sit in judgement on the facts, ultimately reaching a consensus, selecting what is true and rejecting the remaining as false. But, in the final analysis, this is a political process not a scientific one.

Somewhere between the question and the answer there is room for opinion. The answers are only approximate and Knowledge, it seems, is very largely a matter of belief. The rigid experimental protocols, the strict scientific procedures which were thought to hold individuality in abeyance, have probably always been contaminated. Total objectivity may be nothing but a myth.

If this is so – and few of those involved in any way with quantum physics now deny that the observer, simply by being there, influences the outcome of the experiment – then we face a dilemma.

If faith is part of the scientific process, lying clearly in the path between question and answer, then might it not also intrude between Nature and the question? Is it possible that Man, by his interrogation, changes Nature itself?

I believe he can, and does.

 

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