The Scientific Method And Philosophy

January 24th, 2013 by Michael Tabor
I did not major in science, although in retrospect, I wish I had. I am 49 years old and I’m at a point in my life in which I’m trying to gain a better understanding of the fundamental, profound and universal questions:  Who are we? Where did we come from ? Why are we here ? What is this thing called life? Does life have any meaning? Is life just an accident? Why do people suffer ? Is this all there is ? Is there life after death or to phrase the question a little more differently, is it possible to survive the death of your physical body ? Do I even matter in the grand scheme of things ?
I have always been an inquisitive person and I guess you can say always  a philosopher (the adage that kids are all philosophers is true; in fact to become a good writer, one must tap into your inner – child) When I was young, naïve, and knew practically nothing about the world and how it worked , religion seemed to be a band – aid for my yearning to understand. The truth of the matter is, although I was a professed, tried and true God – fearing Christian, for the first 17 years of my life, I was never entirely satisfied with the bible’s (especially the old testament) attempt to provide sound explanations for essentially “bad things” and the needless suffering most good people had to endure.
My real breakaway from Christianity came about after I had grown, had become educated and begun reading the entire bible in earnest, from Genesis all the way through and unto the new testament and the gospels. Wow – what a mess of a tome ! The Old testament, though some of psalms and proverbs convey some eternal wisdom, was just on whole simply evil and twisted. Here is what Richard Dawkins has to say about the old testament which perfectly encapsulates it:   “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

These are incredibly exciting times and there are ground – breaking discoveries being made almost on a daily basis by molecular biologists, geneticists, physicists and basically anyone who works under the rubric of science and the medical profession. What makes matters frustrating is that everyone is “super” specialized and it’s no small task for a particle physicist to communicate with an oncologist and vice versa (another blog) but what makes science so great and what this blog is about is the most fantastic way of seeking truth via the rigors of the scientific method. Just imagine, unlike theologians, scientists take their well – established theories and incessantly try to disprove their most brilliant ideas wrong.

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think? There are so many great science books out there for the laypersons who loves science and philosophy. One such book, which is very accessible is Richard Dawkin’s new book, ‘The Magic of Reality’ – no there are no burning bushes and other such superstitious beliefs, this is just beautiful science – truth. Truth is beauty, and beauty is truth. Watch this discussion with Richard Dawkins and Rickey Gervais, just awe – inspiring
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3 Responses to “The Scientific Method And Philosophy”

  1. K. Scot Sparks Says:

    Hi, Mike! If very humbly, I’d recommend a provisional forgetting of this supposedly central science-faith conflict; there are probably bigger (or ‘more basic’) fish to fry.

    One could consider [philosophical] conflicts among modern scientists between 1600-1850, say and/or between high modern and more recent scientists, and/or among contemporary scientists only, where it comes to interpretation and knowledge-theory. Among the controversy here will be questions regarding [1] what science is, [2] what it can bare, and [3] whether or not it necessitates various kinds and degrees of belief.

    Related to this effort, we could helpfully read Gadamer [TRUTH AND METHOD] , Kuhn [HISTORY OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS], Popper et al on ‘falsifiability,’ and more thorough accounts of recent theoretical physics.

    After engaging such materials, the hot-selling pop controversy of ‘necessary science-faith enmity’ (on which the careers of many a ‘new atheist’ seem to thrive) might be exposed for the weak tea it tends to be: conveniently and persistently un-nuanced commentaries in which at least equally thoughtful dissenters are conspicuously absent AND in which the real issues (those germane to human understanding, its relation to variously conscious biases, and the reality/role of stubbornly camouflaged, stubborn will) must diligently be ignored.

    Our individual and collective efforts toward the real/true are surely all troubled, by the effects of biases that are often veiled as they are strong. But a confessing rather than evading of these might ultimately preserve both soul and science.

    Thanks for your patient reading. -k

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    I guess one can say that “The New Atheist Movement” is trending (I think it really took off after 9/11 – reassessing what we believe in i.e religious fundamentalists did this) but I wouldn’t call it “pop”; serious heavyweight scientists and philosophers are speaking out against something they believe is ultimately deleterious and in a nutshell, in my mind, stating the glaringly obvious that the top 3 monotheistic religions are simply not true – prodigiously so.

    btw, great reading suggestions.

  3. K. Scot Sparks Says:

    They are ‘pop,’ to my mind, in the sense that the ‘vast appeal’ of so many of their representations pertain more to ‘rhetorical flourish meeting un-discerning preference’ more than to self-evident demonstration or ‘proof from necessity.’ But many who seem quite unaware of possible and relevant philosophical objections are convinced – not without convenience – that these characters have provided just such evidence. Most of the time, all they have done is propound presuppositions in the cloak of ‘argument’; and they very seldom respectfully argue, if they do so at all, against a healthy or robust representation of possible objections.

    Given the state of education over the last two or three decades, there seems to be little opportunity for healthy governance ‘by the people’; similarly, there seems to be little chance for reality’s sane and reasonably reverential adjudication[sic.], for the same reason.

    Add layers of rhetoric, whether metaphysical or scientistic superficiality, and we are even further away from good goals concerning ‘the meeting of experience and the real.’

    If humbly, I’d again recommend a reasonably self-aware, somewhat reverential study of the real issues. This will seldom happen where the interest is not reality or truth but, rather, abdication where it comes to the potential for relationally sound engagement – with Reality, including ‘ultimate things.’

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