Summary and Conclusions.
And that Inverted Bowl we call The Sky, beneath which crawling, cooped, we live and die;
Lift not your hands to it for help, for it as impotently moves as you or I!
Omar Khayyam (translated by Edward Fitzgerald)
Collecting our thoughts.
We've covered a lot in these essays. So let's see if we can summarize the main points in a short document. This can serve as a review sheet for teachers who must respond to questions in the classroom, and who want to ensure that they do not inadvertently misrepresent what science is and what it is not.
- Logic (and mathematics) alone tell us nothing about the natural world.
- Through our senses we form a mental picture of what we call the "real world". It's just a name, and inquiry into the "reality" of this world or our perceptions is futile philosophizing.
- This "real world" shows regular patterns and behavior, so we can express
these as "things" and "laws", often with mathematical precision.
- The reliable regularity of natural laws allows us to do science. We can't even imagine a universe that had no regularity at all, or one whose behavior unexpectedly changed in unpredictable ways without warning of any kind.
- No finite collection of things can be arranged completely randomly. Complete disorder seems to be impossible in nature.
- Greater order can, and frequently does, arise from lesser order. All that's required is an open system with energy input.
- The laws and principles operating within the universe of our experience tell us absolutely nothing about anything we might imagine to lie outside of or beyond the boundaries of the universe.
- Logic (and mathematics) tell us nothing about anything beyond the natural universe.
- We can easily imagine things that just aren't so. So we insist on specifically confirming evidence from nature for any hypotheses before accepting it as a reliable description of a natural event or phenomena.
- We can easily imagine things that can't possibly be confirmed or denied by any means available to us.
- The existence of the universe, and the nature of things in it, provide no evidence whatsoever for or against anything beyond, before, or transcending the universe.
- We shouldn't speak of "likelihood", "chance" or "probability", based on a sample size of one. Statistical inferences cannot be based on a sample size of one. The universe is just one entity. Its existence tells us nothing about other imagined universes, or anything about whether the universe's existence is remarkable, or simply a fact. It's ours, and we might as well just accept that fact and realize we must live within it.
- We have ample evidence that physical processes are responsible for increasing order and complexity of systems over time. Even where we haven't complete evidence of some parts of this progression, sufficient circumstantial evidence leads us to conclude that nothing outside of natural processes was going on.
- Even if someone could make a case for some instances of "impossible" gaps in the sequence of natural processes over time, that fact alone would not provide any clue to the reason or mechanism responsible. Science deals with pattern and regularity. If there really were unprecedented interruptions of this regularity and disruptions of pattern, those events would be examples of unnatural irregularities, and would not be accessible to scientific investigation.
- When confronted with something that does not fit our present scientific understanding, we should honestly say "We don't know". We should not offer speculations as if they were established truths.
- Speculation about things that can't possibly be confirmed or verified is idle fantasizing; it isn't science. Belief in such things is religion, not science.
- Science deals only with the natural world, and the regularities that we see from sensory data and from experimental investigation. Science says nothing about any hypothetical supernatural world.
- Science does not claim absolute truths, only "proximate" or "good enough for the purpose" laws and theories.
- Scientific laws and theories are always subject to improvement as better data and better measuring techniques are developed.
- Science builds a structure of laws and theories that have mathematical and logical coherence. Logic is only the "cement" that holds everything together, not a way to find "truth". The structure of science is not built from logic, but is built so that its logical consequences may be tested against the unforgiving standard of experiment.
- There's no scientific evidence that the processes of evolution are anything but blind and purposeless.
- Scientists should avoid words such as "truth", and "belief", for they are inappropriate and unnecessary for doing or talking about science.
- Though science claims no absolute truths, it has discovered more solid, reliable and useful understanding of nature than any other system of inquiry.
- Scientific laws and theories work even for those who do not believe in them. Some may deny them, but that makes no difference; they still continue to work.
Donald E. Simanek, February, 2006.
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Introduction and Contents. >>>>
Top of page.
Intelligent Design Creationism: Fraudulent Science.
Intelligent Design: The Glass is Empty.
Order From Disorder.
Random Thoughts on Randomness.
Is The Real World Really Real?
Uses and Misuses of Logic.
The Scientific Method.
Proofs of Unknowables. The Proof is Pudding.
Theory or Process?
Is Intelligent Design an Interesting Philosophical Idea?
Why not Angels?
What's Bugging the Creationists.
Abuses of science.
Donald Simanek's home page.