Friday, September 26, 2014

Where logic and reason fail

I am a self-proclaimed advocate of science, but I have learnt over the years that mine is a stupid venture. Science is a body of knowledge that is applied by people we call scientists to understand the physical world using experimentation and reasoning to come to conclusions.

It is very important that advocates of science such as myself drive in their own lanes and realise that science cannot solve, know, or understand everything. This is a very humbling fact, one that needs to be accepted as is, on account of the existence of opinions and the growing tendency to let logic and reason take a backseat in a world ruled by counter-knowledge.

Now, I have been told, and have subsequently read many a literature on the internet, telling me that there are some things that science cannot know and can never explain. That statement can seem very flat-worldly, but such an analysis would be unfair to the advocate of the supernatural who feels his opinion matters as much as any.

Fair enough but how can we differentiate between established facts and counter-knowledge? Well, the western world has come up with a few useful tools for the physical world: experimentation and Ockham’s razor sums up most of these tools. When researchers are faced with a natural phenomenon that is not yet understood, they use experimentation to determine the mechanism driving the phenomenon.

Where experimentation fails or is not possible (such as a historical event), it is useful to ‘cut the crap’. This is where Ockham’s razor comes in; it looks at the many explanations presented and cutting the bullshit, settles for the simplest one.

In other words, where there is a perfectly natural explanation for a phenomenon, the supernatural is frowned upon –that is until testable and reliable evidence supports it.

It is important that the most established theories of nature encounter the most rigorous and revealing episodes of scientists trying to prove it wrong, and the most accepted are only so as they withstand the plethora of attempts to disprove them. Such is for the physical world, though, whilst the supernatural has a different set of rules outside the realms of science.

And out there, pretty much anything goes. This reminds me of an old slogan of The Church of Scientology; if it’s a fact for you, it’s a fact. Let us consider a man of God who claims that the Holy Spirit resides within him. This is a 'fact' that cannot be tested, and therefore resides outside science.

If, however, the ambitious man of God claims that he can use the Holy Spirit to heal the injured, cure AIDS and cancer through prayer, he then brings aspects of the supernatural world to our physical reality, and at this point allows scientific testing of these claims. No occurrence of faith healing being proven to work has been reliably recorded.

A more physically viable explanation would be that he who claims to be healed by a faith healer through nothing more than prayer is telling an untruth. Whilst this may break the credibility of the witness, it keeps intact the laws of physics by cutting the crap, in other words, we use Ockham’s razor.

Whilst this fact means faith healing does not work in the physical world, it says nothing of the supernatural, which as I said earlier, anything goes. This place where anything goes is called by Collin Campbell as the cultic milieu; which is the cesspool of all that is unbelievable and where those that forgo reason, logic and choose to ignore all manner of established evidence, reside.

I have been told also, that miracles cannot be explained by science because they operate outside the laws of physics. This is a face-palm-worthy statement at face value, but then I remember how science cannot explain “everything.”

When it comes to so-called miracles and the hocus pocus that plagues the cultic milieu, the phenomena of this supernatural world are only as strong as those who believe in it, the advocates. And this is where science (which encapsulates logic and reason), differs: it works whether you believe in it or not.

So, what do you believe in?   

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