Science and the Unknown

Because scientists have had so much success understanding our material world, they at times are tempted to “explain” our spiritual side.  When analyzing the important issues of life such as who we are, what values we should hold, and the meaning of life, the answers proposed by scientists have no more proof that those of the religious community.  Scientists like to point to experiments which validate their point of view on these issues but other experiments accomplished tomorrow or next year might negate the conclusions offered today.  Do we change what we believe is true about our value system every time science comes up with a different experimental result?  How do we know that what science tells us today is valid if tomorrow it might change?  Do we really want to base what we think is true or our values on “facts” that might change tomorrow and of which we are uncertain?

Another limitation of science is that it must start with the known.  Unless science has some information on a phenomenon, it cannot investigate that phenomenon.  However, just because science is not aware of a particular phenomenon, does that mean it does not exist?  Of course not!  The history of science teaches us that in the past science was not aware of certain phenomenon that now we believe to be real.  Did atoms, meteorites, quasars, atomic fusion, and DNA exist before the scientists “discovered” them?  Of course they did!  Just because science has no proof for the human soul does not mean we do not have a soul.  Science certainly cannot prove we do not have a soul.  Science cannot prove God does not exist.  A fundamental rule of logic is that absence of proof does not necessarily mean the premise is false. [1]

Science, of all our institutions, should understand there is so much in our world that remains a mystery but because something is a mystery does not mean it is a delusion.  The arts seem to be ahead of science in this aspect.  In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Hamlet states:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” [2]  William Blake says:  “For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern” [3] and “. . .he only takes portions of existence and fancies that the whole”. [4]  The history of science itself teaches us that scientific knowledge is not all there is to human existence.

The principles of science have been of an enormous benefit to humankind.  However, Gopi Krishna notes that science has:

. . .no satisfactory explanation to offer for my individual existence or for the infinitely complex creation around me.  Confronted by a mystery, which grows deeper with the advance of knowledge, it [is] not yet in a position to be a source of illumination on issues admittedly beyond its present sphere of inquiry. [5]

It should be obvious that science is not a reliable guide for what our values should be, for the ultimate meaning of life.  David Parks, emeritus professor of physics at Williams College states:  “. . .if you want truth you have to go to a theologian, not a scientist. . .” [6]  Science has performed in an extraordinary manner in dealing with issues within our space and time but it says little about the issues that lie beyond.

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[1]   Robert J. Gula, Nonsense (Mount Jackson, VA:  Axios Press, 2002), p. 43.

[2]   William Shakespeare, Edited by Cyrus Hoy, Hamlet (New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 1992), p. 25.

[3]   Alexander Gilchrist, The Life of William Blake (Mineola, NY:  Dover Publications, Inc., 1998), p. 85.

[4]   Ibid., p. 86.

[5]   Gopi Krishna, Living with Kundalini (Boston:  Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1993), p. 80.

[6]   Dick Teresi, Lost Discoveries (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2002), p. 395.

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The Limits of Science

Science is one human institution which has impressive credentials as a guide for teaching us what is true.  As we learned in earlier blogs, science has transformed human existence by providing us with answers of how our material world functions which has enabled us to manipulate nature for our benefit.  Carl Sagan in his book The Demon-Haunted World illustrates how science can push back the boundaries of ignorance and help us make better decision.  Ignorance is the cause of much human suffering and Sagan gives us the example of the witch trials in the 1600s.  Witches were regularly killed because any illness, storm, or event out of the ordinary was construed to be caused by witches.  The attitude at that time was witches must exist; how else could these extraordinary events occur? [1]  The reality of that age was whatever they did not understand they called demonic.

In an earlier age and different culture, Hippocrates noted that whatever people did not understand they called divine. [2]  The problem is events that are not understood are not necessarily divine or demonic; they just might be beyond our current understanding.  But humans have a need to explain the unknown and science, while not perfect, helps us to know what is true and what is imaginary in our world.

If science can help us better understand our world, why should we not trust it to tell us what is true in all areas of our lives?  One of the limitations of science is that it is a process of discovering how our physical world functions; it is not a set of facts.  Anyone who has studied science is taught this basic tenant of science.  This assertion is valid because the definition of inductive logic includes “certainty is attainable only if all possible instances have been examined”.  Scientists have not examined all possible instances in the past or future so they cannot be confident our current scientific facts will be validated in the future.

If scientists believe science is an accumulation of facts, they close their mind to information that might challenge those facts.  The history of science teaches us the wisdom of this tenant of science because scientists once believed in all manner of ideas that we consider foolish today and undoubtedly future generations will look at some of our current scientific “facts” as humorous.  Scientists once believed that space was filled with an ether.  Now we believe space to be a vacuum.  Scientists once believed that catastrophes had no part in shaping our earth (uniformitarianism).  Now scientists believe that meteorite impacts have caused the extinction of various species of animals at various points in time.  In the 1700s, scientist scoffed at the rural folks who told them that rocks fell from the sky and denied what we now know as meteorites existed.  Now scientists go to great lengths to find meteorites and study them.  If you read any science periodical, you will constantly find research that challenges what we know and understand.

Science, for the foreseeable future, will be constantly revising its beliefs as it discovers new evidence.  This is the way science works.

_________________________

[1]   Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World (New York:  Random House, 1996), p. 26.

[2]   Ibid., p. 8.

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Assistance in Knowing Truth

The human condition tells us we are finite.  The human condition tells us if we want to overcome our limitations, we must work with other people.  Therefore, we humans have devised a variety of institutions, such as government, education, business, science, and religion to name a few, to organize ourselves in order to improve our existence.  To which of these institutions should we turn for guidance on what is true?  Government is primarily concerned with holding power which limits its perspective to mainly the here and now, not our long-term existence.  The educational system is designed to pass on a culture’s traditions to the young.  While it has an influence in deciding what is true, it follows the directions of a society more than directs it.  Business is mainly concerned with money and our material existence; like education, it follows the directions of society in terms of determining what is true rather than directs it.

Science and religion are two institutions which do have something to say about what is true and false in our lives so in the next few blogs we will evaluate their ability to guide us.

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Everyone Has Faith

Because of the limits of the human condition everyone has faith in something or someone; everyone takes certain things on faith.  To believe in anything that occurs or has occurred away from our time and location requires faith.  To believe in the scientific method requires faith.  Poincaré notes that the inductive method “applied to the physical sciences is always uncertain, because it rests on the belief in a general order of the universe, an order outside us”. [1]  To be a materialist requires faith.  How can one prove that this material world is all that exists?  Can one prove our soul does not exist?  That evolution produced the world as we know it requires faith because we have not witnessed the evolution of one species into another; we have not seen all the fossil evidence; we cannot go back in time to see how this world came to be.  We must have faith that the processes we see today have always existed and have created life as we know it.  To be an atheist requires faith.  Atheists cannot prove there is no God.  They have not experienced all there is to experience and they do not know all there is to know.  Atheist must have faith that their inability to find sufficient evidence for God means he does not exist.  James F. Sennett maintains every belief system has its problems.  He observes the various belief systems of the world have rational parity which means for every problem one raises about a particular belief, there is an equal and opposite problem for the other beliefs. [2]  To maintain that only religious people have faith is to display one’s ignorance of the human condition.

The Dialectic

So if the human condition limits our ability to know what is true, how do we determine what to believe?  Karl Popper maintains that we have no criterion for truth, that we can only recognize error.  Our knowledge is finite but our ignorance is infinite. [3]  The only way we can discover error is through criticism of the theories of ourselves and others. [4]  Philosophy has long recognized this fact and uses the process called the dialectic to assist in our quest to understand what is true.  A. E. Taylor defines the dialectic as “repeated and thorough criticism of our assumptions”. [5]  Kant states the reason why the dialectic is such an important tool:  “. . .the dogmatic use of reason without criticism leads to groundless assertions, against which others equally specious can always be set, thus ending unavoidably in skepticism”. [6]  If we want to know truth, we must constantly expose all our assumptions and thought processes to criticism because we are fallible and prone to all manner of errors.  That includes our Christian beliefs and that is what we are attempting to do in this blog.

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[1]   Henri Poincaré, The Foundations of Science (Lancaster, PA:  The Science Press, 1946), pp. 39-40.

[2]   James F. Sennett, The Reluctant Disciple:  A Postmodern Apologetic (an unpublished book), chapter 3, pp. 1-2.

[3]   Popper, p. 36-38.

[4]   Popper, p. 34.

[5]   David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row, 1963), p. 77.

[6]   Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, ed. Mortimer J. Adler (Chicago:  Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1990), p. 20.

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Objective Truth Exists

The human condition tells us our own experiences, the experiences of others, logic, and our heart cannot always tell us what is true.  The human condition tells us our culture has a major impact on what we believe and how we think.  Given that our existence has been structured in this fashion, how do we know what to believe?  Does this mean that knowing truth is impossible?  Do we cease to believe that truth exists?  Many in today’s world take this approach.  Postmodern theory say there is no objective truth.  What we call truth is just a special kind of story for a particular culture.  Different cultures view the world very differently so none of them can claim to have knowledge of the truth.  The attractiveness of postmodernism is that it contains an element of truth.  Knowing what is true is difficult as we have seen in the past few blogs.  But there are contrary facts that cause us to believe objective truth does exist.

We can know objective truth exists for three reasons.  First, our physical world provides us with ample evidence.  E. H. Carr observes that just because a mountain appears to be shaped differently from different angles does not mean the mountain has no shape or infinite shapes. [1]  It can be determined from the various viewing angles the particular shape the mountain has.  Also, if anyone thinks the law of gravity is not an objective reality and jumps off the top of a tall building, do we expect that they will not experience bodily harm or death?  There is no debating with the law of gravity.  We can mitigate its effects as when we use a parachute when we jump from an airplane but if the law of gravity was not an objective reality we would have no need of parachutes.  The technology of our civilization is a result of scientists and engineers determining what knowledge accurately reflects the real world and what does not.  This is another way of saying that they are distinguishing between knowledge that is true and knowledge that is false.  Do engineers design buildings, cars, airplanes, or power plants without regard to the laws of science and engineering?  If they did, the results could be disastrous and would most likely invite criminal prosecution.  Our technology must constantly deal with the reality (truth) of our world.  As Patrick Grim states:  “If there is no truth, there is no knowledge. [2]

Second, we are able to communicate with other cultures and past civilizations communicate to us via their writings and artifacts.  While different cultures have very different world views, there are areas of common knowledge.  We are all human and we all have certain capabilities and limitations.  The human condition does not change drastically between cultures and ages.  These provide a reality (truth) that all people share.  Postmodernism wants to emphasize our differences but it must be recognized that humans share much regardless of the different cultures and ages in which we live.

Third, Popper notes that all admit we are fallible but being fallible implies a standard of objective truth. [3]  Trueblood makes the observation that error is an unassailable fact of the human condition but if error exists then truth must exist as well.

It is no idle paradox to point out that we are more sure of error than of anything else, since we imply it even by denying it.  Either there is error or there is not.  But if there is not, then those specific persons who have believed that there is have, themselves, been in error.  It is really easier to be sure of falsehood than of truth, yet if there is falsehood there must be truth, for what can falsehood deviate from, if not the truth. [4]

Anyone who would assert that error does not exist would be considered a fool.  So why is there any debate about truth?  David Berlinski asks:  Is the statement “there are no absolute truths” an absolute truth?  If it is, then some truths are absolute after all. [5]

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[1]   Richard J. Evans, In Defense of History (New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 1999), p. 193.

[2]   Patrick Grim, Questions of Value (Chantilly, VA:  The Teaching Company, 2005), p. 127.

[3]   Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (London:  Routledge Classics, 2002), p. 21.

[4]   David Elton Trueblood, Philosophy of Religion (New York:  Harper & Row, 1957), p. 45.

[5]   David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion (New York:  Crown Forum, 2008), p. 129.

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The Heart Has Its Reasons

In the past several blogs, we have determined that human experience and logic are not always reliable guides to knowing what is true.  Another faculty available to us is what we call our heart or emotions.  However, we have conflicting ideas about the role the heart should take in deciding what is true.  Some tell us we should not act on our emotions alone; we should have reasons for taking a particular path or point of view. [1]  We are told that propaganda is a form of persuasion that appeals to our emotions rather than our reason [2] and propaganda is such a negative term.  Some say that emotions are irrational [3] and stupid [4]; that emotions happen to us and we do not control our emotions. [5]  But others say that emotions have intelligence and involve responsibility, [6] give our lives meaning, address the concerns we have with the world, and are how we engage the world. [7]  To sort through this conflicting advice, we must first understand what the heart or emotions are.

What Is Our Heart?

Webster’s defines the heart as “the center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotion”.  So when we talk about the heart, we are actually talking about several different aspects of human existence, not just one.  If we are to understand the role our heart plays in determining what is true, we must determine the nature of our feelings, emotions, and intuition.

Our problem is that we talk much about our heart and we base many of our decisions upon our emotions but we seem to have little idea what it is that has such an influence upon our lives.  It is like we know something exists but we find it difficult to verbalize what it is.  Well, psychology has told us for a long time that a large part of our lives involve our subconscious.  What is our subconscious?  Webster’s define it as what is beyond our conscious which really does not provide much help.  Science does provide us with help.  First, scientists tell us that we humans sense many things unconsciously. [8]  Our physical world offers us a flood of information.  If our mind did not filter out some of the data, it would be so overloaded we would not be able to function.  Our subconscious consists of information we were not even consciously aware we were receiving.  Second, doctors and scientists tell us that the brain remembers all our senses have ever experienced.  Brain surgery has shown that when certain areas of the brain are stimulated, sensations long forgotten are remembered.  It is obvious our brain is limited in the amount of material it can process consciously so all this other information resides beyond our consciousness.   We cannot remember all that happened to us as children but these experiences do impact our current lives.

While our conscious mind deals with what we are currently aware and remember our subconscious consists of the totality of our life’s experiences.  It would be to our benefit to be able to utilize the totality of our life’s experiences in making decisions rather than to just depend upon the information available to our conscious mind.  Our heart is the way we accomplish this; it brings the entirety of our life’s experiences to bear on the question on which we are working.  Our emotions are a method of summarizing our entire life’s experiences so they can be communicated quickly.  Love is just a shorthand way of acknowledging all the connections that exist between two people.  Anger is a quick way of expressing displeasure of all the slights, frustrations, or humiliations a particular situation has brought us.

Problem with Relying on Our Heart

Relying on the heart to determine what is true, like experience and logic, has its problems.  If our heart is the sum total of our life experiences, our heart is like a flywheel; it keeps us on a steady course.  That is why change is so difficult; we are going against our past and we must ignore our feelings and emotions.  Our heart could mislead us if our previous experiences are at variance with reality and, in these situations, we will need to use our rational abilities to override our heart.  If the heart is just the unconscious sensory data we have personally experienced but filter out, then, as we have previously noted, we face the problem of depending solely upon our experiences.  Our heart or emotions can also be exploited by others.  Thomas Sowell states:  “Many of the unprecedented mass horrors of the 20th century were the work of charismatic political leaders who knew how to manipulate people’s emotions.” [9]

The fact is the heart is not the sole answer to the problem of determining what is true.  For example, if we depend upon our heart to prove Christianity, then Christianity has no validity over any other religion.  Someone else’s heart might tell them to become a Muslim or a Buddhist.  How could a Christian counter such an argument?  A Christian cannot use their heart as an argument and deny its use to others.  If my feelings are justification for a particular belief and your feelings lead you to a different belief, we have no way to resolve the issue.  The actual reasons for our beliefs are hidden in our subconscious and only revealed through our feelings, emotions or intuition.  There is no way within a few minutes or hours we can discuss the totality of our life’s experiences and how our experiences lead us to a particular belief.  Conflicting beliefs will always remain in conflict and the truth remains forever hidden.

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[1]   Robert J. Gula, Nonsense (Mount Jackson, VA:  Axios Press, 2002), p. 14.

[2]   Gula, p. 15.

[3]   Robert C. Solomon, The Passions:  Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions, Part I (Chantilly, VA:  The Teaching Company, 2006), p. 1.

[4]   Robert C. Solomon, The Passions:  Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions, Part II (Chantilly, VA:  The Teaching Company, 2006), p. 11.

[5]   Robert C. Solomon, The Passions:  Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions, Part I (Chantilly, VA:  The Teaching Company, 2006), p. 1.

[6]   Ibid., p. 157.

[7]   Ibid., p. 12.

[8]   B. Bower, “Minds May Track Danger Unconsciously,” Science News, Vol. 156 (December 11, 1999), 372.

[9]   Thomas Sowell, “Our Emotional Orgies”, (July 23, 1999).

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Rules of Logic

W. P. Montague’s test for self-evident truths, as we noted in the last blog, involves the law of noncontradiction.  Rules of logic, such as this, provided us guidelines in our search for the truth.  As Trueblood states:

It is not intellectually honest to hold a position after it is known that the position leads inevitably to other positions which are recognized as false.  The respect for honesty involves, thus, the respect for consistency.  This presumably is accepted by all; if it is not accepted, intelligent discourse may as well come to an end. [1]

This rule tells us it is important to understand the implications of the positions we take because if we hold a position that involves a contradiction, we cannot expect others to take us seriously.  However, the law of noncontradiction is not an absolute test of truth.  Kant tells us this law can only tell us when two principles are in conflict but cannot tell us if those two principles are true.  Both principles could be false but not in conflict and the law of noncontradiction would not alert us to that fact. [2]  Our legal system provides an example.  There have been people convicted of a crime who later were proved to be innocent.  The jury convicted these people because they determined beyond a reasonable doubt the facts of the case proved the defendants were guilty and because they were of the opinion no major contradictions were present in the prosecution’s case.  Just because no contradictions are apparent does not indicate we have discovered a truth.

Lack of Knowledge

Both deductive and inductive logic can only work with the data the mind has.  Since humans are finite and have incomplete knowledge, logic will always work with incomplete data.  This means some of the conclusions reached by logic will be in error, not because of bad logic, but because of incomplete information.  It is an unfortunate part of the human condition that we will always make errors because our knowledge is limited; this has been and will be the cause of much human suffering.  Our medical science is proof of this.  Doctors do not know everything about the human body and diseases and as a result they do not have the knowledge and technology to heal all patients.  Any new technology represents a great number of unknowns and these unknowns can have tragic consequences.   For example, when engineers designed air bags for automobiles, they did so to protect human life and for the most part they succeeded.  However several young children have been killed by them because the engineers were limited in what they could foresee.  Aviation has had many accidents which have cost many lives but these accidents have taught us much about the technology of flying.  In spite of our lack of knowledge, humans are willing to pay the price to advance our knowledge.  We want to know the unknown and this desire, to a great extent, drives human progress.

An example of this human desire to know the unknown and the limits to logic is illustrated by the Dadaists who were a group artists and writers of the early 20th century.  These artists were horrified by the carnage of World War I and by what they considered to be the mechanical and rationalistic societies in which they lived.  In reaction, they deliberately stopped making sense.  The art they produced was nonsensical and highly experimental.  We should be able to understand their motive.  All of us should recognize that the mindset of the world—what is known—produces some of the horrors we see in our world and this should drive us to push on the boundaries of what is known in the hopes of finding a better way.

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[1]   David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row:  1963), pp. 9-10.

[2]   Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, ed. Mortimer J. Adler (Chicago:  Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1990), p. 65.

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Deductive Logic

Deductive logic is reasoning from a known principle to an unknown.  This approach is illustrated by Archimedes who, speaking of the principle of leverage, stated if he were given a place to stand he would move the world.  In philosophy and religion, if we can determine a known principle (a place to stand), our task of determining truth is greatly simplified.  However, how do we know that a particular known principle is really true?  If we start questioning what we believe is a known principle, we eventually will encounter a fact that we cannot prove.  Consider the classical syllogism:

All men are mortal;

Socrates is a man;

Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

The known principle is “all men are mortal” but how do we know this is true?  As we saw in the last blog, we cannot use inductive logic to prove this statement.  While everyone we have observed on earth up to this point in time is mortal, we cannot prove that in the future we will not find someone who is immortal.  We must agree with Trueblood who states that deductive logic has no perfect right to its premise. [1]

Self Evident Truths

While inductive logic cannot prove any starting or known principle, there are some who claim the existence of self-evident truths or undeniable first principles which can be used to ground our logic.  Self-evident truths, by definition, cannot be proven.  An example of a self-evident truth is:  knowledge is possible.  If we deny it, we are affirming it because we evidently believe knowledge is not possible and that is knowledge.  Another example is:  There is error.  If we deny it, we are saying the proposition is in error which means there is error. [2]   W. P. Montague proposes a test for self-evident truths:  The truth of a particular principle is proved necessary if the denial of that principle would involve self-contradiction. [3]  The above two examples conform to his test.  While at first glance this sounds like a solution to our problem, it does not because as Trueblood notes, “it is not easy to find propositions which meet this rigorous standard”. [4]  With the few self-evident principles we have, it is difficult to construct a philosophy on them because we would need to employ human experience and logic to make any use of these principles.  As we have seen, human experience and logic have their flaws.

_________________________

[1]   David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row:  1963), p. 107.

[2]   Trueblood, p. 88.

[3]   As quoted in David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row:  1963), p. 89.

[4]   Trueblood, p. 89.

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Inductive Logic

The first area of logic we will evaluate is inductive logic which is reasoning from particular facts or individual cases to a general principle.  A large part of science is based upon inductive logic and we will use science as an example when analyzing inductive logic.  Science gathers particular facts from around the world and even across our universe and is able to deduce general principles of how the natural world operates.  A good illustration of inductive logic is Newton and the law of gravitation.  Newton took observations of the planets in our solar system revolving around our sun and observations of the tendency of all objects on earth when thrown into the air to return to the ground and used these seemingly disparate observations to formulate the general law of gravitation that applies to all these phenomena.

The power of inductive logic is evidenced by the fact that through science we are able to understand how our material world functions which has enabled us to develop our technology.  Our technology has transformed human existence.  It has fed the hungry by increasing the yield of our crops.  It has healed the sick.  In fact, as Gopi Krishna points out, science has done more to heal the sick by eradicating diseases such as small pox than all the religious mystics and saints over the ages who performed healing miracles. [1]  Many of us owe our lives to the advances made in medical sciences.  Science has enriched our lives by enabling us to experience so much more than our ancestors through advances in transportation and communications.  We are able to travel and communicate easily worldwide; we are able to transmit pictures and information across our solar system and beyond.  Science has enabled us to invent all manner of labor saving devices that give us leisure time to do what we want, not what we must.  Science has, together with philosophy, given us a method of determining what is true and what is not.  The scientific method of developing a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis, revising the hypothesis based upon test results, and then repeating the process sharpens our thinking.

But inductive logic has its limits just like human experience.  The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines inductive logic as “any form of reasoning in which the conclusion, though supported by the premises, does not follow from them necessarily”.  Under deductive logic it further expands on what inductive logic is:  “the truth of the conclusion is verifiable only in terms of future experience and certainty is attainable only if all possible instances have been examined”.

An example of the limits of inductive logic is give by the scientist Carol Cleland when she notes that we can never prove that all copper expands when heated because we cannot test all copper. [2]  We cannot go one million years into the future or one million years into the past to verify all copper behaves the way it does today.  The French scientist Henri Poncairé notes when scientists conduct an experiment, they can never be sure that a later experiment will produce the same result.  It can be highly probable but it cannot be absolutely proven. [3]  The philosopher Karl Popper maintains the laws of science transcend experience but our science is based upon experience (experiments) [4]  and as we have seen in the past two chapters, human experience has its limits.   The philosopher David Hume states we cannot prove that what we have not experienced resembles what we have experienced. [5]  Scientists cannot assume that experiments performed in the future will resemble experiments they performed today.

Also, we cannot be positive that the scientific experiments we perform on our world would be identical to one performed in another place in the universe.  Where and when we perform our experiments can matter.  Popper gives an example of the scientific law that the sun rises every 24 hours.  This seems like a scientific law but if we go north of the Arctic Circle, we will find that in the summer the sun never sets and in the winter it never rises. [6]  It is a firmly established fact the further science goes from the present time and location, the less certain science is.

Scientists could argue that we do have methods of looking into the past to verify what happened then.  Science can observe ancient events in the fossil record and look back in time via astronomy.  The problem with this approach is that the number of events we have observed is so infinitesimal compared to all the events that have occurred; we have not examined all possible incidents.  We cannot know if additional observations will produce a different conclusion.  It was not that long ago scientists believed that catastrophes played no part in the evolution of life on earth (uniformitarianism).  The information the scientist lacked back then was evidence the earth has been hit by asteroids and comets several times in its past.  What other information will we discover in the future which will change our view of our world and the universe?

Inductive logic fails because we humans are limited in space and time.  We cannot travel to all parts of the universe to verify our conclusions are valid everywhere.  We do not have sufficient time and resources to gather all the facts we need to validate our conclusions.  We must agree with Trueblood who states that inductive logic “has no perfect right to its conclusion”. [7]

__________________________

[1]   Gopi Krishna, Living with Kundalini (Boston:  Shambhala, 1993), p. 328.

[2]   Carol E. Cleland, “Historical Science, Experimental Science, and the Scientific Method”, Geology, Vol. 29 (November 2001), pp. 987-988.

[3]   Henri Poincaré, The Foundations of Science (Lancaster, PA:  The Science Press, 1946), p. 96.

[4]   Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (London:  Routledge Classics, 2002), p. 71.

[5]   David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (London:  Penguin Books, 1969), p. 137.

[6]   Popper, p. 68.

[7]   David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row:  1963), p. 107.

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Logic

The past few blogs have concluded that human experiences, both our own experiences and the experiences of others, can provide assistance in our search for what is true.  However, they can also be very misleading.  Isaac Watts explains it succinctly:  “. . .we are deceived by our senses, by our imaginations, by our passions and appetites; by the authority of men, by education and custom.” [1]  Therefore, if we want to find out what is true, we must have more help than can be provided by our experiences.

Another resource we can utilize is our reason and logic.  Using reason and logic does not mean we disregard human experience.  In fact, logic must use experience as Trueblood notes:

A great part of the life of reason lies in the consideration of the fruitful relationship between experience and thought.  The mere experience, though necessary, is never sufficient, for it must be analyzed and developed by a rational process of ordered thinking. [2]

Kant compares thinking to the flight of a bird.  In flight a bird needs air to support its wings just as the wings of our airplanes need air.  In thinking we need experience to support our reasoning. [3]  The role of logic is to assist us in our search for truth by giving us methods of examining what our culture has taught us, where our senses lead us.  It can help us correct our errors. [4]  So let us take our own experiences plus the experiences of others and examine what logic can tell us about how we know what is true.  We will first examine inductive logic and then deductive logic.

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[1]   Isaac Watts, Logic:  The Right use of Reason in the Inquiry after Truth (Morgan, PA:  Soli Delo Gloria Publications, 1996), pp. 2-3.

[2]   David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row:  1963), p. 70.

[3]   Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, ed. Mortimer J. Adler (Chicago:  Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1990), p. 16.

[4]   Watts, 206-209.

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