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Science Is A Method

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Posted by Jim on September 6, 2001 22:11:00 UTC

Science does not offer Truth. It is a method for understanding how the universe works. It collects data (facts), makes descriptions (laws), and searches for explanations (theories). Theories are revised when better data are available. So, our current scientific understanding is not "wrong"*, but it is likely that our understanding/theories will become deeper and more accurate.

Take Newton & Einstein for example. Newton's laws of gravity were not proven wrong when Einstein developed General Relativity. It's just that Einstein's explanations are more accurate. You can still use Newton's laws for many applications but you'll need to invoke Einstein's equations for special circumstances (such as equations from Special Relativity when dealing with near-light speeds).

* - of course, some theories could be wrong...but if so, they'll be corrected. It's difficult to imagine that current theories are 100% wrong since they are based on observational facts. Also, keep in mind the difference between laws and theories. Your professor was probably correct that "laws" are right. These are simply descriptions of the way things work (e.g., equations for planetary motion, equations for mass and energy balances). Theories are where interpretations come into play.

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