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Re: Re: Re: Re: Illuminating The Void/Alexander

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Posted by Benjamin Nelson on January 24, 2001 19:53:35 UTC

Alexander:

And I say that you are not a person with an argument; you are a person with a contortion, the most elaborate of epicycles to get the universe to conform to what you desperately hope to be true. To that end, philosophers of science tell us that there is no such thing as a concrete theory; how we design our experiments and how we interpret their results are embedded in a constantly expanding web of beliefs and assumptions.

Nevertheless, it is because of this expanding web that nothing in science is sacrosanct (not even the "theory of inflation"); indeed, the most beloved doctrine can be overthrown by contradictory data. Yet it is because of this willingness to put its feet to reality’s fires that science, like no other system of belief, has given us so much vision to see the world as is may really be. In this way, it is unlike any religion or philosophy.

To be sure, nothing in life is guaranteed; everything is based upon contingency and chance. And ultimately, all of us are faced with the same dilemma: the pictures we draw, the systems we build, can never fully embrace the richness and the unruliness of creation. Yet it is endemic to our species that we keep trying, huddled on our tiny planet, shining our flashlights into the penumbra. Our task -- like that of science -- is to put our own feet to reality’s fires, to submit our beliefs to honest exploration. It will keep the standards of evidence high.

B. L. Nelson

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