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Posted by Harv........ on April 11, 2001 21:19:40 UTC

If the universe is such as it is because of math (i.e., a form of platonism), then such a conjecture can never be more than a scientific hypothesis. For example, let's say that the Pythagorean theorem is the reason for the universe and all there is in nature. Let's say that a whole sort of predictions arise from this notion and the accuracy of our predictions are uncanny. Nevertheless, we can but into doubt a few assumptions of the ontological nature of Pythagoreans theorem that couldn't possibly be subject to testing.

For example, we could postulate that there is an 'outside' universe that has a certain regularity that the Pythagorean theorem is only an approximation. In this case, it isn't an ontological law responsible for our universe, but it is some meta-universe that has regularities of nature that produce universes such as ours. Scientifically there is no way to test this possibility.

Another example, let's say that we have very crude instruments in the 21st century. But, let's say that we either advance far enough or come in contact with an advanced interstellar civilization that has such technology, and we see from advanced instruments that the Pythagorean theorem hypothesis starts to deviate from more accurate experiments performed with these advanced instruments. Sure enough, before the experiment is published a brilliant theorist comes along and tells us that it isn't Pythagorean's theorem at all which caused the universe, rather it is the Euler-LaGrange equations which are directly responsible. On and on we could play this cat and mouse game.

Science doesn't produce ontological facts of the world. It produces empirical facts which are always tentative in the sense that they are always somewhat vunerable to change as new developments in science continue to be introduced.

Harv

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