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Brian T. Liao
Dec 26, 2018 • 4 min read

On Trusting Science

On the Dark Side of the Moon.

So I’ve met two schools of thought on this subject, should we trust “science?” This usually means what theories that are well tested and accepted in the scientific community. Evolution and gravity are good examples of this. Yet there are those who don’t accept mainstream science. An example is religious Christian folk that reject evolution as it contracts with the Bible. They believe God created all the animals and they were all there since time started. Evolutionists believe that life appeared organically, from organic molecules forming, to organelle systems, to single cell organism, to multi-cell organisms, and growing in complexity until we have the life that we have today.

I used to be pretty scientific basis thinking. It seems more reasonable than religious explanations, which often you have to accept at fact. Miracles and supernatural phenomena sound more like a Greek Myth than a sound explanation of our world.

Yet I also question basing everything on science. Science is an evolving field, where we gain new knowledge piece by piece. For example, gravity. The Greeks were the first to describe and understand the motion of objects. Than Galileo showed that objects fall at the same rate regardless of mass. Newton came up with his theory of gravity, which was consistent and explained Galileo’s results. Einstein built General Relativity, which showed gravity was a product of space-time. His result was consistent with Newton’s theory at human scale, but gave drastic different results at the scale of space. His work is well tested and verified, Gravitational Waves have been detected, Black Holes, motion of planets, and satellite timing and Special Relativity.

Yet in the modern age, where our understanding is heavily built on Einstein’s theory, there are still unreconcilable ideas. Einstein’s theory doesn’t work at a quantum scale, which has been described as Quantum Gravity, where most other interactions in the Universe are described as point particles in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Research will continue in this area and perhaps one day we will have a scientific consensus on how Quantum Gravity might work.

This brings us into the problem with science. Science can explain a lot and is fairly consistent and reliable, but has a lot of open and unsolved problems. Evolution is based off theories and ideas and probabilities that life could turn out the way it did. Nobody knows, they never observed evolution from the billions of years that it was taking place.

At the extreme case, you could argue science is just told by people of authority and literature. How you, yourself measured the constant of gravity? Neutrino Oscillations? Then why do you accept it? Everything in science is taught and passed on, you trust them based on authority, not based on verifiable scientific reasoning. While this could be the case, I would say it is more likely this passing down by scientists of authority and scientific literature is well thought out and tested as there are too many people on it to have it be a fabricated lie.

Scientific ideas also change. At first, it was believed that the Sun and all the planets revolved around the Earth. Then it was shown that the Earth was a planet and it along with the rest of the planets revolved around the sun. To us, the original idea seems so silly, so naive. Yet what will a civilization a thousand years from now say about us? Our ideas about evolution or gravity are so silly and naive. They may seem scientifically sound to our understanding, but there is so much we don’t know, science should not be accepted for at face value.

So I assume most of our scientific theories are wrong, and will be stronger in future. If our ideas of evolution or gravity are likely wrong, why believe them? The problem is if we reject everything, we will never build up to the better model that will exist the future. Science is a progression, where we become less wrong each time. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and our descendants will stand on our shoulders as well.

In all, science is an incredible construct. It can explain so much about the world and is a good basis for understanding. Yet it is incredibly important to understand it’s limitations and it’s history how it becomes less wrong over time. We might not know how the universe started, what is consciousness, what is love, but as we progress, our ancestors will be able to laugh at us for asking such simple questions.

Post by: Brian T. Liao