Re: truth and science

David Campbell (
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 18:56:27 -0400

>So when I say that gold has atomic weight of 79, or that 7+5 = 12, those
>are only approximate statements? Granted, God knows the truth of these
>propositions in *all* their instances, while I only know a paltry few.
>But nevertheless, they are not approximations!
These examples involve two means of finding truth. Mathematical truths and
certain physical constants are true by definition, e.g. carbon 12 has an
atomic mass of 12 because that's how atomic weight is defined. The atomic
mass of gold is about 79/12 times the atomic weight of carbon, to the best
of our ability to measure it. From all our observations, it seems
reasonable to believe that the mass of a given isotope is constant;
however, it's possible that the ratio of different isotopes of gold might
be different elsewhere in the universe. Thus, the atomic mass of gold is
about 79 to the best of our ability to measure it, and if we assume that
the universe is real, consistent, and comprehensible (reasonable
assumptions if God made it), it is reasonable to assume that this
measurement is approximately correct. God, being omniscient, knows the
truth of statements about the universe (physical or not) and can make
statements about it with the same certainty as we can in saying "1+1=2,
given the assumptions underlying basic arithmetic". He can also identify
those statements that are neither true nor false (e.g., the location of a
particle to greater precision than the uncertainty principle allows).

David Campbell