Re: Warning Labels

Don N Page (
Thu, 13 Nov 97 14:59:07 -0700

Somehow the message I tried to post yesterday morning did not come back
to me, so in case it did not get posted after all, I am trying again now to
post it. I shall also add the addition I thought of later yesterday, and
rephrase my final clause.

The statement from the State School Board of Alabama said, "No one was
present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about
life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact."

One could in principle make the same second statement about anything
beyond one's immediate conscious awareness: (1) the universe before ten
billion years ago, (2) the earth before ten thousand years ago, (3) human
history before one hundred years ago, (4) one's experiences before ten minutes
ago, (5) other people, (6) the physical world beyond one's consciousness, (7)
the future, etc. Young earth creationists presumably don't believe in the
first two, solipsists presumably don't believe in the third and fifth (Do any
of you know any I could actually interact with? I'd love to meet one, at least
if he or she wouldn't totally ignore me.), amnesiacs might not believe in the
fourth, some idealists perhaps would not believe in the sixth (Any such
idealists out there willing to clarify your beliefs?), and those who believe in
the A-theory of time (such as perhaps Garry DeWeese) would presumably not
believe in the seventh. I myself could say that I don't believe in a classical
physical world and in spacetime in the most deeply fundamental sense, because I
believe that the physical world is quantum, and that spacetime is just an
appoximate concept with something more fundamental underlying it that we don't
yet understand. But certainly I would accept that all of the seven items above
are, within their limitations, very good approximate theoretical concepts, and
I would be reluctant to say any of them are not "facts" without saying that all
of them are are not facts.

Don Page