Re: On the science of everything

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>
Date: Fri Sep 23 2005 - 17:16:53 EDT

On Fri, 23 Sep 2005 16:08:51 -0400 "Alexanian, Moorad"
<alexanian@uncw.edu> writes:
> Theories in physics are expressed in mathematical language and the
> predications derived from them are very much like the axioms and
> theorems derived in Euclidean geometry. The theories exist
> independent
> of the creator of the theory. Of course, the nature of that
> existence is
> itself puzzling, viz., does it exist in conscious minds only or
> somewhere else. In any case, the creator of the theory can extricate
> himself/herself from the content of the theory.
>
> The fundamental question is if life and consciousness can be made
> part
> of a theory in the same sense as the objects studied in physics. Is
> such
> a successful theory necessarily materialistic, i.e., purely
> physical. It
> seems rather difficult to conceive of a theory that explains the
> very
> conscious and rational entity that is doing the theorizing. Is the
> need
> for a Creator, or ID, a necessary logical component of such a
> successful
> description of the whole of reality?
>
> Moorad
>
It is obvious that biology at present is more likely to be verbally
descriptive than encapsulated mathematically. Exact measurements are more
difficult to make. Indeed, even detection of living things can pose grave
problems. Consider the recent estimates of microbial species in ocean
water and soil through measuring the number of genomes. Despite problems,
if one is doing science, there has to be a clear empirical connection.
All science must be logically consistent, as must philosophical studies.
But the latter is seldom concerned with an empirical test. One of the few
that fail empirically is Schiller's pessimistic claim that negatives pile
up until they overwhelm the individual. The observed fact is that human
beings possess selective memories, with the good more likely remembered
and the bad forgotten. If consistency is the sole test and conflict with
observation is avoided, there are several possible philosophical views,
including materialism. Many object furiously to this last, but it is
because they demand an "explanation" of something on their terms, not on
the commitments of a materialist. I would say it's akin to demanding why
various physical constants are as they are, when the only answer that can
be given is that that's just the way they are.

The question about the breadth of explanation is akin to the demand that
the physical sciences explain the phenomena of life. The life sciences
similarly do not have the categories to explain society. The problem is
more difficult if the claimed phenomena are not detectable physically,
even via a proxy.

Problems are not restricted to biology. Consider the transformation of H
into C--happens all the time in the sun with the production of heat,
neutrons, and other things I don't know about. So how did the guests at
Cana survive the essentially instantaneous transformation of enough H in
the water to provide C for alcohol, sugars and the more complicated
compounds necessary for good wine? What was the original volume of water
compared to the produced volume of wine? Note that I've kept the
questions strictly within the realm of the physical, except for the cause
of the change.
Dave
Received on Fri Sep 23 17:22:09 2005

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