Re: [asa] Does science negate the need for God?

From: Merv <>
Date: Fri Oct 31 2008 - 19:51:18 EDT

Or here could be another possible paradigm for contemplating "how much
do we know?". What if there is an infinite tangled regress of natural
laws and causalities? I know this seems philosophically unlikely or out
of vogue (like an infinitely large universe --though that *has* been
contemplated before.). But can we really know? What if physicists keep
working their way down past quarks, muons, gluons or Hadrons (or
whatever it is particle physicists are down to these days) only to keep
seeing more possibilities of smaller particles? (I really am out of my
element, here, George --- speculation free and unencumbered by any real
knowledge as they say.) Would the Planck constant really make for an
impermeable barrier at the tiny end of the logarithmic scale, or can we
imagine that barrier to be breakable just as we imagine light-speed to
be breakable by some "warp drive"? I don't really know if such
possibilities are tenable in light of the latest physics --maybe George
can enlighten as his patience and time allows.

But back to my main point: Maybe our imagined "body of knowledge" is
more like a fractal boundary in character. I.e. the more we explore,
the more we have to explore. Just like if you stay on a small island
you only have so much exploration you can do. But once you boat away
from it and find a new continent, your world of exploration just took a
quantum leap. So, in a sense, even though you know more after leaving
the island than you did before, your progress as a "percentage" just
took a leap backwards because your exploratory domain just acquired vast
new horizons. If this remained always true, then your "percentage"
would always remain infinitesimal. I'm not saying I actually believe
this to be the case, but, it does seem to match what has happened
through the last few generations of physics as the current discussion
highlights, and I find it a provocative thought with theological
parallels as well.


Oh --and thanks for your suggested word-smithing addition in the other
thread; a much-needed emphasis it was.

George Murphy wrote:
> I agree - most scientists should be very hesitatnt to make any
> supposedly definitive statements about "the status of science in
> general." They may know something about other areas than their
> specialties but that's not the same as being able to speak about the
> current limits of those fields, directions in which they're likely to
> develop, whether or not radical changes in observational data or
> theory are likely to occur in the next 10 years, usw.
> I really don't think it's possible to make any worthwhile quantitative
> estimate of how much we currently know in physics - in part precisely
> because the things that are presently unknown are, well, unknown. If
> further work in high energy physics and cosmology by 2020 has given
> strong support for string theory then we can look back & say, "Well,
> we understood string theory pretty well in 2008 & it seems that that's
> the way the world is." But if in 2020 string theory has gone the way
> of phlogiston & takes its place in the science history museum & we
> find that some totally new explanation works, we'll have to say "Boy,
> we didn't really know anything about this in 2008." & which is it
> going to be? We don't know. & that's in the nature of the case, not
> from a general desire to be vague.
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dehler, Bernie"
> <>
> Cc: "ASA" <>
> Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 12:55 PM
> Subject: RE: [asa] Does science negate the need for God?
>> "...& even at that they should be limited to the scientific areas
>> that they know something about. "
>> In that case, no one could say anything about the status of science
>> in general, since no one is a scientist in every scientific field.
>> George- since you have a Ph.D. in physics, what is your estimate of
>> how much we know about everything in just the field of physics?
>> Obviously it's a guess, but I'm wondering if you'd go for 1%, 50%,
>> 90%, or what... My hunch is that you'd like to not give a number and
>> keep it vague, but I'd like to get some number from you if I can...
>> ...Bernie
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: []
>> Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 9:46 AM
>> To: Dehler, Bernie
>> Cc: ASA
>> Subject: RE: [asa] Does science negate the need for God?
>> I hope it will not seem elitist if I say that statements about how
>> little we know of science are considerably more significant coming
>> from scientists than from non-scientists. & even at that they should
>> be limited to the scientific areas that they know something about.
>> Otherwise they have about the same value as my statements about
>> Japanese literature - d.h., not much.
>> Shalom,
>> George

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Received on Fri Oct 31 18:47:00 2008

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