SCIENCE  (500)

In The Golden Seat, in the center, is the Patron of Science.

The wonderfully instructive non-mathematical physics guide, Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality  informs us that “Science is built on the bones of dead theories”.  In the opening discussions of Quanta, it poses the following query:

Can we tell with absolute certainty?
 a) how an atom looks
 b) how an atom does not look
 c) both
 d) neither

Epstein explains that we cannot know with absolute certainty how an atom looks (answer b).

The book Thinking Physics explores an assumption that most of us hold: when we read science books we assume that the scientists who write them know everything about their areas of expertise. This assumption is wrong.  All they really know for sure is how the world does NOT work. Why?  Because science is not like geometry where proofs are based on logic.  In science, the proofs are ultimately based on experiences and experiments.  The laboratory is the Supreme Court of Science.  Ideas can be disproved with certainty, but no scientific theory or fact can be proven with absolute certainty.  To paraphrase Epstein, no one knows for certain what an atom looks like (though scientists have clearly illustrated it), but everyone knows (for certain) that it does not look like a cat!

What is Science?
Science is so broad in its scope that it is impossible for any individual to understand it all.  Even professional scientists must specialize, and develop expertise in a narrow field:  most molecular biologist will know little of particle physics, or vice-versa.  What unites all aspects of science is the scientific method, a rigorous approach to establish reliable knowledge.  The scientist observes phenomena and collects data to formulate an explanation for the phenomena – the hypothesis.  The word hypothesis derives from the Greek word, hypotithenai, meaning “to put under” or “to suppose”.  In short, hypothesis is an educated guess based on observation.  Scientists 'prove' their hypothesis or suppositions with tests that have repeatable outcomes.

Theories & Laws
When a hypothesis is verified and accepted to be true, it is called a scientific theory.  A theory is not a hunch.  It means that a hypothesis has been confirmed by all available data (e.g., data obtained through the repeated testing of hypotheses).  A theory is the most elaborate form of scientific knowledge not yet disproved by experiment.  In the hard sciences, a theory can never be proved; it can only be disproved by experiment or by observation.

Theories do not become laws.  A scientific law must exist prior to the start of using the scientific method. Scientific laws are simple, true, universal and absolute; they are the foundations of science.  They don’t need external proofs, just like a mathematical axiom doesn’t need proof.  They are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true. 

Fields of Science
Science has two major fields : 
1) Theory-based Sciences.  Sciences that are based on laws and theories which are based on observations in the real world.  There are three main theory-based sciences:  Physical Science, Life Science and Social Science (Physical and Life sciences are often grouped under ‘Natural Science’).

2) Formal Sciences.  Formal Sciences are based on definitions and rules.

Grand Overview

Methods & Domains
To ask ‘What is Science’ it serves to ask ‘What is a scientific method?” and “What is a scientific domain?”

Method of science (epistemology):  refers to the ways or means to gather facts, data, or information to confirm or refute propositions (hypothesis).  The scientific method is a structured way to gain knowledge where a hypotheses is tested (with instruments or by experiment) by comparison to data (experience) that can be accurately repeated and confirmed by others.  In short, knowledge-claims are experientially validated.

Domain of Science (ontology): refers to the types of events or phenomena that become objects of investigation.  A knowledge-claim – something that one believes to be true, yet is also open to discussion and debate – covers physical objects, biology, psychology, history, anthropology, sociology and even spirituality.

The goal of science is to discover the rules of nature and human behavior.  Those rules enable the scientist to predict the future. 

Philosophy of Science
In Plato’s celebrated Allegory of the Cave (The Republic), Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and attempt to ascribe forms to these shadows.  The shadows are as close as the cave dwellers get to viewing reality and that true reality is unavailable to those who use their senses.  The philosopher is one who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the cave dwellers.  Allegory of the Cave is an attempt to explain the philosopher's place in society:  to attempt to enlighten the 'cave dwellers'.  The Allegory of the Cave also serves as an insightful illustration of the Noumenal-Phenomenal distinction.

When Newtonian physics ruled the day, materialist viewed the universe as a deterministic machine – no room for free will, God, grace, divine intervention, or anything else that even vaguely resembled Spirit.  The spiritually minded or idealistic philosophers countered this: if the universe is winding down (the Second Law of Thermodynamics), something or somebody had to have previously wound it up.  Who then is that somebody? Newtonian physics doesn’t disprove God; on the contrary, they maintained, it proves the absolute necessity of a Divine Creator!

To jump ahead a bit, in Quantum QuestionsKen Wilber in his integral philosophy or “theory of everything” (the living totality of "matter, body, mind, soul and spirit”) reflects on the philosophy of science:

“Modern physics has been used to both support and refute determinism, free-will, God, Spirit, immortality, causality, predestination, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Taoism. Today we hear of the supposed relation between modern physics and Eastern mysticism.  Bootstrap theory, Bell’s theorem, the implicate order, the holographic paradigm – all of this supposed to prove Eastern mysticism…What remains true and unchanged is simply that the issue itself is extremely complex.”

Bridges to Religion & Beauty
From their studies to end Apartheid in South Africa, Spiral Dynamics founders Don Beck and Dr. Christopher Cowan developed an easy-to-understand cultural model where life conditions and mind capacities are categorized into 8 stages or levels (based on colors).  The dominate stage (Orange - 50% of the societal power base) is known as the ‘Scientific-Materialism’ stage.

With Science (e.g., empirical Truth) being the current dominate cultural stage in our society, The Golden Seat sees science as the cultural ‘ground base’ and attempts to build two key bridges, one to Religion and the other to Beauty:

‘Science Bridge to Religion’

‘Science Bridge to Beauty’