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I think JD may be quoting Kierkegaard, who is quoting Tertullian - Certum est, quia impossibile est.

The logical talents of the early Christian fathers were perhaps not their strongest suit.


That's the whole point of argument, and it comes from the fact that we don't know exactly what we mean by science, is it what we can touch, what can be proved logically, what can be theorized without material proof, does it also include those things that are not there yet for the simple reason that have not been discovered yet.

No, we do very much know what we mean by science. Science isn't specific discoveries, but the social and personal processes by which those discoveries are made. I would be very surprised indeed if the members of the Royal Society in Newton's time would have considered a nuclear bomb to be an act of god, once someone took the time to explain radioactivity and fission to them.

Some scientists seem to drift into quasi-authoritarian religiosity, and new ideas can take a generation or more to become accepted. (The theory of continental drift is one of the most famously disappointing examples.)

But as long as reliable evidence is provided scientists will, eventually and sometimes grudgingly, remain open to reassessing how they believe the world works.

This shouldn't be confused with a lack of appreciation for strangeness. Quantum theory and relativity are counter-intuitive - but only because our natural intuition evolved in a different direction.

In fact all of science works in the opposite direction to naive intuition, by definition. Anything which is obvious and intuitive, or 'obvious' because it 'feels right' in a purely subjective, irrational or conveniently expedient way, isn't science.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 06:31:41 PM EST
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