I am a Scientist

I am a scientist.  Now that’s hard to explain since I don’t have a Ph.D. in a scientific discipline and work doing science experiments.

When most people say they are something, they are referring to a religion.  I’m not religious.  I’m an atheist, but I don’t like of thinking of myself in terms of what I’m not.  I am a person that believes science is the best cognitive system for explaining reality.  Period.  I’m not sure if there are any other contenders.  I’ve written off religion, so what is there?  Philosophy and art?  Scientists used to be called natural philosophers because they studied nature.  It wasn’t until the 1800s that they began to be called scientists.

For years now I’ve been wondering if philosophy had much to contribute towards our knowledge of reality.  I argue about this with my friend Bill who says no, and I defend philosophy with a maybe.  Now The Atlantic has a wonderful article on this very subject, “Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?

People claim they want to know the truth.  As far as I can tell, science is the only system that has any justification for providing the truth, all other intellectual systems fail in comparison to science.  That’s why I say I’m a scientist.  I believe in science.  I put my faith in science.  However, science isn’t a philosophy or religion.  It’s a system for testing reality and developing a consensus about the results.

Currently, I don’t think science can answer all our questions.  Aesthetics and ethics are two such areas outside of the domain of science, at least for now.  Mathematics is the tool of science, and its own discipline.  Mathematics is the only abstract cognitive system that works well with reality, and thus provides a tool to science.

Religion has no relationship with reality.  It’s purely based on abstract ideas, all theoretical.  Many religious people attack science, or refuse to believe or accept what science has learned about reality.  Philosophers try to embrace science and keep their favorite abstractions.  They hope to connect ideal forms with reality, but that is very hard to do.  Justice is a philosophical concept, as well as a religious concept.  People naturally want justice.  It’s a deep seated desire.  But there is no justice in reality.  If a gamma ray burst hits the Earth and life on this planet is sterilized, does that reflect some kind of justice?  The best we can do is create ethics and laws based on what the consensus of the population wants.

Right now philosophy can claim some value in logic, rhetoric, aesthetics and ethics.

There are two kinds of people on this Earth.  Those who recognize reality, and those who live in fantasy.  But even the fantasy believers accept science to a degree.  How can you get on an airplane or go in for brain surgery without accepting science?  Our houses, cars and gadgets are all products of science.  The food we eat exists because of science, as does the medicine we take, the clothes we wear, and most everything else we come into contact with in our daily lives.

Science won a long time ago when it came to explaining reality, it’s just most people haven’t realized it yet.

When it comes to explaining how things work, science is the only legitimate tool we have.

JWH – 4/24/12

3 thoughts on “I am a Scientist”

  1. Good post Jim. I think philosophy has its’ place if for no other reason than to open up the minds of scientists that would otherwise miss important things in the world/universe. It’s easy for scientists to get lost in physics – at least physicists that I know – and box themselves into close-mindedness, in a manner of speaking. I think we need philosophy to imagine the unimaginable then we turn to physics/math to prove/disprove these ideas/thoughts. I would argue that cosmology is very much philosophical in nature at this point as are other areas of science. Problem solving, cognitive thinking, and abstract thinking…all of these play a role in societal advancement I think. Philosophy is very much part of the process and an important one I think. Hopefully in a couple of years when I finish grad school my thoughts on this will be more concise/coherent. Right now however, based on my limited knowledge, I’m for philosophy all the way. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

A Deep Look by Dave Hook

Thoughts, ramblings and ruminations

Reißwolf

A story a day keeps the boredom away: SF and Fantasy story reviews

AGENT SWARM

Pluralism and Individuation in a World of Becoming

the sinister science

sf & critical theory join forces to destroy the present

Short Story Magic Tricks

breaking down why great fiction is great

Xeno Swarm

Multiple Estrangements in Philosophy and Science Fiction

fiction review

(mostly) short reviews of (mostly) short fiction

A Just Recompense

I'm Writing and I Can't Shut Up

Universes of the Mind

A celebration of stories that, while they may have been invented, are still true

Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Make Lists, Not War

The Meta-Lists Website

From Earth to the Stars

The Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine Author & Editor Blog

SFF Reviews

Short Reviews of Short SFF

Featured Futures

classic science fiction and more

Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch

Witchcraft, Magick, Paganism & Metaphysical Matters

Pulp and old Magazines

Pulp and old Magazines

Matthew Wright

Science, writing, reason and stuff

My Colourful Life

Because Life is Colourful

The Astounding Analog Companion

The official Analog Science Fiction and Fact blog.

What's Nonfiction?

Where is your nonfiction section please.

A Commonplace for the Uncommon

Reading, Ruminating, Writing, & Other Neurological Disorders

a rambling collective

Short Fiction by Nicola Humphreys

The Real SciBlog

Articles about riveting topics in science

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

The Subway Test

Joe Pitkin's stories, queries, and quibbles regarding the human, the inhuman, the humanesque.

SuchFriends Blog

'...and say my glory was I had such friends.' --- WB Yeats

Neither Kings nor Americans

Reading the American tradition from an anarchist perspective

TO THE BRINK

Speculations on the Future: Science, Technology and Society

I can't believe it!

Problems of today, Ideas for tomorrow

wordscene

Peter Webscott's travel and photography blog

The Wonderful World of Cinema

Where classic films are very much alive! It's Wonderful!

The Case for Global Film

Films from everywhere and every era

A Sky of Books and Movies

Books & movies, art and thoughts.

Emily Munro

Spinning Tales in the Big Apple

slicethelife

hold a mirror up to life.....are there layers you can see?

Being 2 different people.

Be yourself, but don't let them know.

%d bloggers like this: