Has anyone seen the movie "The Kingdom of Heaven"? Besides the thing that the movie is very well made, the character of Salahuddin acted very well in that movie. I liked the character so much that I got tempted to keep the name of this blog after it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Science and Belief/Faith

Scientists do not believe in anything unless it is proved. Even worse (or better), they do not believe in anything unless it is disproved as well. They have this "reason" attached to everything that happens, and is said to have happened.

While this is better, we are somewhat certain that this won't do to know the complete truth. Godel's theorem demonstrates that knowing and understanding all the true stuff, is not possible in an "axiomatic system using numbers". So the logical approach is somewhat not enough to understand the world.

Sometimes it looks like, we have reached a stage where the assumptions used in physics, do not have any evidence possible, which can be detectable by use of machinery. And some of the "assumptions" look much like physical phenomena, actually, in these theories. One such thing is the "Hysenberg's uncertainty principle". It looks like, the light (photon) when it hits the electron, the electron absorbes it's energy, and loses position or momentum, enough to get the uncertainty proposed. (This is one interpretation of the principle, though). So, in some sense, there are un-observable physical phenomena, that science might agree to.

Godel's theorem says that theories (that use numbers) might have contradictions. So, are we sure that the theories that we use today (geomtery/algebra etc...) are devoid of them? How do we find out if that is so? To be more particular, are we even sure that the theories on which Godel theorem is based on, are free of contradictions? That Godel's theorem is based on safe and sound logic?

If logic does not reach till the end, and if the "scientific method" of "observe and explain" does not work everytime, then what do we do? We can after all, embrace a new scientific model (better than the axiomatic systems) and apparatus of applying it (better than "observe and explain", may be).

So, what could be a possible extension? I think one could try "faith based explanation" than "observe and explain", and the strict logical models of theorem proving. This is not so un-scientific, as it seems at first. In this model, one has to prove the following:

1. That a physical phenomenon occurs, when believed to occur.
a. (Even the one who is reading the proof should believe so)
2. It does not occur when not believed (Optional). Ditto.
3. A possible explanation of it, within the current science.

In the realms of the brain, there are many such faith based occurrences and phenomena. These were rejected by science folks, because they lack physical evidence, which is very well justified. However, when science itself talks about "physical phenomena that can't be evidenced", may be, we can see them with some little faith, any believers? :-(

I am arguing this way, might be someone will be unsure with this, however, do not forget that logic is also inside one's brain. Or rather, in the collective reasoning of the thinking humans' brains. How can you prove to someone who is not human (may be an alien) that logical explanation is the right way to explain things? May be it is not? May be it is just an artifact of the way the brain is designed, that we humans believe that it is "the way"? After all, it can't be proved logically by humans, that logic is correct, by design, isn't it? So, what if it is wrong? What is that is not "the way", and something else is?

I would even propose a (hypothetical) way to disprove me! Consider a hypothetical machine that can read human thoughts. Give it, a scientist's brain, when he/she is reasoning logically about something. Later, ask some other scientist, to analyze what he sees through the machine. After all, it might not be logically what is expected? Simply because the first scientist is thinking, that he could not spot the anamoly? Or worse yet, logically it all makes sense, however logic itself is wrong?

Also, we have seen many stories of yogi people and saints doing miracles. If you don't believe in such stuff, I have something else for you. Sometime back a "supernatural phenomenon" was caught on a camera, really. It came in news world-wide. A human form came out of nowhere in a surveillence camera, and jumped into the sky, vanishing. At the place where he vanished, there was a car with a dent at the exact location. May be, he is a time traveller, who knows. And mind you, this is not anyone's thing, no religion group involved, nothing. Just a random surveillence camera picked this video!

All that godmen stuff is rejected by science people, while religion men vainly try to prove existence of God to the un-believers. And some philosophies start with the axiom "Existence of God can't be proved, it can only be believed" stuff. Is that a theory about God or not, I would say it is.

However why don't scientists take a little faith and explore in that territory? Like, have an axiom similar to the above that "Some physical phenomenon need to be believed to occur, in order to be observed", what say? May be they discover that the world is different when they have faith vs when they are purely logical? The faith question, was posed many times by many people in human history. Because of the extensive purported "applications" (I doubt however) of faith, it looks like a natural candidate to extend the scientific models, just for experimenting before reaching a conclusion.

I am not talking about believeing in God or "theory of design" or something like that. I am fine with believing anything, if it helps us humans to achieve something. Let's believe that "all matter behaves like living creatures, with some randomness built-in" and develop models around that, if that helps push the frontiers of scientific application further. Let's believe in "Logic is wrong", if that helps the same again. Like today, we are believeing some of the theoretical assumptions, let's believe something else, if it helps us go forward.

Definitely scientists can try for once, by including the axiom of "belief is necessary to observe" some physical phenomenon. Who knows, it might expand the ability of the theory to discover the truth?

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