Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Foundation of Science

The foundation of all science can be attributed to the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

"The assurance of things hoped for", to borrow J MacArthur's explanation, is simply believing that God will do what He promised He would do. Exactly, 100%, totally consistent, no exceptions. In this regard, atheists put the majority of Christians to shame.

Followers of the Newtonian persuasion have an unshakable faith that F=ma holds true in the past, now, in the future, here, on the moon, and at some point a trillion trillion miles away. It explains the exact trajectory of a feather floating in the wind, or a billion-ton galactic object speeding at a 1,000 miles a second.

Based on this blind belief, we commoners dare to board a plane, take a train, cross a bridge, enter a building, or lean against a wall, knowing that we will not be harmed. With the same faith that this portion of God's law will still hold true 200,000 miles away, we put two man in a tin can hurtling at 17,000 mph into the moon's atmosphere, applying additional calculations based on that same belief to slow it bit by bit to land at 5 feet per second. No one doubted for a moment that F=ma wouldn't work on the moon.

(If an accident happens, it is not because of some fault or misunderstanding of F=ma. It is because of some unexpected and unaccounted for new event. Accidents can only happen precisely because of the unwavering belief in F=ma.)

This faithful assurance is not based on speculative conjecture. It is based on the solid evidence of things not seen. No one has seen gravity, no one has seen mass, no one has seen energy. But through indirect observation, scientists gathered plenty of evidence of things not seen to verify their hypotheses, so much so that you and I willingly stake our lives on the presumption that the evidence holds true.

We were not born with this in-built faith. I am absolutely certain Noah wouldn't dare step across the Golden Gate Bridge. Moses wouldn't walk into a one-story building. They didn't know much about F=ma.

I am highlighting that science is faith-based not to belittle science but to celebrate it.

Every time I read or learn about how something was discovered or invented, I am simply floored by the genius of those scientists and inventors. Bohr could derive the atomic structure without the remotest visibility of what he was postulating. The inventors of the transistor could figure out exactly how electrons move in doped germanium without the opportunity ever to see electrons. Others can concoct a viral antidote to save your life without the benefit of first seeing the virus. Higgs cooked up his boson entirely from the evidence of things not seen.

From this point forward, I will not call the systematic way scientific discoveries are made scientific methods. It is just common sense that appeals to intuition.

We owed the comfort of our earthly existence today to the many talented human beings who put pure blind faith in the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Apart from their exceptional brilliance, they applied common sense.

Next: Scientific theories