Sunday, June 21, 2015

Scientific Theories

Science is simple. Anyone can come up with a hypothesis. He then collects and presents data to prove his hypothesis. Subject to global peer review, if the data holds up, everyone agrees and the hypothesis becomes theory or law. We then can proceed to build things with this new law. There is no need for a Pope or Archibishop to police theories.

This simple approach has served humanity rather well. We owe all our daily comforts to it.

However, this approach also means that any scientific law can be torn down if new evidence disproves it. Newton was right, almost. When Einstein came along, Newton was found wrong. Fortunately Newton was wrong only at high speeds. Einstein's discoveries were timely before anyone was harmed in the flights to the moon.

This scientific approach is akin to the story of the blind men and the elephant. One thought an elephant was like a tree trunk. Another thought it was just a rope. Both were right, and they could prove it easily within their field of observation. Science works this way too. Scientists are blind to all that they cannot observe. So people can have their pet theories on how evolution if extrapolated backward would result in the origin of the universe from a big bang some billions of years ago. The current evidence looks good, but is incomplete. The blind men are still groping.

Related: The faith of science