Examples of the Limits of Science


#1

Greetings of Christian Love, Mercy and Peace!

Could someone please point me to a web site or page with a list of examples of matters that are unprovable by Science but still ought to be believed (often unwarily and for granted) to show someone who believes only those matters provable by Science are true? How about a list of those matters that are unprovable by Science but are necessarily held to do Science?

Thank you already.


#2

Science does not “prove” but can only “disprove.”

Mathematics and logic “prove” things but science works with evidence, best explanations, and probability.

Read this on scientific evidence, method, and proof

BTW, Stanley Jaki, the Catholic priest-physicist, has compiled a series of essays on The Limits of a Limitless Science you might want to get.

Phil P


#3

Hello, you might find this interesting. It disproves evolution:

tldm.org/News8/evolutionAntiScience.htm

Regards,
Noel.


#4

scientific and mathematical “proofs” are built upon premises, and for the proof to be valid the founding premises must be valid. Scientific research is continually adjusting those premises as they discover new truths about the workings of the universe and the natural world, so their defined truths continually change.

Science does very well what is within its limits, discover, observe, record and make deductions about the workings of the created universe. Science has no competence to make deductions about the Divinity or spiritual realm, nor should it attempt to go being its purpose. Our knowledge of the Divinity comes only through Divine Revelation itself. There can be no contradiction between Science and Religion, because both deal with establishing Truth, of which God Himself is the Author.

Science goes wrong when it fails to operate by its own rules and methods in establishing the validity of the initial premises from which its deductions and theories arise, or when it steps outside its realm of competence. Examples: the research of Kinsey violated every norm of the scientific method, and yet has been accepted uncritically by the same community that fails to consider research suggesting the risks and dangers associated with ABC, abortion and surgical sterilizations.
Example: the theory of evolution is fine when it sticks to the original findings of its author about adaptation of species, but fails when it attempts to address the origins of the universe and makes unproven assertions about the origin of species without establishing – through the scientific method of empirical observation and deduction from actual evidence – the validity of its initial premises. it further errs when it attempts to make observations or categorical assertions about the Deity or Divine Revelation.


#5

A classic example of the limits of science, and an example of a conflict between the Church and science is the idea of geocentrism.

The Church has taught that the earth does not move, and the sun and stars move around it. The ancient Greeks proposed a heliocentric theory, which the early Church Fathers contested based on Scriptural interpretation.

Centuries later, Corpenicus proposed a heliocentric theory, which he felt would simplify the cosmology of Ptolemy. He sold it to a Pope as a more efficient way to describe the motions of planets as part of a program to improve the calendar. In fact, Corpenicus’ heliocentric model required 90 more epicycles than Ptolemies to gain the same accuracy!

Galileo picked up Corpenicus model and proclaimed basically that Scripture was wrong, the earth orbited the sun, and the sun was the center of the universe. Three Popes ended up condeming the writings of Corpenicus and Galileo. If Corpenicus’ writings and Galileo treated their theories as a theory, and not as proven reality, the Church would have stayed out of it. Finally, after the editors of Corpenicus’ works removed the few sentences that proclaimed heliocentrism to be more than a theory from his works, the works were removed from the index. The proclamations were never rescinded.

Today, heliocentrism is rejected, as is geocentrism, all in favor of acentrism. No one knows if there is a center to the universe, scientifically. Equally factual, No one has proven to date that the earth rotates or translates! I.e., geocentrism has by no means been disproven. Acentrism is more philosophical than scientific. The theory of General Relativity operates under the assertion that one can pick any center to describe the universe. A postulate of the theory is that there are no preferred reference frames (i.e., any center will do). This is how General Relativity is formulated.

All observation we make in the universe is of relative motion. We see the sun and stars rotating around us, but mathematically, equally probable is that the earth turns (the current OPINION). Foucalt’s pendulum, Sagnac effect, light gyroscopes, etc. can detect rotation, but cannot distinguish between rotation of the earth and rotation of the universe.

The interesting predicament is that though science strongly disagrees with geocentrism, it has not been able to disprove it.

Some interesting quotes:

Cosmologist George Ellis in Scientific American

“People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations,” Ellis argues. “For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations.” Ellis has published a paper on this. “You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”

As stated by Max Born in his famous book,“Einstein’s Theory of Relativity”,Dover Publications,1962, pgs 344 & 345

:"…Thus we may return to Ptolemy’s point of view of a ‘motionless earth’…One has to show that the transformed metric can be regarded as produced according to Einstein’s field equations, by distant rotating masses. This has been done by Thirring. He calculated a field due to a rotating, hollow, thick-walled sphere and proved that inside the cavity it behaved as though there were centrifugal and other inertial forces usually attributed to absolute space.

Thus from Einstein’s point of view, Ptolemy and Corpenicus are equally right."

Mark
veritas-catholic.blogspot.com


#6

[quote=nkelly]Hello, you might find this interesting. It disproves evolution:

tldm.org/News8/evolutionAntiScience.htm

Regards,
Noel.
[/quote]

Unfortunately, that is a biased article with not much to stand on, just a lot of hot air if you ask me, there are plenty of other credible sites which testify to creation( which i believe, btw).

The bottom of the page provides a link to the amazing bayside prophecies, we still havent had acceptance from Rome on their validity so i would take anything said on the site with a pinch of salt.


#7

I don’t have a web site to offer, but I do have one example:
Science cannot prove love exists, but most people do believe that love exists. Science could prove that a mother has a child, but it cannot prove that she loves her child. All it could do is (a) make observations about the mother’s actions and (b) monitor the chemical/hormonal signals the mother is receiving. It could not conclude that she loved her child; in fact, it could quite plausibly conclude that a mother only cares for her child in response to an instinctual drive to perpetuate her genes. In spite of science’s inability to prove love (in parent-child relationships or in any relationship), most people still do believe in love.


#8

[quote=preyoflove]Greetings of Christian Love, Mercy and Peace!

Could someone please point me to a web site or page with a list of examples of matters that are unprovable by Science but still ought to be believed (often unwarily and for granted) to show someone who believes only those matters provable by Science are true? How about a list of those matters that are unprovable by Science but are necessarily held to do Science?

Thank you already.
[/quote]

Prey of Love,

It’s not science, but I’d like to point you towards Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem in mathematics. This theorem states that in any sufficiently powerful mathematical system there are statements that cannot be proven either true or false. An example of this in common English is “This statement is false,” which if true proves itself false and if false proves itself true.

There was a very amusing dialogue written by Lewis Carroll a century and a half ago (“What the Tortoise Said to Achilles”) which also touches on the subject. It deals with the rule of logic: you have to assume that logic is valid, or else all reasoning stops. The characters in the dialogue wound up with something along the lines of:

Rule 1: "If ___ is true, then _____ is true."
Rule 2: Rule 1 is valid.
Rule 3: Rule 2 is valid.
Rule 4: Rule 3 is valid.

  • Liberian

#9

Just a comment here, as I do not have any websites like you are asking for. I do not believe that Science, itself, is limited, but rather, our human interpretations are limited, and thus we fail to discover things that are there, but we cannot grasp them. Surely, penicillin was always right under our noses, but it’s discovery was only made when the right person was able to understand how it worked.
Human interpretations have also led the proud down a silly trail, allowing for foolish deductions from their data. For example, for years, the foremost scientist being quoted regarding the universe was the atheist, Carl Sagan. Science then got a bad rap because he used it to “disprove” the existence of God. Then the same folks at PBS who were touting Sagan replaced him (he died) with Steven Hawking, who interprets his data as proof of God! Others, I know, have done the same, and I think that it is only our misuse and misinterpretation of science that gets us into trouble.


#10

I Serve,

I will agree with you wholeheartedly that faulty interpretations of the data–not to mention incomplete data–will certainly lead people astray, even about scientific matters. But I will repeat that science itself has its limits. For example, science cannot explain the miracle of the sun at Fatima; it is something that simply happened. Science cannot explain the Resurrection either. Science deals with repeatable phenomena and with explaining historical events (eclipses, earthquakes, volcanic formations) based on what it has learned from these repeatable phenomena. The miraculous is simply outside the scope of science, and so science is limited in this respect.

  • Liberian

#11

This is true. Science is methodologically naturalistic. That is, it can only speak of the physical universe, and can neither deny nor confirm anything in the supernatural.

Science can’t approach God. Fortunately, scientists can.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.