Chalmers wrote a wonderful book entitled "What is this thing
called science?", a title we would like to use here as well.
Because, after all, what is this thing called science? It has
become more and more obvious that people have no inkling
anymore about what science is and what it isn't. Mostly people
think that if you are intelligent (had high marks at school)
and study something with state-of-the-art equipment or
methods, than this classifies you as a scientist.
But it isn't. That isn't (necessarily) science.
Even worse, society itself starts defining the science in that
way. Does anybody still see the difference between 'science'
and 'technology'? Between a PhD and an engineering degree?
Does anybody still care? Why should you care? Probably
you don't mind the idea of a 'rocket scientist' as the summum
of intelligence, even while nearly all rocket scientists were
rocket engineers instead; They developed and used technology
to put a man on the moon.
It gets even worse. Most universities join the game and
attribute PhD degrees to students of their engineering
departments. Ignoring the fact that these people receiving a Philosophical
Degree never had a single lecture on philosophy in their
entire life. It is as if you give a diploma of computer
engineering to somebody who learned how to cultivate potatoes,
just because computer engineering sounds sexier. That does not
This does not mean that Philosophy/Science is better (or
worse) or more difficult (or easier) than
Technology/Engineering, but that it should be very clear that
the two are very different indeed. Society will get into
trouble if it cannot make a clear distinction.
It gets even worse. Even the most prestigious universities
lose the path and start copying the ideas mandated by society.
We suspect that this is due to the fact that society ever more
requires 'efficiency' from the universities and thus
scientific subjects have to be 'useful' for society somehow.
Yet, this is the same as demanding that art should be useful.
How useful is Mondriaan's Red Blue and Yellow? How
useful is to know that stars go into supernovae? How useful is
scaling the channel length in transistors down to 25
The last example was to check if you were not falling asleep.
Indeed, the last item was technology again. In fact, one item
of science is that it has no (direct) use for society, while
the scaling down of transistors seems a very beneficial step
Yet, even one of the most prestigious universities in the
world has succumbed to the fashion of modern times and starts
adopting the politically-correct stance on science. Saying for
instance that Science is not battling Religion, as stipulated
by the United Nations, while the two are, and always have
been, clearly in an eternal battle.
Wasn't it Martin Luther who said "Reason is the biggest enemy
of faith"? Quite so. A scientist does not 'believe' or 'trust'
anything or anybody. Truth is not found by believing in
things, nor by repeating the common opinion, or by voting. The
latter is often done in society, "The consensus among
scientists is ...", etc. The religious stance (Don't study or
discuss at all. Believe!), the political stance (The majority
decides; by debating I'll make it my majority) and the
scientific stance (Search for the verifiable truth,
independent of social pressure or financial or political
interests). Science is Philosophy, philo-sophia, the love for
knowledge. Not philo-pecunia or philo-potentia, or
philo-iPhone, the love for money or power or gadgets.
Yet, The University of California at Berkeley, probably by the
need to get 'accepted' by society that pays for them, in its
description of science, writes that science involves a
'feedback' from society that has "Benefits and Outcomes". But,
pure science does not have benefits, nor outcomes or goals.
Did Galileo think about developing some application when he
argued that objects fall equally fast. Did Newton have in mind
some device to sell when he developed his Theory of Gravity?
No. Of course not. That would be like the engineer DaVinci.
Even Einstein commented, "Anyone who thinks science is trying
to make human life easier or more pleasant is utterly
Another serious error the author of those pages of Berkeley
makes is stating that science needs "Community Analysis and
Feedback". Or, in other words, you need to get some form of
approval from your scientific colleagues. In other words,
colleagues are going to decide on the validity of your ideas.
Indeed, this is how science works in 2013. Scientists have to
be part of a social network to get their ideas accepted.
Popularity is thus more important than correctness. To get
your paper accepted, you have to do a lot of diplomacy, and
actually, this is more important than the scientific part.
Yet, history has shown that all major scientific breakthroughs
came against the then generally accepted ideas. Social
networks tend to only repeat what is already 'known' and makes
science into a political popularity "truth by ballot" system.
That, while all science breakthroughs were done by 'loners'.
Yet, the biggest error the authors make is trying to placate
the religious sentiments in our society. They write that it is
a misconception that science contradicts the existence of
God. Yet, science does contradict the existence of
The logic behind
it is quite simple and has three simple steps:
1) According to
scientific method, the best model is the one that explains
things with the minimum number of ingredients (William of
Ockam*). If something is not needed to explain the world,
then remove it from the model. God is not needed to explain
the world, so God does not exist.
Also, Einstein: "The aim of science is, on the one hand, as
complete a comprehension as possible of the connection
between perceptible experiences in their totality, and, on
the other hand, the achievement of this aim by employing a
minimum of primary concepts and relations."
2) If a god is
needed to explain a creation of a system as complex as our
universe, if a creator is needed, then the unavoidable
question is: Who created the Creator? (If the answer is "has
always existed", then this can also be true for the universe
and we revert to observation (1)) [age-old discussion of the
3) Goedel has
mathematically shown that no system can be self-complete.
This is a mathematical proof/equivalent of (2). There are a
lot of people that think that Darwin's theory goes against
religion, but it doesn't. God might have created evolution.
However, Goedel's ideas do go against religion, since God
cannot include Himself. "Can God create a stone so heavy it
cannot lift Himself?"
Science is pure
and only assumes things that are consistent with
measurements (reality) and that are necessary to
explain reality. Sometimes it is suggested that, in the
scientific method, something is correct until proven wrong.
Ergo, since science cannot proof the non-existence
of a god, the model of an existing god is correct and thus
That is not how it works. We could for instance also say
that the back of the moon is green, and since you have no
proof to the contrary, our idea is correct until you prove
us wrong. That is not how it works! We start with a simpler
model, that the back of the moon is the same color as the
front that we can easily see and measure, until some piece
of evidence/data forces us to think otherwise.
You can be agnostic
and a scientist. No problem. Actually being open minded is
the best, because it happens too often that people are
sticking to their model (beliefs) in spite of evidence.
("Trust your model; facts can be disposed of"). Yet, open
minded is not the same as assuming true everything that you
cannot prove wrong.
Now apply this to the concept of a god. Do we need a god to
explain the world? No. Therefore there is no god in
a scientific point of view. Until you find some
piece of evidence for it. Just like the back of the moon is
the same color as the front of the moon until it is shown
that the universe is more complicated and has a two-color
can still believe in a god (that is a human right),
but they can't hide behind science. There also is no
obligation to adhere to the scientific method, everybody can
decide to think otherwise and not be a scientist, just as we
can decide to be not a member of religion X. Somebody can be
religious and still be a great and intelligent
investigator/researcher, for instance working in technology,
and even disagree with the above, but cannot deny that
science is for the moment contradicting the existence of a
god. That would namely imply saying that "science is a great
tool, but only for things that fall outside the set of
things I believe in", as if you can be a part-time scientist
or that there are things you are not allowed to discuss.
Believing there is no god is just as silly as
believing there is one.
This point of view, obviously, will not fall well in a society
that wants to please everybody, and demands
politically-correct tolerance for all ideas (except, of
course, the idea of intolerance; showing Goedel right yet
again). Entities making such statements as presented here will
be cut off funding. Well, if that is the case, ... so be it.
All for the love of knowledge! Philo-sophia.