News
The Power Of Light Works
July 2019
LightSail 2 is changing its orbit using only the power of sunlight. The Planetary Society announced this week that their LightSail 2 solar sail is working well, and actually raising the orbit of the spacecraft as it travels around the Earth. According to mission managers, they've been able to raise the orbit of the spacecraft by about 2 kilometers at the high point of its orbit. Unfortunately, they'll only be able to go for about a month before the sail dips into the atmosphere at the low point of its orbit and it crashes.
Sci-Fi Writers Include Religion
October 2018
At his appearance at the American Writers Museum in Chicago, John Scalzi said that it is important that science fiction writers include religion in their universes, "When 5 billion people out of 7 billion very strongly have professed religious belief of some sort or another, to ignore it, minimize it or just say it doesn't matter is foolish," he said.
Science & Scientific Methodology
James C. Rocks
Science
Science is a methodology and any interpretations based with the scientific knowledge base should be necessarily derived from properly derived data. By "scientifically derived" I refer to the characteristics of science which were necessarily established during the US legal trial, McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 1996:

  • Guided by natural law.
  • Explanatory by reference to nature law.
  • Testable against the empirical world.
  • Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word.
  • Falsifiable.

"Science" which begins with an unshakeable assumption, is not true science. True science is about having no assumptions until they have been accepted through the application of evidence and have demonstrated resilience to genuine falsifiability experiments. Though "creation science" was once the predominant "scientific" theory it was outmoded in geological terms in the early 1800's, in natural history terms in the mid-1800's and in genetic terms in the late 1800', early 1900's. The evidence against "scientific creationism" is now so huge that it is no longer considered to be an adequate hypothesis (and even 'hypothesis' is an inadequate term for creationism in this day & age) to explain the nature of the universe as it is understood today.

Science & Scientific Methodology A scientific theory is not a guess or an approximation but an extensive explanation developed from well-documented and reproducible sets of data derived from experiments, which repeatedly observe natural processes. From such data, models are developed and it is important to note that these models (and their subsequent outcomes) are not decided in advance but can be modified and improved as new empirical evidence is uncovered. Science is constantly subject to peer-review and is a self-correcting attempt to understand nature and the observable universe. Science is not teleological that is to say theories do not start with a conclusion, refuse to change and acknowledge only data that the initial conclusion supports. Further, science does not base theories on untestable collections of dogmatic, mythical or mystical proposals but is characterised by questions, hypothetical proposals, design of empirical models and conceptual frameworks with the aim of researching natural events.

Those who claim that science and naturalism are two variants are mistaken; science is the study of the natural universe turning to the natural universe for the explanation. Science and naturalism are one and the same.

The scientific method relies upon two phases, those of observation and hypothesis or theory. Hypotheses and theories are slightly different but in principle a hypothesis must be verifiable or repeatable, falsifiable and it must only use as accepted facts theories which have yet to be found flawed. All hypotheses are under "attack" and may be removed from understood science in one of two ways ... an observation may be made which does not fit the hypothesis forcing modification or a new experiment may be devised that proves the hypothesis to be false.

Natural Law
Natural law is central to science. Natural laws are broad generalisations, essentially descriptions, of the way nature has been repeatedly observed to operate. If a phenomenon depends on supernatural intervention, then it is not relying on natural laws, and it is not explanatory by reference to natural law. (Overton, 1982)

Falsifiability
Another essential characteristic of science is the requirement that a scientific theory be falsifiable, that it be testable and most scientific theories have some trouble with this criterion. Historically based theories such as evolution cannot turn history back so we can view it directly but in that it is no different from many other forms of science ... in fact no one can literally look directly back to any time prior to their own lifetimes so what are we to do? Would critics of science have us assume that everything before our own time is untrue?

Verifiability
Once a hypothesis has been tested through experiment and/or prediction it must be possible for other experimenters to repeat those self-same experiments. That verification may employ the same experimental techniques or different ones but it must be possible.

Tentativeness
Scientists often say there are no facts, that is to say that nothing is "set in stone" in science, although being human, scientists are often reluctant to give up long-standing theories. From this (and verification) it can be seen that science is self-correcting. If a given hypothesis or theory does not fit the available evidence it is modified or it is discarded to be replaced with one that better fits the observations ... it really is that simple.

Scientific laws are generalised descriptions of an ideal or isolated systems behaviour and will seldom, if ever, occur exactly as predicted in the real world because the only truly naturally occurring, isolated system is the universe itself.

Within science many things are not directly observable. No scientist is able to see within the heart of a star or planet, no one has directly observed "black-holes", dinosaurs, gravity or sub-atomic molecules but much data is available concerning these objects and few scientists doubt the validity of such findings. Singularities or "black holes" are not directly visible but scientists searching for explanations of the beginning of our universe hypothesised their existence and the effects that would be caused by such bodies and several such bodies were later identified.

Whilst it may not always be possible to demonstrate how something happened in much of science it is often possible to demonstrate how something could have happened. Having demonstrated how something could happen that hypothesis can be used to predict other events and thus confirm or deny their own validity.

At the root of any theory or scientifically derived conclusion there should be a reasonable interpretation of scientifically derived data that means that data that was acquired non-scientifically can be disqualified. Hypotheses do not necessarily require such supporting evidence because hypotheses are essentially unproven assumptions. Nevertheless, hypotheses have significant value in that they can form the framework for further research and may, one day, evolve into theories.

Conclusion
Many individuals are under the mistaken apprehension that to carry out science it is necessary conduct experiments ... this is a vastly over-simplified view. Science requires that a hypothesis or model is formulated and that that is then tested against observations to determine its validity. Experiments are just one method of generating the observations that the validation of a given hypothesis requires. Stars & volcanoes have never been built in laboratories but science nevertheless knows a great deal about such objects.

Claims that science in any way opposes the inspired word of a given religions god or that it is not qualified to investigate a given subject are illogical and irrelevant to science & to rational investigation. Although there is value to be found in the various popular belief systems (religion, myth & fairy tale) that value is largely cultural and of particular interest to those studying similarities between various races.

As for claims that science or theories and disciplines within science are simply religions in themselves, whilst it must be admitted that some individuals do follow science in such a manner, science neither requests nor requires faith in any measure.

References
  • "The Talk.Origins Archive Feedback: August 1999", Kenneth Fair
  • "The Talk.Origins Archive Feedback: July 1997", John Wilkins
  • "Information For All Biologists", Dr. Morden
  • "Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism", Kitcher (1982)
  • National Center for Science Education 1999

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Organised religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business.
Jesse Ventura