Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Are the Faithful Crowing About the CERN "Faster than Light" Story?

From MSNBC: "The CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso experiment sends muon neutrinos through a tunnel at the French-Swiss border in the direction of a detector in Italy, more than 450 miles away."

The story is here.

I've seen a few posts from the religious and anti-science folk (here and here, for instance). They seem to be dancing at the possibility that Einstein/relativity was wrong.

To me, such celebration is wildly inappropriate. However "wrong"--is this word even applicable?--Einstein/relativity may be, the idea of a creator and personal god is not likely to be strengthened by improved knowledge of the physical universe.

Isn't such a potentially major updating of our understanding an indication that science is not rigid and dogmatic, as religious doctrine tends to be?

Finally, doesn't the story demonstrate that we gain new knowledge not from religion but from the sciences?

The news is certainly eye-popping and interesting, but I'll wait until independent observers have duplicated the findings before getting too excited.


  1. Anonymous3:02 PM

    " doesn't the story demonstrate that we gain new knowledge not from religion but from the sciences?"

    No. That demostrates that all scientifical knowlwdge is provisional and limited to the assumptions of science.

  2. As opposed to the eternal wisdom and objective assumptions of religious doctrine, I suppose.

    LOL, I say, LOL

  3. The main point of the writer at Uncommon Descent seems to be to draw a contrast between how physics works and how evolutionary biology works. He is saying in effect: "See, physicists will seriously consider evidence that even the most fundamental theory of their discipline is mistaken. Evolutionary biologists, by contrast, are so dogmatically wedded to their theory that they make it the basis on which they describe the facts of nature."

    It is much more difficult to make out the point of the one who calls himself "Jewish Philosopher." He seems to have two of them: (1) "Oh, look, a physicist admits the possibility that the fundamental theory of modern physics is wrong! This reminds us that science is completely untrustworthy!" (2) "Since the most basic theory in physics can be called into question, how much more misplaced is the trust that atheists put in the theory of evolution!"

  4. @ The genius hiding behind the mask of anonymity who said:

    "No. That demostrates that all scientifical knowlwdge is provisional and limited to the assumptions of science."

    Wrong and wrong.

    What it shows is that all knowledge is provisional until a solid justification can merit something more concrete--such as trust in the truth of factual evidence gained from real observation and testing--and the only tool we have of doing that with any accuracy is science.

    Science makes no assumptions, mind you. You might be confusing general theories, or hypothesis, with formal scientific theories. But a working theory and a basic assumption are two very different things.

  5. Anonymous10:25 AM

    "Science makes no assumptions"

    Show me a scientific factual evidence that 2 + 2 = 4.

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  7. Anonymous said:

    "Show me a scientific factual evidence that 2 + 2 = 4."


    2 + 2 = 4 is a logical proof. It utilizes the rational faculties of the brain.

    Science, on the other hand, is a methodology for testing evidence.

    Let me try an explain this to you as simply as I can.

    Logic = rational tool for understanding.

    Science = pragmatic tool for testing evidence.

    These are not the same things.

    So your assumption that science is somehow responsible for giving us knowledge is wrong.

    Science is how we test the knowledge we have to see if it is trustworthy. It's a form of validating evidence.

    That's why no assumptions need be made. Now, formal scientific theories do make assumptions. But as I explained earlier, you have to be mindful not to confuse science (the methodology) with a scientific theory. They are also different things.

    A scientific theory is hypothesis in which a premise, a principle, supposition, or proposed explanation is made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation--and which relies on science for either confirmation or falsification of that hypothesis.

    FYI: Whereas science is concerned with the validity of evidence, logic is concerned with the validity of various types of rationale/beliefs.

    If something holds to be logically sound, then it becomes a formal proof. Even so, it still could be falsified, or merely theoretical, so should be considered provisional for these reasons.

    As long as the logic is sound, however, then science is able to apply the proof as a form of empirical support for helping to further along a hypothesis or else falsify one as counterfactual.


Feel free to comment if you have something substantial and substantiated to say.