World Views

by Frank on September 3, 2013

I saw an Asimov quote yesterday: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny…””

Not only is it a brilliant exposition of something fundamental about science, but it completely explains why,to a certain faction, science and religion are fundamentally incompatible.There are people in this world who cannot live without certainty. They must know the one true way. I don’t get it but they seem to have taken over the Republican Party.

The one thing that science will never provide is certainty. It’s always possible that some new fact will show up tomorrow and change everything. If there’s anything solid, it’s the second law of thermodynamics, which basically says “you can’t get something for nothing.”

Except that Nikolai Tesla, one of the greatest engineers in history, thought you could. Of course, he was also batshit insane. Then again, there are some very smart people out there now who think that there must be some way to grab the zero point energy.

Some years ago, I encountered the Calvinist concept of “presuppositionism.” Basically that you must postulate some things or the world does not work. Unsurprisingly, in the Calvinist context it was God creating the universe. I didn’t, and don’t get it. Why can’t you just look around and see what is?

I put some work into figuring this out, and finally found an honest man. He is a presupposionist because he simply cannot face the idea of a ‘contingent’ universe, one where things just happen. Dude, we have a problem. “And yet it moves.”