archive: SETI Re: Sagan: FW: [ASTRO] The sentencing of Galileo and the Big Bang

SETI Re: Sagan: FW: [ASTRO] The sentencing of Galileo and the Big Bang

Don Flood ( )
Tue, 15 Sep 1998 09:35 -0500 (CDT)

I suppose that Bill's conclusion is dependent on the meaning of "Truth".
For instance, if the current methods of radioactive dating are accurate,
the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. In my opinion, this is an absolute
fact, a conviction that I hold about a number of other scientific theories.
Just because Science (nor any other system of thought, especially organized
religion) can provide "absolute" proof about something does not at require
that we become "relativists" about everything. Some theories (such as
Evolution, the fundamental structure of DNA, most of quantum mechanics, the
Big Bang, etc.) have so much compelling theoretical and experimental
evidence to support them, that we must conclude that they are "true" in a
fundamental sense. It is much easier to believe that we live in a unique
period in history where Science has uncovered fundamental truths and facts
about our Universe that it is to believe that Science is nothing more than
an endless quest at toppling and replacing one scientific theory with
another, in some endless cycle of infinite approximation to scientific
"truth". In short, the modern quantum theory of the atom, the theory of
Evolution, the Big Bang theory, etc., will be as true a million or billion
years from now as they are today. The current theoretical and experimental
evidence for these theories is so overwhelming and conclusive that we can
be assured that the core theoretical concepts will *never* be overturned.

Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 11:10 -0500 (CDT)
From: Larry Klaes <>
To: "'CS'" <>,
"'ST'" <>
Sender: carlsagan-owner <>
Reply-To: "Carl Sagan List" <>
Subject: Sagan: FW: [ASTRO] The sentencing of Galileo and the Big Bang

From: Bill Arnett
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 1998 11:19 PM
Subject: RE: [ASTRO] The sentencing of Galileo and the Big Bang

At 11:53 PM -0700 9/10/98, Steve wrote:

>Just because you can't think of anything better, does that make the
>original model right? I don't think so.

Science isn't about finding the Truth. It is about making models and
showing that they are WRONG and then coming up with better models. At any time, we usually have one model that
best fits the data. (Sometimes there
are two or more more or less equally good models but that is relatively
rare and certainly not the case with the Big Bang.) That is all we can do.
Anyone who tells you that he has found the ultimate and final truth is
selling religion, not science.

Of course, sometimes was have zero models that fit all the data. That
occurs when the current best is found to be wrong by virtue of some new
data. This is the goal of most experiments, to falsify the hypothesis.
When that happens it is usually possible to fix up the original theory to
match the new data. But sometimes, someone gets a bright idea for a whole
new model and a scientific revolution is born.

But just because you don't like the current best model doesn't make it
false. You have to come up with some evidence, some data, some observation that is contrary to the hypothesis.
Until that happens, you've
gotta go with what works.

---Bill Arnett                             "Science is a way of tryingEmerald Hills, CA  USA            not to fool yourself."      --                              <URL:>

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