Defining Terms

Scientific Theory

Several weeks ago, I was looking around the AnandTech forums and found a post that caused me to think. Basically it said that this guy’s high school teacher offered the class a 100 on their first test if someone “could find something [that] cannot be explained with science.” The point of the teacher asking the question was not to get the students an easy A, but to show them that there is nothing that can’t be explained by science.

I did spend some time thinking about this question, and I did post a reply, but that’s not what concerns me the most. What I am most concerned about is that a teacher is teaching a class of students that there is nothing that cannot be explained by science. A group of high school students is learning that science can answer all of their questions, and solve every problem. Maybe I was just blessed to have teachers that were good thinkers, or maybe my teachers were just older and wiser, but I have never had a teacher tell me this.

I remember on the first day of my Critical Thinking class in high school when the teacher told us that logic is a good tool, and can often help determine truth, but that it is not perfect. I remember on the first day of my Intelligent Data Analysis class in Germany last summer when the professor told us that it is a logical fallacy to use observations and patterns to predict future events. Both of these teachers had an understanding that the tools they used were flawed and limited, and one has to be careful how one uses them.

What will happen if there is a generation of adults that think that science can explain everything? What will it mean for society and the future if there is such a confidence in science and human reason that everyone will believe what I read once, “Think something’s impossible? Wait a while.” What will be the result if everyone thinks that science will eventually solve every problem and answer every question? I can’t imagine that it could be good.