Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St Louis, Missouri. It’s titled Scientific measurement is not only criteria for truth. The newspaper has a comments feature, with only one comment so far.
Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Jack. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
If something is measurable, and the results of making measurements are identical at all times, everywhere, under all conditions, we may have an absolute scientific truth.
Jack is probably thinking of a scientific law, but let’s find out where he’s going with this. He says:
However, our religious beliefs are not measurable, nor are our philosophical ideas measurable. However, we all know that despite what most scientists claim, measurement is not the only criteria for truth. The unique ability of humans to conceive ideas have resulted in many ideas that are true, though they cannot be measured.
It seems that Jack is starting off with a serious confusion of terms. A philosophical or religious “truth” is totally unlike a scientific law. Let’s read on:
Both scientists and theologians have reached conclusions that were subsequently proven incorrect. Sometimes scientists reach erroneous conclusions from their measurements, and the belief of theologians is proven false. These include conclusions that the Earth was flat, that the Earth was at the center of the universe, that heavier objects fell quicker than lighter ones, and that the atom was indestructible.
We have more confusion here. Flat-Earth, the geocentric universe, and Aristotle’s assertion that heavy objects fall faster than light ones weren’t “scientific” conclusions — they were crude, pre-scientific guesses, some of which found their way into scripture. But it’s also true that some scientific ideas are proven to be wrong. What’s Jack’s point? He continues:
Scientists believe that creation originated with a big bang, and they have spent billions of dollars trying to prove this. Theologians believe that if there was a big bang, it was caused by God.
Billions have been spent trying to prove the Big Bang? We doubt it. But there’s a lot of evidence that it happened. On the other hand, there’s zero evidence that it was caused by a deity. Again we ask: What’s Jack’s point? He’d better get to it quickly, because there’s not much left of his letter. Here’s more:
Some scientists, including Albert Einstein, who spent the last 20 year of his life searching for a Theory of Everything and failed to find it, agree with the theologians.
Einstein agreed with the theologians? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! This is the rest of Jack’s letter:
Reporters and editors should perform the required research to properly present a complete story to their readers.
We never did figure out what Jack was trying to say, but his last sentence is good advice. He should follow it himself.
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