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Back to Basics: Cosmology - A Science?


CoolATIGuy
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Maybe this will stir up *too much* debate, but I find it interesting...and not just limited to Cosmology. When scientific topics are brought into focus (Physics, Astronomy, Cosmology, Oceanography, etc.), shouldn't it also be brought into focus that *nothing* can be considered *truly* scientific that relates to pre-historic/first-matter creation? Science is based upon facts, and since man was not around to record the facts in pre-historic "time", then anything before man-made records cannot be considered a science, correct? Any religious belief (or lack of) (Christianity, Humanism, Darwinism, etc.) all require the same thing - faith. It does not take faith without physical perception (hearing, seeing, etc.) to believe that the earth rotates around the sun - we can see that. However, you cannot see, nor are there man-made records of matter being brought into existence, so it requires faith to have a beginning...

 

So, in an effort to quit the rambling (:)), let me end with the question, "Will true science allow for things that are pre-historic, such as the study of Cosmology?"

 

 

CoolATIGuy

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In cosmology, you can observe the Universe and interpret it, create theories, etc. Even though you weren't there when the Universe was formed, you can still take a guess at how it happened by looking at the Universe now. An example would be Cosmic Background Radiation; we can observe it and hypothesize how the Universe began using its data, even though we obviously weren't there. In religion, it's hard to observe something such as a god, which you can't observe...

 

But I can see what you're saying. It does require a bit of faith on the scientists, but keep in mind that all theories are scrutinized and criticized by many other people, and if they still hold up, then it must be a pretty strong theory.

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In cosmology, you can observe the Universe and interpret it, create theories, etc. Even though you weren't there when the Universe was formed, you can still take a guess at how it happened by looking at the Universe now. An example would be Cosmic Background Radiation; we can observe it and hypothesize how the Universe began using its data, even though we obviously weren't there. In religion, it's hard to observe something such as a god, which you can't observe...

 

Well, history is not observable (as of yet), only the effects of it. However, if those effects are skewed, because something in between then and now (relative) changed, then our view of history is also skewed. Chew on this: Science is like a pyramid. In Science, *all* constants are built upon other constants. Every single *truly* scientific theory is a block (some large and some small), all sitting on top of other blocks. If a scientific theory is not the right "shape, size, or material" (in terms of a block), then it is discarded, as the more reliable constants around it are firmer. However, this poses a problem. If one should trace the scientific pyramid allllll the way down to it's base contants, one would come to the logical conclusion that those must be based upon something....

 

It is at this point that faith enters. No matter what religious (or lack of) beliefs one would have, all *truly* scientific facts would have to be based upon some sort of faith at the beginning. To use evolution as an example, here are a few points (based on a physics book):

 

1. The Scientific Method doesn't apply to past events

2. The evolutionary Principles claim infallibility, which puts it outside of the scientific realm (scientific theories can be proved wrong, but never proved to be *absolutely and infallibly* right)

3. Evolution claims why the universe was formed, even though motives cannot be explained by *true* science

 

Also, Hypothosis' must be testable - is the creation of matter from nothing testable?

 

 

Hope my thoughts aren't too spread apart. :)

 

 

CoolATIGuy

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True enough, but at some point you have to make some assumptions and get on with life.

 

Skye,

 

So true! If one does not "make assumptions" (aka. have faith) in some sort of groundwork, one will get nowhere. My point exactly! But making those assumptions cannot be considered scientific, just because of one's lack of time, methods, or desire to research further (which very well may be no fault of their own, simply the facts of our physical world). So do you agree that there are some aspects that are currently considered "science", that maybe ought not to be labeled as such?

 

 

CoolATIGuy

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Science works under assumptions though. You cannot 'do science' unless, at the very least, you assume that empiricism is a proper means of enquiry. Also, you assume that the universe behaves as though it is following laws, if you know these laws and the starting conditions, then you can predict the outcome. But using these assumptions, we can say that an observation of one set of conditions can be used to work out a relationship which will hold for others. It doesn't matter if they are now, or in the future, or in the past. The same rules should apply.

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Cosmolgy is really a subject which needs more faith than facts. Well , today we can interpret a lot of things on the basis of modern physcis (particularely particle physics) about the universe but we still need more data to know how the universe begin, what its shape is (topology), how old it is ? etc You can say we know exactly how old it is on the basis of WMAP data but that alss invole many assumptions. So no result comes without assumption. Firstly I read somewhere (in nature ) that the topology of the universe is dodecahadron then Max Tegmark rejected it. After that a story published in the New Scintist that the topology of the universe is Horm shaped and so on.

 

What I think is that all theories are correct only up to the time when we do not evidences to rejects them.

 

Let me come on the issue that was raised here . we can not predict accurately because we were not there. This is not quite correct. As long as over laboratery physics is coorect and there is no preferred place in the universe we can study past accurately on the basis of signatures which past events leaves ,like CMBR.

 

So one can not doubt on the facts of past which were collected scientifically.

 

Reply me

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Science is based upon facts' date=' and since man was not around to record the facts in pre-historic "time", then anything before man-made records cannot be considered a science, correct?

[/quote']

 

Incorrect. We observe light that was emitted billions of years ago. We find fossiles that were buried millions of years ago. We find geological formations created by glaciers thousands of years ago.

 

These are all things we use to learn about the world around us. They are most certainly sciences, and thing before records are definately science.

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Science works under assumptions though. You cannot 'do science' unless, at the very least, you assume that empiricism is a proper means of enquiry. Also, you assume that the universe behaves as though it is following laws, if you know these laws and the starting conditions, then you can predict the outcome. But using these assumptions, we can say that an observation of one set of conditions can be used to work out a relationship which will hold for others. It doesn't matter if they are now, or in the future, or in the past. The same rules should apply.

 

Aha, that is true! You would think that the same rules *should* apply. However, what happens if something happened in the past that caused those rules to change?

 

 

What I think is that all theories are correct only up to the time when we do not evidences to rejects them.

 

So you think that if I say that you are not a human but a gelatinous blob of off-brand jello, then that is correct until proven otherwise? I should *hope* not! I believe that *no* theory is correct simply because there is not evidence as of a certain time reference against it.

 

 

As long as over laboratery physics is coorect and there is no preferred place in the universe we can study past accurately on the basis of signatures which past events leaves ,like CMBR.

 

 

To bring up my point again, what if past events were changed, such as higher radiation levels, or light (when brought into existence) had already reached every point of the universe, and then slowed down? (I'm not validating these theorims, simply using them as examples....)

 

 

CoolATIGuy

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Science is based upon facts, and since man was not around to record the facts in pre-historic "time", then anything before man-made records cannot be considered a science, correct?

 

The Scientific Method doesn't apply to past events

 

Yes it does. You can make inferences (hypothesis) about the origin of things based on the characteristics it presents. These hypothesis can be tested in various ways. For example (this is purely hypothetical, because I'm too tired to dig up a real example), an assumption is made based on some gathered evidence that the universe expanded rapidly in the first few seconds after the big bang. Based on our knowledge of physics and chemistry, we can infer that the presence of element {X} in the universe should be 3 times greater than element {Y} if the universe did in fact expand rapidly. Telescopes then meticulously record elements throughout the visible universe and verify that element {X} occurs 3 times more often than element {Y}.

 

Anytime we 'observe' an experiment or process, we are actually observing the results of a process which happened in the past. Granted, it may have been a few nanoseconds ago, but it is still the results of a past physical process. Whether it is a million years or a millsecond, the concept is the same.

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