Posts Tagged ‘ignorance’

Without ignorance there are no questions (or knowledge is always finite in an infinity of ignorance)

April 2, 2019

The natural laws are not amenable to change.

Our minds and our thoughts and our actions may distinguish us from inert rocks and lifeless blobs of matter, but they are just as impotent in effecting any change to the laws we perceive applying in the universe around us.

And because we have minds and thoughts, questions arise. It is an empirical observation that minds are finite and a reasonable conjecture that omniscience – and therefore determinism – cannot exist. If we were omniscient we would have no questions. Without questions the human condition would be one of stasis. Without questions there would be no room for philosophy. If we had no questions the process of science would be meaningless. Ignorance by itself does not give rise to questions. Ignorance together with an awareness of being ignorant is necessary, but even that is not sufficient. Questions will not arise in an ignorant mind, aware of its own ignorance, unless there is also a desire to reduce the level of prevailing ignorance. A rational motivation for such a desire would be the belief that reducing ignorance would lead to an “improved” state of existence for the desirous mind.

All of philosophy and all of language and mathematics and art and all of science then proceed from non-omniscient minds formulating questions. Ignorance it would seem is the primary driving force for human endeavor.

Ignorance is infinite. Ignorance begets questions. Questions – through the application of philosophy and art and science – beget answers. Answers increase knowledge which is finite. But answers also beget further questions and so on, ad infinitum.

When we get to the correct formulation of the ultimate question about life, the universe and everything for which the answer is 42, we shall reach omniscience. Then, the stars will go out and the universe will cease to exist.


 

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Without first having religions, atheism and agnosticism cannot exist

June 27, 2017

I take science to be the process by which areas of ignorance are explored, illuminated and then shifted into our space of knowledge. One can believe that the scientific method is powerful enough to answer all questions – eventually – by the use of our cognitive abilities. But it is nonsense to believe that science is, in itself, the answer to all questions. As the perimeter surrounding human knowledge increases, what we know that we don’t know, also increases. There is what we know and at the perimeter of what we know, lies what we don’t know. Beyond that lies the boundless space of ignorance where we don’t know what we don’t know.

Religions generally use a belief in the concept of a god (or gods) as their central tenet. By definition this is within the space of ignorance (which is where all belief lives). For some individuals the belief may be so strong that they claim it to be “personal knowledge” rather than a belief. It remains a belief though, since it cannot be proven. Buddhism takes a belief in gods to be unnecessary but – also within the space of ignorance – believes in rebirth (not reincarnation) and the “infinite” (nirvana). Atheism is just as much in the space of ignorance since it is based on the beliefs that no gods or deities or the supernatural do exist. Such beliefs can only come into being as a reaction to others having a belief in gods or deities or the supernatural. But denial of a non-belief cannot rationally be meaningful. If religions and their belief in gods or the supernatural did not first exist, atheism would be meaningless. Atheism merely replaces a belief in a God to a belief in a Not-God.

I take the blind worship of “science” also to be a religion in the space of ignorance. All physicists and cosmologists who believe in the Big Bang singularity, effectively believe in an incomprehensible and unexplainable Creation Event. Physicists who believe in dark matter or dark energy, as mysterious things, vested with just the right properties to bring their theories into compliance with observations of an apparently expanding universe, are effectively invoking magic. When modern physics claims that there are 57 fundamental particles but has no explanation as to why there should be just 57 (for now) or 59 or 107 fundamental particles, they take recourse to magical events at the beginning of time. Why there should be four fundamental forces in our universe (magnetism, gravitation, strong force and weak force), and not two or three or seven is also unknown and magical.

Agnosticism is just a reaction to the belief in gods. Whereas atheists deny the belief, agnostics merely state that such beliefs can neither be proved or disproved; that the existence of gods or the supernatural is unknowable. But by recognising limits to what humans can know, agnosticism inherently accepts that understanding the universe lies on a “higher” dimension than what human intelligence and cognitive abilities can cope with. That is tantamount to a belief in “magic” where “magic” covers all things that happen or exist but which we cannot explain. Where atheism denies the answers of others, agnosticism declines to address the questions.

The Big Bang singularity, God(s), Nirvana and the names of all the various deities are all merely labels for things we don’t know in the space of what we don’t know, that we don’t know. They are all labels for different kinds of magic.

I am not sure where that leaves me. I follow no religion. I believe in the scientific method as a process but find the “religion of science” too self-righteous and too glib about its own beliefs in the space of ignorance. I find atheism is mentally lazy and too negative. It is just a denial of the beliefs of others. It does not itself address the unanswerable questions. It merely tears down the unsatisfactory answers of others. Agnosticism is a cop-out. It satisfies itself by saying the questions are too hard for us to ever answer and it is not worthwhile to try.

I suppose I just believe in Magic – but that too is just a label in the space of ignorance.


 

Can a religious person be a “good” scientist?

May 28, 2015

Can a religious person be a “good” scientist?

I find this to be rather a simple question to address and one which does not need to be unnecessarily complexified*. I find diagrams simpler and more powerful than jargon which revels in its own complexity.

What is outside of knowledge – by definition –  is ignorance.

Beliefs – by definition – lie in the space of ignorance.

Faith and Religions lie in the space of beliefs, and

therefore within the space of ignorance.

Science is the rigorous process by which we reduce ignorance and gain knowledge.

knowledge in the space of ignorance

knowledge in the space of ignorance

Science is a process

Science is a process

Science is in conflict with religion only if the religion contains a belief which is falsified as science converts some ignorance to knowledge.

There is no reason why a religious person cannot be a “good” scientist except if he maintains a belief in a piece of ignorance which has been falsified.

A religious person who declines to subject some belief to the scientific process for conversion into knowledge can not be a scientist (let alone a “good” scientist) with regard to that piece of ignorance. But he could still be a scientist, and a “good” scientist in areas which are not impinged by his beliefs.


* I use complexify to mean “complicate unnecessarily”



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