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13.8.02

(yeah, lots of posts today. I'll just quote the good part of this article, "commonplace blog"-style)

Philosophy Is Essential To The Intelligent Design Debate

But there is no reason to think that "truth" plays a major role in this discussion. Science constantly produces new theories and discoveries that are powerful, useful, and enlightening. But does that imply we are approaching "the truth"? Alas, no--although many scientists would like to think so.

Given the continuing success of science, this limitation is not an easy idea to grasp, especially for scientists. To better understand it, compare the progress of science with that of biological evolution itself. Organisms evolve; new ones emerge from the old, which results in the impressive array of living systems around us that are, for the most part, wonderfully adapted to their present environments. Does this mean that the process of evolution was directed toward a goal? That the present living forms were preordained in the primeval soup? Of course not. The life forms that exist now just happen to be the ones that arose from a vast number of initial possibilities.

Likewise, scientific theories evolve according to how well they answer, at any given time in history, the immediate questions of interest to scientists. As a result, the present impressive array of theories has developed to satisfactorily answer the questions that interest us now. But that does not mean that science is goal-directed and thus progressing toward the "truth." The present theories were not predetermined to be discovered, any more than the first amphibians that crawled out of the oceans many years ago had the concept of humans encoded for future emergence. Science works--and works exceedingly well--because of its naturalistic approach, predictive nature, and methods of operation. To be valid, science does not have to be true.

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