You can only know things through science. This is one of the most common claims in our modern society. “Follow the science” and ” We must make assessments using science” are heard everywhere. But is this really true? Can we only know things through science?
A Self Defeating Argument
This is what’s know as a self defeating statement. In other words, the claim that is being made can’t even live up to its own standard. The claim that science is the only way to knowledge is not a scientific statement, it’s a philosophic statement. How do I know? Because the person making the claim did not produce the statement using the scientific method. Science didn’t tell them that science is the only way to knowledge. They didn’t go into a lab and run an experiment to come up with this claim.
The Limits Of Science
What is it that science can do? Lots of things! But science isn’t capable of answering certain types of questions. As stated in the short video below, there are many things science can’t explain. Logical and mathematical truths cannot be explained by science. Metaphysical truths cannot be proven by science. Beliefs about morality cannot be proven by science. And ideas about beauty and love also cannot be shown to be true by the scientific method.
Science Informs, But Can’t Make Our Decisions
In our current circumstances, science has become almost a daily topic in handling the pandemic. “We need to follow the science” is the mantra we have been living by. And make no mistake, science is going to play an invaluable role in bringing us through the COVID-19 crisis. But, there is only so much science can do for us.
Science gives us information, but it can’t make our decisions for us. Everyone wants things to be “safe” again. But what is “safe”? Safe for one person may not be safe for another. We are all looking at the exact same data, and are all coming to different conclusions on when it is safe for us to resume normal activities.
Science can tell us about infection rates, death rates and what happens to economies when they are shut down too long. But the one thing science can’t tell us is how much risk to accept. What is an acceptable death/infection rate at which we fully reopen our economy? This is not a scientific decision. It is a decision that will be made by humans, not a computer. And its a decision that science can’t give us the answers to.
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