Science: belief or truth



Any sound scientific theory, whether of time or of any other concept, should in my opinion be based on the most workable philosophy of science: the positivist approach put forward by Karl Popper and others. According to this way of thinking, a scientific theory is a mathematical model that describes and codifies the observations we make. A good theory will describe a large range of phenomena on the basis of a few simple postulates and will make definite predictions that can be tested… If one takes the positivist position, as I do, one cannot say what time actually is. All one can do is describe what has been found to be a very good mathematical model for time and say what predictions it makes.

– Stephen Hawking (The Universe in a Nutshell)


Science is not, indeed, a perfect instrument, but it is a superior and indispensable one that works harm only when taken as an end in itself. Scientific method must serve; it errs when it usurps a throne. It must be ready to serve all branches of science, because each, by reason of its insufficiency, has need of support from the others. Science is the tool of the Western mind and with it more doors can be opened than with bare hands. It is part and parcel of our knowledge and obscures our insight only when it holds that the understanding given by it is the only kind there is. The East has taught us another, wider, more profound, and higher understanding, that is, understanding through life. … An ancient adept has said: “If the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.” In reality, in such matters everything depends on the man and little or nothing on the method. For the method is merely the path, the direction taken by a man. The way a man acts is the true expression of his nature.

– Carl Gustav Jung (Commentary of The Secret of the Golden Flower)


I cultivate the excellent habit of rationality and consider it as a very useful tool. But rationality is indeed a tool (a useful means to achieve a desired result), and not an end in itself. Far from being the enemies of science, religion and spirituality often drive scientific advances. Open-minded soft rationality is a much better approach to science than dull, fundamentalist rationalism. … In history, there are countless examples of rational scientists who demonstrate the impossibility of doing something… and irrational engineers who do it anyway. Scientists worship rationality and the current scientific paradigm, but engineers want to realize their dreams, the current scientific paradigm be damned if it stands in the way. Often, facts prove that the irrational engineers are right, and soon the rational scientists realize that they had just made one or two little mistakes here and there in their papers.

– Giulio Prisco (In Praise of Soft Rationality and Rational Spirituality)