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Author Topic:   Does science ask and answer "why" questions?
Taq
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Posts: 5049
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Member Rating: 4.9


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Message 222 of 353 (647980)
01-12-2012 12:35 PM
Reply to: Message 217 by Chuck77
01-12-2012 6:54 AM


So this is how you think science goes about answering the "why" questions?

Just off the top of my head, scientists could test for changes in brain chemistry such as increases in dopamine levels while eating bananas. They could also test for positive reinforcement as it correlates with dopamine levels. fMRI could also be used to map specific brain functions and further correlate the ingestion of bananas with feelings of euphoria or pleasure.

So how would you run similar experiments with the "God did it" explanation? You can't, can you. We can show how science can answer these why questions. However, it would appear that theology can not. All theology can do is indoctrinate people into a belief system where they think they have answers, but in reality they do not. What they have is beliefs. Beliefs and answers are two different things. Answers require knowledge. Beliefs are the antithesis of knowledge.

Theology is devoid of answers. The Emporer has no clothes.


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Taq
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Posts: 5049
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.9


(2)
Message 228 of 353 (648035)
01-12-2012 6:33 PM
Reply to: Message 225 by Catholic Scientist
01-12-2012 2:41 PM


Re: Context
I don't think that science should leave questions to religions to answer. My position is that there are certan kinds of questions, like 'why are we here', that science is not in the business of answering. Too, that religions do hand you answers to some of those question. That is all.

My position is that science does a fine job of explaining why we are here. Our own personal existence is explained quite well by biological reproduction. As Modulous mentions above, evolution does a great job of explaining why our species exists.

I have explained in previous posts my position on religions inventing purposes and intentions as it relates to nature. Perhaps a bridge hand will better illustrate what I am talking about (bridge is similar to spades or hearts if you are familiar with those card games). After you have been dealt a hand you could ask yourself why you were given those specific cards. But why would you? You could have received any one of millions of possible 13 card hands, each of them with an equal probability. You have the hand you have because that is the hand you got. It is that simple. There is no divine purpose or evil intention in the cards you received. It is simply one outcome of millions.

I think this does a good job of explaining nature, and by extension us. We are but one result out of trillions of possible results. Given the march of time, one outcome had to occur just as it was inevitable that you would have a 13 card bridge hand. Science does an excellent job of explaining why we are a possible outcome of that process, and in explaining the historical events that led to that outcome.

As to my larger worldview, I see a universe that is indifferent to our existence. The universe cares about our existence to the same extent that we care about the plight of a single bacterium stuck to the underside of a rock in the middle of nowhere. The purpose that does exist in our lives is the purpose we give it. Purpose is not an external or intrinsic property of the universe. Instead, it is nothing more than our hopes and dreams of how the universe should be.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 225 by Catholic Scientist, posted 01-12-2012 2:41 PM Catholic Scientist has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 238 by Catholic Scientist, posted 01-13-2012 3:03 PM Taq has responded

  
Taq
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Posts: 5049
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 233 of 353 (648135)
01-13-2012 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 229 by Chuck77
01-13-2012 2:32 AM


Monkeys aren't sitting around going "you know other monkey, I actually feel better now having eaten that banana". "Yeah other monkey, MEEE TOOO".

*giggles at Taq*

Another creationist who laughs at real science. Go figure.

quote:
Four components of addiction are analyzed. “Bingeing”, “withdrawal”, “craving” and cross-sensitization are each given operational definitions and demonstrated behaviorally with sugar bingeing as the reinforcer. These behaviors are then related to neurochemical changes in the brain that also occur with addictive drugs. Neural adaptations include changes in dopamine and opioid receptor binding, enkephalin mRNA expression and dopamine and acetylcholine release in the nucleus accumbens.
(Avena et al. 2009) emphasis mine

Edited by Taq, : No reason given.


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Taq
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Posts: 5049
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 239 of 353 (648179)
01-13-2012 3:36 PM
Reply to: Message 238 by Catholic Scientist
01-13-2012 3:03 PM


Re: Context
That's not what the question was asking for...

From my point of view, it is.

Yeah, that's fine. Nobody's saying the answers that religions provide are correct, or even meaningful.

This reminds me of Lucy jerking the football away just before Charlie Brown kicks it. When someone states that science is not capable of explaining the "higher purpose" of human existence do you think that they do not believe in a higher purpose or see nothing meaningful in this higher purpose?

We are told that this entire universe full of trillions of stars was made just for us, and that this creator has a purpose for us to fulfill during our lifetimes. We are told that we are extremely special, and have an immortal soul that needs saving. Should we really think that the same people who make these claims are saying that "eh, it isn't true and not that meaningful, but it's what I believe"?


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Taq
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Posts: 5049
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 328 of 353 (650443)
01-31-2012 11:01 AM
Reply to: Message 325 by xongsmith
01-31-2012 5:22 AM


Re: Whose Purpose Is Being Investigated?
Or won't there be - at least ultimately due to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle itself - a point at which this sort of fantasmagorical equipment cannot help you?

Even then, uncertainty can be expressed as a probability that is derived from first principles. Science does a wonderful job of explaining why nuclei decay, and the probability of a single nuclei decaying over a set time period. The fact that no one can predict which nuclei will decay next, or exactly when a given nuclei will decay, does not negate the explanation.

If there is a quantum-like feature of brain activity then science still does a fine job of explaining why we do one thing and not another just as science does a fine job of explaining why one nuclei decays and the other does not.


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Taq
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Posts: 5049
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 332 of 353 (650476)
01-31-2012 4:06 PM
Reply to: Message 330 by Catholic Scientist
01-31-2012 3:57 PM


Re: More Dualism..........
But to do that to test why Grandma X chose that particular tea, we'd have to have multiple Grandma X's, or put her in the exact same situations multiple times - which is impossible.

For a valid answer to the why question we only need to understand the fundamental aspects. To use an analogy, we can't go back in time and use modern radar and satellites to measure the causes of thunderstorms. However, detailed study of some thunderstorms allows us to answer questions of why thunderstorms occur, including those that we did not observe or measure.

The same for brain activity. Once we understand the general mechanics of decision making we have the answer to the why question in specific cases.


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Replies to this message:
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Taq
Member
Posts: 5049
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 343 of 353 (650542)
01-31-2012 6:33 PM
Reply to: Message 334 by Catholic Scientist
01-31-2012 4:35 PM


Re: More Dualism..........
Unless we're talking about purpose...

Purpose and mechanism are one in the same. What is the purpose of Grandma choosing tea over coffee? A fundamental knowledge of how the brain works can answer that question. It can be due to reinforced positive feedback from previous cups of coffee, caffeine addiction, etc.

The fundamental aspects of Grandma X's brain that lead to her decision making do not address the purpose for her picking that particular tea.

Why not?


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Taq
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Posts: 5049
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 344 of 353 (650543)
01-31-2012 6:39 PM
Reply to: Message 341 by Catholic Scientist
01-31-2012 5:50 PM


Re: More Dualism..........
Because a scientific investigation relies on running controlled experiments.

A properly controlled experiment may not be what you think it is. Controls are there so that you can trust the measurements you are making. For a brain scan, a control can be as simple as proper contrast within the imaging procedure.

The purpose relies on the idividual and you can't control that.

You don't need to control that anymore than you need to control the weather to understand how it works.


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