Now, perhaps, we're getting somewhere. OK:Originally Posted by Simon W. Moon
There is no hypothesis that can be tested without certain assumptions in place. Those assumptions usually form parts of other theories, which were themselves tested with yet other assumptions in place. Rinse and repeat, ad nauseum. This really does seem to be a problem for you, because it means that all hypotheses are on equal footing; what determines whether we deem one hypothesis scientific and another not are the assumptions we accept. But at some point in the analysis, our acceptance of assumptions becomes arbitrary.Originally Posted by Simon W. Moon
That said, I don't think all is quite lost for the point behind your assertion. What is really implied, however, is that science builds to a certain point, until it can no longer do so. Then the structure must be unbuilt, and rebuilt in a different manner. I think this is actually the great virtue of science, that it's capable of such a process. However, human beings, far too often ignorant of the history of science, tend to place a lot more faith in a given conclusion than is typically warranted.
Really? It doesn't seem so to me. Admittedly, we couldn't test for properties of that being, but we could test for meta-properties. In fact, we do that all the time. Gravity, for instance, is just such a being. Consider: no one's ever seen gravity. You can't put an ounce of it in a container. You can't snap a picture of it. Dark matter was invented just to keep the force of gravity constant over the observed universe (which is not the same as saying that dark matter doesn't exist--it's merely to point out that phyicists were committed to the uniformity of gravitational force, and so had to posit more mass than could be observed). But we never see any properties of gravity. We only see meta-properties, which is to say, we have a hard time finding a regular and overarching pattern in the observed motions of bodies without supposing there is such a thing as gravity.Originally Posted by Simon W. Moon
Now, the fact that we can find at least a locally valid pattern is a good argument that gravity exists. But it's important to understand that we can't test directly. we can only test on a meta-level.
Well, I agree, but I don't think this quite has the epistemic consequences you seem to think it does. Suppose for a moment that we got on the internet tomorrow, and splashed all over all the news sites was the headline "We've Figured it All Out!" The story is that some brilliant group of researchers at Cambridge or some such place have suddenly figured out a theory of everything. They can now explain consciousness, all the observed forces, life, the presence of matter, all the mysteries of quantum mechanics, evolution, etc. etc. etc. Literally, there's an equation for everything, and it accords perfectly with all our observations, leaving none out and explaining all of them completely. While the theist might still maintain that, well, God wrote the equation, it'd be hard for most people to buy that. Such a God wouldn't be worthy of the name, it seems.Originally Posted by Simon W. Moon
This line of thought goes back to at least Thucydides and Democritus. Minds are supposed to be irregular and unpredictable. If there is a mind at the bottom of nature, we will expect to see capriciousness, willed action, arbitrariness, and so on. If there is not, we will expect to see regularity, predictability, and natural law. A God with free will that has constrained itself forever and perfectly to an equation has effectively given up that will. It is no longer God.
So the question is, then, what kind of world do we observe?