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Scientific Knowledge and Reasoning

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“Provability is a weaker notion than truth.” suggests that provability, in other words proving a theory with evidence is not necessarily better than the truth which in case of sciences set conclusions by scientists or philosophers or any expert in science go beyond the evidence provided. In this essay, the primary focus would be the paradigm shift, evidence and knowledge claim. The underlying thesis for essay is that people are inclined to employ simple means to explain and justify their theories or their beliefs and their experiences, and it is often arduous for others to realise that their perceptions of order and evidence may be entirely different form the whole truth. Then notions of blind faith would be explored along with the contradiction of religion and science. This would be done by analyzing the ways of knowing; faith and how atheist assertions suggest that people with religious faiths escape from facts and prefer to live in a fairy tale.

The story about Hanging Gardens of Babylon is an example where evidence was absolutely different from the truth. As the question states “beyond the evidence for them”, it is essential to contextualize that evidence is a type of proof that provides concrete date to support an idea. But what happens when the evidence provided goes beyond the previous product knowledge? The location of the legendary place created doubt among people as there was a lack of evidence. Therefore the production of knowledge was restricted due to the lack of evidence and paradigm shift occurred due to new evidences. The vicinity of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the Hanging Garden of Babylon has been an immense mystery. The archaeologists couldn’t find the traces of Babylon which led people to doubt its existence. However, after comprehensive 18 years of study, an archaeologist from Oxford University, Stephanie Dalley has found out that the garden was constructed by the Assyrians which are located in the north of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), and the obsolete location was thought to be in the south, created by the enemies of Assyrians – by the Babylonians. Recently, the British academic has proved a textual evidence to show that the garden was instead created at Nineveh, 300 miles from Babylon. Before Dr. Stephanie there was not a single archaeologist that risked their lives to travel to Mosul to find evidence for the location of the Garden. Aforementioned, one of the account claims that it was created by King Nebuchadnezzar, 600 years before the birth of Christ. However, in the writings of the time, none of them mentioned any garden, so archeologists before Dr. Stephanie just assumed that it was created by the Babylonians in Babylon. The contemporary findings suggest that what everyone thought of the accurate location of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon was wrong, but before Dr. Stephanie’s excavations and search for new evidences the location which is the conclusion made by previous historians and archeologists were false and they made conclusions without having clear evidences to support their conjecture.

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To understand the underlying thesis in more detail, it is important to understand what production of knowledge is and how it is accepted with devoid of evidence. According to Plato, knowledge is defined as “justified true belief”. A modern definition of knowledge is “the ideas or understandings which an entity possesses that are used to take effective action to achieve the entity’s goals.” If we contrast both of the definitions, the differences suggest that the definition of knowledge has altered over the past years. Similarly, the ways we collect evidence has altered too, and the scientists don’t conclude their theories with absence of evidence and the equipmens utilized to acquire knowledge have also been changed. Many years ago, experts and philosophers heavily relied on “word of mouth” when it comes to executing investigations, however, today, the science knowledge is obtained differently.

Evidence is critical to have a concrete proof, and the two areas of knowledge of Natural Science and Human Sciences would be explored, and the way of knowledge explored is reasoning. Reasoning allows humans to have stable mental states, because without giving reasoning to aspects of our lives, we will enter a state of abyss where doubt heavily controls us. ”God is not Great”, a book by Christopher Hitchens, explores the notion that faith in God. Along with the saying “blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.” by Richard Dawkins Atheism gained more prominence that these dogmatic statements allow the readers to question the validity of religion. The human sciences and reason prove these dogmatic statements, as it might be argued people who have faith in religion often ignore the facts and evidence, and some argue that they live in fantasy world that is detached from reality. Regardless of our beliefs about God, Allah, etc., we believe in things that are impossible to prove and we are obliged to believe in their reliability. Faith is like having a critical surgery, you have no evidence for a safe surgery; whether the procedure will go smoothly. In the same way, placing faith in Christ or in Allah or whatever religion others believe, as humans, we have to rely on the evidences such as the Quran. This also implies that in religion we deduce from abstract evidences that are provided to us, and reach conclusions that go beyond evidence.

On the other hand, human sciences can also be considered to be the same as religion. As Darwin states, “Science requires faith too before it can have reasons.” This suggests that science and religion share a similar epistemological status. Indeed, religious is a type of knowing and it can cooperate with science and can supplant them. Although religions do not include evidence such as witnessing God, myriad of people have faith in their religion. Undoubtedly, science and religion are different, but they are thought and contextualised in completely different ways. The main difference is that Science has the ability to allow rational thinking to take place; where notions can be analysed via investigations and tests.

In physics there is a branch of studies called theoretical physics which includes investigating concepts and theories that do not require concrete proofs or conclusions. If consider the String theory, it is arguable whether String Theory is actually a science or a philosophical stance? This has been a long going debate between physicists and philosophers. recently at the University of Munich in Germany there was a meeting with the experts and they have evaluated whether String theory is considered as science. Henceforth, “if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally”. This supported the popularity of theoretical physics because for a scientific theory to be valid there must be an experiment where Karl Popper in 1930s put as scientific experiments are required to go through falsificationism that no number or any other variety can either certify the scientific theory. Therefore, knowledge matures and evolves by presumptions and refutations. Human science involves models and the models in this branch of science is reliable when the model is repeated for many times to average out the obtained date. Over time knowledge claims are acknowledged, this is because, evidence gathered and the explanations verify more than the alternatives when it comes to explaining the evidence available. But, agreements don’t exist within philosophers. Even though science can reveal the truth about things that are we can’t visualise, there are other branches of science such as pseudoscience, or junk science where scientists attempt to claim credibility.

Scientists, such as physicists are usually dubious of theories that rely on nonvalid acclimations to support them. This suggest that a theorist, or an expert can add as many ad hoc hypothesis that they want, however, is never distorted. Hence, there is a cost to this power of having unlimited amount of ad hoc hypotheses. Pseudoscientific matters contain ad hoc hypotheses as they involve statements that are claimed to be both scientific and factual, but are juxtaposed with the scientific method. If a theorist so chooses, there is no limit to the number of ad hoc hypothesis that they could add. Thus, the theory becomes more and more complex, but is never falsified. To further explore the string theory, the theory involves the concept of particles being replaced by thin strings synthesize complex theories that involve describing gravity and quantum physics. It is argued that it shouldn’t be disregarded due to its inability to provide evidence, because it can be the right solution to many predicaments. However, from the perspective of reseasoning, it can be argued that String theory is not a science as it is not verifiable at the moment if we are looking at the theory from a rational perspective.

Reasoning and knowledge are concepts that cannot be secluded from each other. Knowledge aid in reasoning and reasoning is vital for humans. However is it crucial to use knowledge tactfully to reach consensuses on conclusions? The production of knowledge doesn’t require tangible proofs or concrete conclusions. Therefore, when producing knowledge in natural science scientist often go beyond the evidence as different perspectives should be examined when reaching a conclusion. However, there is a counterargument, the empirical evidence is always needed for the grand majority of successfully produced knowledge that had a conclusion. 

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