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 IAmAnAtheist » Philosophy is Unnecessary

Philosophy is Unnecessary

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

Two atheists in their high school library

Wayne: They’ve got the Hawking book back in. I’m going to get that.

Addison: Want anything else or are you ready to go? I’m just getting this.

Wayne: Who’s Bertrand Russell?

Addison: A philosopher.

Wayne: Are you still on about that? Hawking says that philosophy is dead, you know.

Addison: Then Hawking’s wrong.

Wayne: Blasphemer!

Addison: Right. Seriously though, Hawking’s a brilliant scientist but I wouldn’t go to him for a opinion on philosophy. It’s not his field.

Wayne: It’s not his field because once you have science, you don’t need philosophy anymore. While your Bertrand Russell is meditating on "what does it all mean?" or whatever, Hawking is getting things done.

Addison: If you’re implying that philosophers spend their time navel gazing about esoteric subjects with no real-world applications, Russell is one of the worst examples you could use. That’s beside the point, though. The point is that there are plenty of things that science can’t address, so you need philosophy to step in and fill the gap.

Wayne: The only things that science can’t answer are silly, esoteric questions that nobody really cares about. "What is the meaning of life?" and baloney like that. Everything else science can take care of.

Addison: That’s not true. What about the definition of science? That’s a philosophical question.

Wayne: No it isn’t.

Addison: Then how would you use science to define science?

Wayne: You try different ways of investigating the physical world and the one that works, you stick with.

Addison: What makes you think that trying a bunch of things and seeing which works is a good way to investigate something.

Wayne: It just obviously is. That’s the scientific method.

Addison: Then you’re assuming the scientific method before you set out to search for ways to find truth. You can’t do that.

Wayne: Why not? If I’m wrong, then the experiment will show I’m wrong.

Addison: That’s like saying, "I want to give Moe, Larry, or Curley $50, and I know that Moe is the best one to give it to because I asked him if I should give him $50 and he said yes."

Wayne: That’s not the same thing.

Addison: Sure it is. You need philosophy to tell you that it’s okay to predict the future by assuming that the laws of physics will remain constant, or that some things require more proof than other things. Without philosophy, you can’t even make sense of the phrase "see which one works." What does it mean for something to work in a scientific sense?

Wayne: If a scientific theory works, it shows you the truth about reality.

Addison: What is truth? What is reality? Those are philosophical questions.

Wayne: They’re stupid philosophical questions. Everyone knows the answers.

Addison: What does the word "know" mean?

Wayne: That’s an even stupider question.

Addison: Because everyone already knows the answer?

Wayne: Yes. It’s obvious.

Addison: My grandma knows that God exists.

Wayne: There’s no God.

Addison: But if you ask her, she’ll say He exists and she’ll say she knows He exists.

Wayne: Then she’s wrong.

Addison: Can you know something that’s wrong?

Wayne: No.

Addison: Why not?

Wayne: Because knowledge is true, justified belief. You can’t know something that’s not true.

Addison: Do you know that God doesn’t exist?

Wayne: Yes. So do you.

Addison: How do you know?

Wayne: It makes no sense for God to exist. Science has proved that God is unnecessary.

Addison: Can science prove that everything that is unnecessary doesn’t exist?

Wayne: You can prove that there’s no proof that it does exist.

Addison: That’s different than disproving something. Can you perform experiments to prove that there’s no chance that any kind of God — even a deist God that created reality and then left the scene — ever existed?

Wayne: We don’t need God.

Addison: That’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking if you can absolutely, with 100% certainty, disprove the existence of all possible things that might be labeled God.

Wayne: Not technically, no, but there’s still no reason to believe God exists.

Addison: That’s fine. What you’ve just told me is that there’s at least the smallest chance that when you say you know God doesn’t exist you are wrong. So, do you still say you know that God doesn’t exist?

Wayne: Yes.

Addison: But if God does exist then you are wrong, and by your own definition you can’t know something that isn’t true. So really, you don’t know whether or not you know if God exists, do you? And there’s no scientific experiment you can perform to find out, is there?

Wayne: This is why I hate philosophy.

Addison: This is why science needs philosophy.

Wayne: Swell.

 


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Posted on September 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

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