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Posted on August 7 at 3:24 p.m.
Tam, Thanks for securing this interview with Dr. Krauss. I appreciate your efforts to engage in this conversation.
Some things that stand out to me:
You say: “…there is no real dividing line between science and philosophy and that every scientist is implicitly a philosopher.” I think I agree with you that every scientist is implicitly a philosopher. I think that the difference between a Philosopher and a Scientist though, is the connection to the real world. A Scientist may use his mind and creativity to postulate possibilities, but is not satisfied with just an elegant mental logical solution. He takes it a step further and sees if his thoughts jive with what we observe in the real world. The Scientist goes beyond words and into physical verification. In Defense of Philosophy, in response to Why questions, you say, “We may never know the answer to this or similarly deep questions, but it is not irrational to speculate about answers. And nor should it be discouraged.” I agree with this. This is creativity as I see its role in Science. In my eyes, when you identify as a Theist (as you do in Seeking the Divine), you are going beyond speculation but have now committed to a position that many people, including myself, think, at this time, is unsubstantiated beyond mental constructs (the realm of Philosophy and Religion). Think and speculate about answers to deep questions but consider letting empirical verification and not words or thoughts guide ones commitment to positions. One does not have to be a slave to words. See P.W. Bridgman The Logic of Modern Physics for an explanation of operational thinking and meaningless questions. Consider also Stewart Chase’s Tyranny of Words.
You further state: “For me, the middle ground between muddled mysticism, dogmatic theism, and scientism is an acceptance of the ultimate mystery behind it all. We’ll never know the full extent of what we don’t know and, despite the amazing successes of science and technology in our modern world, this mystery should forever keep us humble.” In reading the piece Seeking the Devine I was surprised to find that you identified with Theism as the above statement sounds, to me, like one that an Agnostic might identify. While you suggest that Dr. Krauss has changed his position in his book, it appears to me that you have changed your position from identifying with Theism as stated in “Seeking” to Agnosticism (“…an acceptance of the ultimate mystery behind it all.” “We’ll never know the full extent…” in this piece). Maybe avoiding labels, as Dr. Krauss prefers, would be a more objective way to move forward with unsettled thoughts.
Having read this piece, Seeking the Divine, and In Defense of Philosophy, I will take the advice you gave to 14noscams and read your other contributions. I have not been particularly persuaded by your pieces (specifically Defense of Philosophy) but find them interesting and I have appreciated each thus far. Thanks. Again.
On Something from Nothing?