Frankly speaking, I believe that I do not need to work on this final paper in INTPHIL regarding scientific truths for two major reasons. First, I am a part of the group that reported on the Philosophy of Science. Second, even if I do not do this work, I am already assured of getting a grade of 4.0 in this subject because of my extra points over and above the perfect score in both the first and second halves of the term which would compensate for a score of zero in this paper. Nevertheless, as one can see, I have submitted this paper. I have done this no longer for the sake of getting a grade, but already for the sake of doing philosophy, something which cannot be learned from books which, according to the wheelwright in one of Chuang Tzu’s works, are only the dirt the sages of the past had left behind. I am also doing this for the sake of making this course an effective introduction to philosophy, which, as I have mentioned in the first essay I wrote in this subject, should be like an unfinished story which the student should continue.
As I begin this paper, I would like to go back to Filipino Philosophy. While I discussed lengthily the simple words “sige” and “palá” in my paper on Filipino Philosophy, I will discuss only briefly the Tagalog word “tama” in this paper. Note the uses of the word in the following sentences: (1) Tama ang sagot mo. (2) Tama na, sobra na. (3) Natamaan siya. The previous sentences are translated as shown: (1) Your answer is correct. (2) Stop it. It’s already too much. (3) He was hit.
In the first sentence, the word “tama” is translated as “correct” or “right”. In the second sentence, it can be translated as “enough” while in the third sentence, it is translated as “hit”. By comparing the meanings and uses of the word “tama” in the first two sentences, one can gain the insight that what is correct or right for Filipinos may be what is only enough and not what is too much. By comparing the first and the third sentences, one can assume that for Filipinos, what is correct is something that hits the mark. I would not expound further for I leave these to the future INTPHIL students and for the future “me” to explore.
Many would perhaps think that the reasoning I employed for the brief exploration of the word “tama” in Filipino philosophy is shallow since many modernized Filipinos nowadays seem to believe strongly in science. A deeper analysis of what Filipinos think on certain issues might change the minds of those criticizing my philosophizing of Filipino worldview. Try to ask Filipinos which theories they believe more regarding the creation of the world, the emergence of the human race and the different contraceptive methods. Many will perhaps believe the Bible more than the scientific theories. Some would even defeat the priests in their faith in God, considering that some priests believe in a compromise and combination theory of religion and science. This fact shows that despite scientific advancements, science is not fully successful in convincing Filipinos perhaps because some of what science claim do not appeal to the senses of the Filipinos who believe that what is correct should not be too much.
Despite the fact that I am a Chemical Engineering student who, as a consequence, has a heavy science background, I sometimes take midway stands on these theories. Ask me about the origin of the universe, and I will tell you that I believe that God created the universe in a way yet to be known. Ask me about the ancestors of the human species, homo sapiens sapiens, and I will answer that human beings are created by God through the evolutionary process-a compromise stand. This might be due to the fact that for me, what is more convenient is more appealing. Moreover, I chose the Pragmatic Theory of Truth in one of my previous quizzes in this subject. Hence, what is true for me is usually what is more practical.
To tell the truth, I sometimes frown at some impractical theories and practices of science and mathematics. Among these are Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the practice of proving in Mathematics. Moreover, I believe that a number of students good in Mathematics also disapprove of the Mathematical practice of proving. During my first few years in High School, I became a trainee of the Mathematics Trainers’ Guild, Philippines, a non-stock, non-profit organization of teachers who send students abroad to compete and represent the Philippines in international and intercity Mathematics competitions. In some of the trainings, some of my fellow trainees would often ask the teacher, “What is the use of matrices in our daily lives?”, or, “What is the use of proving?” Sometimes, the teacher would simply point to value aims such as perseverance, determination, practice and others.
Even some members of the faculty of the College of Engineering criticize the theoretical yet impractical approach of the College of Science. In particular, the Mathematics Department of De La Salle University-Manila is deprived of its right to handle mathematics subjects in the College of Engineering because the said college believes that proving stuffs as what most mathematicians do is not what engineering is about. They believe that engineering is the practical applications of the processes and not the search of proofs for certain mathematical theories proven by some other experts.
Philosophy of Science, however, focuses more on the processes involved in the search of knowledge for science. While many believe that what is scientific is definitely true, many failed to see the different truth levels of the statements. In mathematics, we have what we call the axioms, theorems, lemma, conjecture, corollary and postulate. In science, we have what we call the inferences, hypotheses, conclusion, generalization, theories and laws. Each of these varies from the rest by their scope or level of truth. Laws are said to be unbreakable while theories are said to be second only to laws in a sense that they are unproven proposals. Many think that because a statement is a scientific theory, it is automatically true. This is very misleading, though, since some would even argue, for example, that human beings evolved from apes when, in fact, the theory of evolution is still a theory-unproven.
What are questionable in science are not only limited to theories and the other levels of scientific truths. The objectivity of science is also questionable in that scientists who have had some scientific background through education are unconsciously biased in favor of the knowledge they acquired in their education. Another issue here is the failure of scientists to take note of all factors involved in the experiment. Although, they exert some effort to distinguish and to separate relevant and irrelevant facts, the fact that some data are disregarded shows that scientists do not give these disregarded factors the benefit of being considered in the experiment. Besides, how can scientists know which are relevant and which are not when they start from scratch assuming to know nothing but ideas about the outcome of the experiment?
It is indeed a fact that oftentimes, science needs to assume certain conditions in order to proceed with its search for knowledge, contrary to what people believe to be the characteristics distinguishing science from religion. Among these assumptions is the belief that experiments validate the hypotheses. Another major assumption is that things happen because of a cause. This assumption is often called the Principle of Causality. While people fail to see the connection between a cause and an effect, they still believe that there is indeed a connection between a cause and its effect. The Principle of Causality has become a belief system-a religion-promoting the domino-effect concept. Many would even argue that the connection between a cause and its effect is a cause-and-effect relationship. Doing so would lead us to another assumption that the future will resemble the past.
These assumptions have indeed become the foundations of science. Indeed, the foundation of the natural sciences can be compared with a religion since it establishes certain facts from experiments founded on assumptions. At the beginning of this paper, I concluded that with or without this paper, I will get 4.0 in this subject, assuming that this paper would not be of too much weight (i.e., perfect score of 300 or so). I also assumed that since our group reported on this topic, we already knew this topic and we did not need to do this paper on this topic to understand it further. These, too, are assumptions that looked like facts when the readers read the first paragraph of this essay. In spite of these assumptions, what is important is that these are possibilities and that these are applicable.
I do not care much whether the foundation of the sciences is only a set of assumptions, strong or weak. What is important for me is that certain scientific truths are still applicable, practical and usable at the present time. I do not mind even if these supposed truths have their flaws as long as these are functional, and as long as their flaws do not affect the things I do and encounter. After all, this is what science really is-a belief system, like a religion, minus the very strong emphasis on ethics and morality.
Considering my idea that science is, like religion, a belief system too, I use the concept used by the professor in Guevarra’s article, “Tracing God”, in dealing with the ideas of skeptics like David Hume. I view their ideas as their way of grappling the truth that do not easily hand itself to men. I also see these ideas about nature as serious attempts at understanding our environment and ourselves. I also believe that we should be thankful because skeptical ideas and skeptics exist because they remind us that we do not have the last say about the world and the universe, and that as human beings, we are finite and have holes of imperfections. However, they cannot touch what we believe in. They can only argue with us when we put our thoughts in words. After all, they do not argue that the knowledge science has given us is wrong, they only argue that the process employed by science is not without flaws.
I know what I believe in, and I can stand for these.