Go ahead if that is what you feel a need to do.
Please read the whole thing as it also addresses TToE. Thank you and I hope you had a blessed Easter!
It continues to amaze me how many “educated” people do not understand what Science* is or what is meant by the term “scientific method.” The statements of Nobel Prize physicist Percy W. Bridgman1 shows that such ignorance shows no regard for academic stature when he states, “No working scientist, when he plans an experiment in the laboratory, asks himself whether he is being properly scientific, nor is he interested in whatever method he may be using as method.” What arrogance!2
One of the best descriptions and explanations of the current concept of scientific method is interestingly found in the Appendix E of Frank Wolfs’ website .3
1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.
But in order to realize whether this is a valid concept or not, we need to understand what Science really is. Here is a typical dictionary definition of Science: “The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation [scientific method], and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena. Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.”4
Science on the other hand is an interesting definition in that it previously has applied to those fields of study which utilize the scientific method. For physics and chemistry, this is easy, but when we get into archeology, psychology, geology, environmental studies, and so on, the use of scientific methodology becomes less applicable but yet aren’t these still Science? What about archeology where even though one can not perform repeatable experiments we can yet validate hypotheses?
Let’s say that I am an archeologist and that I hypothesize that an ancient culture “X” existed based upon a piece of pottery that I had found and I further hypothesize various characteristics of this culture. Later it is found that I was correct in my hypothesis through continued validation from other findings. I then hypothesize that any culture that can make such pottery will have a high lead content in their remains. Again this is found to be true. These hypotheses have now become theories as they have been verified yet they did not follow the definition of scientific method nor could they. This is Science.
Some may say that in archeology, we use carbon-14 dating (or similar process) which does follow the scientific method. Though archeology does utilize some aspects of other sciences that do follow the scientific method, this is archeology’s use of physics. It is the physics that is following the scientific method in this case, not archeology.
The scientific method is fine for experimentation but it is inadequate in determining what is Science. In the past if a discipline could not be subject to the scientific method, it was not Science. Therefore, I would like to propose that the scientific method should only be applied to experimentation when appropriate and not be used in the determination of what is or is not science, nor should it have any application in defining what is a hypothesis, theory, fact, or law.**
In terms of the definition of what is or is not a Science, we need to find a definition that is timeless and few could argue against. One of the best way to understand the current definition of something is to look at its history (ignorance of the past will lead to mistakes of the future5) but I will leave that for a book on the subject because even though it is engrossing reading, it can get lengthy. I would like to propose that we define Science as the “the field of study which attempts to describe and understand the nature of the universe in whole or part.”* Though simple, it is an encompassing and elegant definition, as we will see.
Therefore those fields of study which attempt to describe and understand the nature of the universe on a “whole” scale such as physics and chemistry would fit our definition but so would those fields which study it in “part” such as biology whose field has been limited to only those life forms on Earth. Archeology attempts to describe and understand the fossil and archeological record (a part of the universe) and this understanding includes what its function, purpose, state of existence, etc. was. The archeological example previously given also shows how a hypothesis, theory, and fact can develop in the field of archeology...all without using the scientific method.