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The Questions Science Cannot Answer


The following is a plain and simple article in disciplines of philosophy of science and methodology. Better explanations for all the facts and events which are talked about could be found in a more intensive ways in the studies of these disciplines but as an average person in today’s society, it is vital to understand what science is and what science is not. It is important to understand to use science and scientific methods in right places and use them correctly, otherwise you can fool yourself by using scientific methods for answering questions which science is not able to think about, which are out of science’s limit.

Explaining the limitation of scientific methodology with the help of an imagined example

One of the most popular ways of using science to answering questions which science has no ability in answering them, in our times by the general public, as well as acclaimed and admired scientists themselves are the questions, I call them Why-questions -or shortly called why-s.

Let’s start the following with a science-fictional example: Imagine one day an alien scientist lands on the earth, in order to do some scientific research and win the Nobel prize of his home planet. Imagine the very first and also the only objects he or she visits is a company in the style of mass production companies of 19th and 20th century. One day in this very strange environment, he discovers that everything is organized by the ring of the great interesting bell in the company. The start of the work, ends of it, all the breaks, all the major changes in the company are controlled by the ring of this bell. So this is then his greatest observation or said different the best conclusion he can make in this new environment. As with every new discovery, he become fascinated with his great discovery and recognizes that this bell is the reason why everything functions the way they function. In his eyes, all people start working as the bell ring, make a pause with another ring of the bell and end their work with the last ring of the bell in the day. Amazing. He also makes a scientifically accepted experiment to prove his theory about this planet, so he change one factor in the environment to observe the effects. He manages the bell to ring an hour earlier and everything run out of order. So amazingly he is scientifically sure about his theory, that this ring is the reason for everything1.

Like this alien scientist, a great majority of us tend to behave the same way. We become so fascinated with the discovery of a correlation relationship in the unknown environment in which we live, that we slowly use correlational relationships as same as casual relationships. For answering why-questions, you need to have an awareness of the causal relationship between the events but to answer how-questions you rather need to understand the correlational relationship between the happenings.

Are talks going too philosophical? So, let us go back once again to the example of that scientists alien and this time look to what he did while we know the reason of everything better than him …

He observed with very keen eyes and lots of his mind ability How things happened in that company and the first relation he could discover was the correlation between bell’s ring and the changes in workers’ behaviors. But this is not a casual relationship; that the company each day starts to work has another reason than the ring of the bell, why each individual worker in that company starts his job and ends his job by the ring of the bell could have unique answers for each individual worker. Maybe the reason for one is that he should feed seven children, for the other is that he wish to earn lots of money one day and marry the girl of his dream and the other one spends all he earned for alcohol and prostitutes, whatever reason one individual has for his work in that company, it is not because of the existence of a bell in the building. Even though we tend to believe such conclusions are scientifically proved, but it is very vital to understand what scientifically proved facts means. Scientifically proved facts are the correlational relationships between the events we are very sure about them that they are going to happen this way till the end of the time. As an example water bowl in 100 degree Celsius in a normal room. But these correlations between the change in water’s molecular order and the temperature degree, is not enough to say these events are also stand in a casual relationship to one another, for that we need more than scientific observations and methods and even more important, science is not aimed to answer any why-question, but we can use all this correlational relationships to make changes in nature to our own good.

Let us see this on a very popular story in science’s history. Isaac Newton’s theory, the theory of gravitation is a great way to provide us with understandings about the correlational relationship between physical objects, but it cannot answer the question of why things stand in such correlational relationship to each other, what is the cause of this correlations. Said in plain words, Isaac Newton is in no way able to answer the simple question why an apple fall from a tree to the earth? Even though the majority of us learn in the school or in front of TV that this is exactly what he tries to answer all of over his life. What Newton answers is How an apple fall to the earth? He can precisely tell you the exact speed of any apple in any given second. He can precisely tell you how two given objects will move toward each other with his gravitation theory. But if there is any gravity between the objects or gravity is just a simplified way for us to figure out correlations, you cannot answer with scientific methods. Unfortunately or, fortunately, he can never fulfill our expectations for answering the simple question why apples fall on the earth. But does it mean, if science is not able to answer to questions of why, such questions has no answers? Before answering this question, let us look a little bit more to our understanding of scientific methods and come back to this question later on …

Unbelievably the general public and even the scientific psychologists [read it nearly every single psychologists living alive in our era] believes to answer why-questions through scientifically proved facts and the most used scientifically proved fact in our society right now could be the evolution theory, or maybe the boldest one of them, because if you read such explanations for the first time in your life, you will be totally amazed by the fact that our psyche is designed in the way it designed and all our psychological and spiritual aspects of life are just minded to ensure the survival of human species on the earth.

I believe in Charles Darwin’s theory, the way I believe in every other scientifically proved theory, but I am aware of the fact that a scientific theory can’t provide answers to why-questions and if someone try to do so, their attempts is no more science. Charles Darwin’s theory is a great discovery in our understanding of evolution, of how different species died out, the other one survived and some get more complexed, some developed in one way, others in a different way but with the help of this theory you cannot answer why these things have happened, you can just recognize how these events took place one after another, without needing to observe all the species living the earth from start till the end of time. Charles Darwin has recognized correlations in the life of different species on the earth but figuring out correlations and being fascinated by your discovery should not lead you to fool yourself that these correlations are the same as casual relationships.

Some of bold examples in our todays’ psychology in using this scientific theory in an incorrect way,  are the attempts to answering questions like „why we fall in love“, „why we chase after men/women“, „why we nearly do everything for sex“, „why …“ and lots of lots of other unanswered whys. The simple task of greatest psychologists of our time is to make us believe a proper answer to all this questions is that all our psych and it’s amazing design is there just to ensure that human species will survive on this planet, if you have ever heard this answer for the first time in your life, you will be shocked by the fact that how meaningless the most meaningful things in our lives are, when you use this theory in this way but when you hear this theory over and over and over again, our mind will get used to believing that love is something meaningful in some moments of our lives and in other moments, our mind will show us that love is just there to let the evolution happen. Now you can see we are in the same trap as that alien scientist. If a man and a woman fall in love and have sex and enjoy the experience and later on and infant being starts its development into a human baby inside the belly of that woman, all these wonderful events one after another are doesn’t exists because the mankind must survive, like the same conclusion that everything which happens in a company is not caused by the ring of a bell. The ring of the bell has been not the reason why every single worker works in that company and it the same way, the evolution of the mankind can’t be the reason of our behavior. The way we behave cause our species to survive as well like the same fact that as long as the company functions the bell will ring as well but there are just correlations and not reasons for anything. The reason why two people love each other is not because this love in one way or another way in most cases ends up to birth of one or several babies. It is just like the ring of the bell in the company. If a man and woman have sexual intercourse in proper manner, in proper time, there is good chance that a baby births successfully after some 9 months but these events which are followed one by one are by their own selves no mean to be the reason of a sexual intercourse and on greater scale evolution theory can in no way answer any why-question. Not even very smart questions like why shy men are less attractive to women? The answer goes like this: „because shy men are not good fighters and as in the early time the ability to fight was very crucial for the survival when you didn’t have any technological advancement, and the greatest motivation in the world is the survival of the species, therefore over time women have survived who chased after extrovert men and, therefore, extrovert men are more attractive for majority of female in any animal and as well human being.“ You see, so many conclusion after conclusion, while the first assumption is wrong, human being and as well none of the animals are there to ensure their survival on this planet. Survival of a species is not the reason of its existence, there is just a correlational relationship between these two events.

But can why-questions ever get answered?

I am not going to answer this question right now, since we already talked about lots of things, so maybe another time would be a post about it, if Allah wills, but never forget that science can’t answer to these questions, no matter how desperate we wished that science will do so and all people agree about the answers to why-questions because they will be scientifically proved

If you are interested you can write your opinion about this question and maybe we publish it as a guest author on our blog if you like ….

  1. for sure this example is not the exact way how science functions but a very simplified story of an alien scientist, aim to using science for drawing conclusions beyond sciences' abilities, which said academically, means, using science to recognize the reason behind the events, instead of using it to figure out the correlation between the events and to draw rules from those correlations, but in no way reasons. ↩︎

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