On a Beach Walk: No. 15

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The body of knowledge known by the human race is huge – yet most of us know so little – a mere fraction of the total. What each of us know may be equivalent to a handful of sand on a long beach – if that. It is a meager few drops from the water that I see.

As I gaze down this long beach, I recall the day a fellow teacher knocked on my classroom door. She was polling the staff about their knowledge about a topic on a 1-to-10 scale – to which I paused and answered 4.

Given our past conversations and her knowledge about me, she questioned my choice. “How can you say that when I know you taken classes and workshops, and then trying and implementing these strategies?”

I verified her points about me, but then explained my reflective self-evaluation as a relative point. My reference point were the experts in the field (who I named). “Compared to them I am no more than a 4 – but compared to my colleagues I am a 10 – and there is no way most of them an 8, 9, or 10.”

Yes, knowledge is relative. I look out over the vast waters of the Gulf of Mexico, no land is in sight, yet I know land is out there, but far away. Yet, while the gulf is large compared to the small pond in the neighborhood or the nice lake at a state park, it is small compared to the Atlantic Ocean – and even smaller compared to the Pacific Ocean.

I think of all the water found on Earth – in the lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, bays, gulfs, and oceans – let alone in the ground, the air, as glaciers and icecaps, and within living organisms. The seemingly vast water of the Gulf of Mexico now seem so small. No matter how much one knows, it’s actually so little.

Yes, my knowledge is the small amount of sand that touches my feet as I stare across the water then down both directions of the long beach. While water washing ashore signifies changing times, I still like walking the beach as it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Way of Knowing

I have always defined science as the search for the explanation of what we observe in nature. Nature is science’s playing field – a field with boundaries, willing participants, methodologies, and rules. (A past post) Aiming at questions of what and how, science is a human endeavor leading us to new knowledge – thus science is not static, yet it continues to dive into ventures with an incomplete understanding.

Science is impersonal, yet uses a trained mind with passion and imagination to find patterns, structure, connections, and history within nature through senses and data so we can better understand ourselves, the natural world that is around us, and our place in this world.

Therefore, science requires a conscious mind that observes, inquires, organizes, interprets, understands, and a willingness to follow acceptable scientific methodologies while staying within nature’s boundaries – yet that does not mean that nothing exists outside of nature’s boundaries.

Science is a gift as it brings us new knowledge, yet knowledge that is only for a given point in time because it can change based on newer knowledge. Because of potential development of new knowledge, science must be willing to have what is current known to be proven wrong. Yet new claims must are also subject to verification. (Past Post #2)

Science gives us theories. Theories are a structure of ideas that explain and interpret numerous facts about a concept – thus, well beyond a personal opinion or a detective’s hunch. Scientists base theories on a large amount of evidence that has been extensively tested and observed in nature.

Science brings forth new issues causing us to face moral and ethical questions – whose answers to which science does not provide. Science is neither equipped nor competent to answer ethic and moral questions, let alone the metaphysical, philosophical, or theological questions as “what is the meaning of life”, “why am I here”, and “is there a god?”

Science is a way of knowing, but not the only way as it does not corner the way to truth. Philosophical, theological, psychological/emotional, ethical, political, and historical views provide additional perspectives, yet each discipline is selective and limited. Science is not in competition with the other fields as other disciplines apply science’s methodologies. Nonetheless, new scientific findings can be unsettling to other fields and society as a whole because it may cause instability in current foundations, including those of the past.

One can have a misunderstanding about science, but that does not mean science is wrong.

One can ignore science, but that does not mean science is wrong.

One can disagree with science, but that does not mean science is wrong.