Monday, March 16, 2009

Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner

Shocking news: the winner of this year's Templeton Prize says that science isn't everything. He proposes a way to reconcile science and religion [Science Cannot Fully Describe Reality, Says Templeton Prize Winner].

The only shocking thing about this is that Science magazine treats it seriously. Don't they know what the Templeton Prize is for? It's for people who advocate reconciliation between science and religion.


  1. Didn't take him long to evoke quantum mechanics...Didn't see that coming.

  2. So then, did Bernard d'Espagnat fully describe reality or something? That's a lot of money for not fully describing reality.

  3. Nice, at last a way to reconcile science and religion !

    oh wait, gazillions of people have tried that ! If we still hear about "new ways to reconcile science and religion", it's simply because absolutely no progress has ever been made to reconcile an approach based on faith, which is always blind to a certain degree, with an approach essentially based on the rejection of faith.

    ...We all know science isn't perfect, but it's no reason to fill voids with faith.

  4. Great stuff!
    Bernard d'Espagnat is in the environment of the Université Interdisciplinaire de Paris, a non-for-profit association acting as a outstation for JTF, promoting every kind of non-materialistic science, with a anti-Darwin agenda and some support to paranormal.

    An indirect way to inject money to the european neo-creationist movement.

  5. Leaving aside the "science of the gaps" argument, it is correct to say that science cannot ever describe reality in full, which is why we do science,
    That is why singularities, paradoxes, etc. are interesting problems. Will we solve all those problems? Maybe, maybe never. Who knows? A more troublesome problem is the habit of supposedly atheist scientists in their dotage smuggling religious ideas into their supposedly "scientific pronouncements". Wilson's "Consilience" is a prime example. The attitude that science can help explain every expression of reality is scientific. But asserting that science can uncover an ultimate reality is a religious attitude.

  6. and that the scientific view must take its place alongside the reality revealed by art, spirituality, and other forms of human inquiry.
    d'Espagnat responds that "science isn't everything" and that we are already accustomed to the idea that "when we hear beautiful music, or see paintings, or read poetry, [we get] a faint glimpse of a reality that underlies empirical reality." In the possibility of a veiled reality that is perceived in different and fragmentary ways through science, art, and spirituality, d'Espagnat also sees, perhaps, a way to reconcile the apparently conflicting visions of reality that science and religion provide.

    This is confused and/or confusing. Science is far and away the superior tool for epistemology. Art, spirituality (whatever that is) etc. are about aesthetics, not epistemology.

    But the inherent uncertainty of quantum measurements means that it is impossible to infer an unambiguous description of "reality as it really is," he says. He has proposed that behind measured phenomena exists what he calls a "veiled reality" that genuinely exists, independently of us, even though we lack the ability to fully describe it.

    This sounds like the "hidden variable" view. If he is convinced that this true reality exists deep down where the scientific quantum view cannot get at it, why does he think that art, spirituality, etc. can get down to them? That would seem to be an argument from ignorance.

    Obscurantism. Why is Science magazine reporting on a religious prize anyway?

  7. Larry says,

    "Don't they know what the Templeton Prize is for?"

    Yes, I assume that the editors of Science can figure out the answer to your question.

  8. So... if we tick all the bits of reality that science can currently describe, what is left can only be understood by one or more of the thousands of religions, philosophies, or spiritual experiences? Colour me unimpressed.

    I can forsee that science will someday understand consciousness, art, god feelings, and beauty etc. I can also understand that there may be some aspects of reality which will always be unknowable - because they may be too small, too far away, too far in the past or future. They don't sound to me like places where you would expect to find god stuff. A God of the tiniest, weeniest gaplet?