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What are the limits of science? When does science become useless for answering our questions? When do other fields become necessary?

As I watched Sean Carroll speak in this talk, I found it amazing that the stated purpose of this talk is to find WHAT made the universe like it is, and he didn't even once think to mention a creator, even though he states quite emphatically that the universe "was not chosen randomly" and that "something made it that way." If "something made it," then that something is by definition a "creator," commonly called "God."

Even more amazing was that while he would not open up the possibility of a God, he does propose some sort of "universal chicken" that brings forth universes. It may be a metaphor, but the metaphor is telling. He thinks bringing up a Cosmic Chicken that creates universes is more appropriate in a scientific talk than mentioning a God.

The problem here is that he is having a scientific discussion about a subject that ceases to be science and becomes only speculation. Because the proper sphere of science is exhausted, his scientific talk about things that can't be seen, tested, or measured (like other universes) tends to be nonsense. It is much better to have a religious or philosophical debate at this point and only bring in science when it has something useful to add.

Now, speculation isn't bad, it just needs to be done in the right manner. Speculation in science is called "making a hypothesis," but that hypothesis must be tested if it is to remain "science." Speculation and argumentation as a field has traditionally been called "the dialectic."

I believe Sean Carroll should have dropped the field of science and jumped to the dialectic. By only sticking to science, he cheapens his points. He should move to better disciplines like religion or philosophy to address his questions and add science when it becomes relevant.

It seems like he is either afraid or unaware that science, theology, and philosophy have the ability to coexist.

So, did Sean Carroll go too far in his speculation? I think he did. Say what you think.


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    May 18 2011: Science is a continuum so it's limitless.
    The question that is unasnwered today by science , will be answered tomot hats the way Science came through and will be going through..........
    Art, literature, social sciences, history , philosophy etc .... definitely are necessary for the application of science for greater well being humankind and nature.
    • May 18 2011: "Science is a continuum, so it's limitless." That's a very interesting statement. Can you prove it using science? Can you show me an experiment that proves this to be so? Have we observed it to be limitless? If not, it seems that science is not limitless. The fact that science is expanding (as evidenced by you calling it a continuum) proves that it DOES have a limit.

      This seems to be a belief you have and at which you did not arrive through science. You just believe it. Why do you believe it?

      I do not believe science is limitless. Science is the way to understand scientific things. Science deals with what we can perceive and with what IS. There are other ways to understand things. Science does not tell us what SHOULD be. That's morality. Science does not tell us what is beautiful. Science cannot tell us about things outside our universe. Things outside our universe cannot be perceived, and that's why Sean Carroll's cosmological scientific pursuit is so fruitless.

      Science has limits.
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        May 18 2011: Hi Caleb
        Did I say there is no need of other subjects?

        Rather in the last sentence of my earlier post I said the opposite.

        Well in strict sense I agree science may have limit as it will not continue once all species which can think scietifically perish as there will be no species left to continue it.

        But no doubt it's a continuum, the simple example once to send a winning message of Battle of Marathon someone had to run hard and die, now accross the globe both of us communicating with each other with a click..... who knows what will be next ?

        Today what is limit of science tomorrow it's not , that's the way it progressed so far...............
        • May 18 2011: I think I misunderstood your last comment. I thought you said that art, literature, philosophy, etc, are all the application of science. You actually said they are necessary FOR the application of science. Point taken.
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        May 18 2011: Caleb: [Science has limits.] Agreed. I find it funny that "critical thinking" is put on a pedestal by modern society, but as a whole we're never-ever allowed to apply the same to science itself. It's something of an intellectual taboo to even suggest the limits of science.

        In his Ten Myths of Science, William McComas points out what we're taught about science in public schools doesn't match what scientists actually do in the real world.

        In Against Method, Paul Feyerabend has a laundry list of limitations to science. Philosophers of science shape the concept as much as public schoolteachers. Where does falsifiability come from? A philosopher, not a scientist.

        What's more, is that this philosopher, Karl Popper, was a critic of current popular beliefs and helped coin the pejorative term "scientism." Scientism is the (naive) idea that natural science is the most authoritative worldview or aspect of human education, and that it is superior to all other interpretations of life.

        The only problem here is that science is actually birthed and governed by philosophy. For example, what is main ingredient of empirical evidence? Empiricism, of course. The funniest part is that there are many-many people who think this philosophy is the only evidence there is. . .for anything!

        Take math for example, it's neither empirical in the evidential sense, nor is it falsifiable! But it's the lifeblood of all theory and experimentation! Can you falsify the 1st principles that math is founded upon? No, of course not.

        It's time to ask those who embrace the dogma of scientism, "Where is your science now?" Once you realize that even logic itself is math-based, Dorothy already had herself a really good peek behind the curtain.

        Thanks for your time Caleb, as well as your courage to point out the emperor has no clothes.
      • May 18 2011: We also don't have evidence that it has a limit. When we can't know either way what's the answer?

        "I don't know"
        • May 18 2011: Of course we have evidence that science has a limit. You don't have empirical scientific evidence of it, but empirical evidence is not the only kind of evidence.

          For example: Science can't tell you what is right or wrong. That's called morality. Science might tell you that something will cause death, but science can't tell you what is worth dying for. Science has many limits.

          Science is the way you study scientific things. If you try to use science as the basis of morality, theology, literature, art, or philosophy, then it makes for half-rate morality, theology, literature, art, and philosophy.
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      May 18 2011: Salim............Dream on !!!!!!!
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        May 18 2011: Hi Helen
        Yes I do dream , I love to dream.......

        I am not a scientist (but would be happy if I could) but all scientists are dreamer (it does not mean poets, philosophers, artist & so on don't dream) as they dream for new solution and findings, so they work relentlessly and once many of those dreams come true !!

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