Lead Article

  • Issue 90 / November - December 2012



    Science

    M. Fethullah Gulen

    Today, scientific developments have reached unparalleled speed and level as we stumble upon a new surprising invention or discovery every day. It can be argued that more new inventions and discoveries have been presented to humanity within the last quarter century by science than in all previous times. Not one day passes without vast amounts of information developing in a very extensive field, from the micro to the macro world, shedding light on so many previously unknown points about existence. From the world of atoms to nebulas, from the animal world to the human organism, from technology and electronics to lasers, we learn daily from newspapers and magazines of countless discoveries and findings which reach every corner of the world bringing along joy and, not to a lesser degree, fear and panic.

    Under the influence of these developments, it is highly likely that there will be collective transformations in convictions, ideas, and , scientific thought. When we look back at the recent past, we see that so many things have changed. Just yesterday, commonly accepted "immutable" facts, such as Galileo's understanding of the cosmos or Newton's universal gravitation, have been exchanged for relativity and become defunct theories. The view of taking matter as the basis for everything has been doubted for a long time. Today we see that researchers in different fields, particularly quantum physics, are concerned with the non-material world just as much as the material world. It seems that in the near future not just matter or atoms, but anti-matter will become a common subject of research for circles of science; metaphysics will be mentioned wherever physics is considered.

    Science tries to explain the realities of our perceptions in the light of results obtained through experience. It does not give credit to knowledge which is not perceived and verified by the senses until their reality is proven through scientific methodology. For example, nobody doubts the reality of those things that we can see, regardless of their nature. Likewise, we can say the same for things we hear, touch or experience with other things perceptible through our sense organs. As for magnetic or electronic fields that we cannot perceive with our sense organs, we detect them with compasses or other tools. Science is able to perceive this much with the means it presently has, but is as yet unable to go further beyond "electrical," "magnetic," and "gravitational" fields. As relevant tools and devices that can prove the existence and nature of other fields are invented, scientific research will then be able to start exploring beyond these fields. In this respect, claiming that science encompasses everything and that it has reached its ultimate limits is surely a great mistake and is blind to what the history of science has shown us. As a matter of fact, if we look into the discoveries and inventions science has produced, we realize that what we know is almost nothing in comparison to what we do not know.

    Not only does claiming that we know everything contradict reality, it is also a regressive behavior which lacks any zeal for further progress and is about being content with the present achievements. In every era, those who deem the achievements reached by contemporary science as the ultimate limits of progress, have blocked the way to further scientific discoveries and reduced the intellectual life to misery. Therefore, we see it as an obligation to reconsider what we have learned so far with a critical perspective, our previous knowledge needs to be reevaluated in the light of new discoveries, both in terms of correcting our mistakes and finding a way out of today's dead ends. This includes a thorough study of the outer space and the earth, their relation to one another, night and day flowing in regular cycles, the special conditions of living or non-living beings in their own world, as well as human and animal organisms' motion, function and purposes. Likewise soil, water, their composition, and their relationship with living beings, all must absolutely be reevaluated and analyzed with modern methods. Only in this way will it be possible to correct those theories that have not been proven according to scientific research methods, and those mistaken rules which are based on wrong judgments.

    The dignity of science requires research to be conducted with an appropriate methodology. Those who busy scientific centers with unproven theories both deceive the masses and violate the dignity of science. Scientific methodology in its plainest form consists of: first, scientists determine their subject and clearly define what they want to learn; then they revise the results of previous research related to that subject; and then they determine the results to be derived from the data that they have collected. In order to test the reliability of the previously obtained results properly, a set of new tests is applied. If the new tests do not prove the suggested theory, scientists go back to the drawing board for further research. They collect new data, and by combining it with previous findings, they give new shape to their theory. Thus, they record the experimentally proven findings and then they consider whether the particular fact that they would like to define as an established principle can be generalized or not. If it can be generalized, then they evaluate the relationship with similar phenomena and see the whole of the picture. This method of research, also adopted by modern methodology, is an objective one for scientific evaluation. Therefore, it is absolutely not scientific to claim that something is definitely true or is established without using such scientific methodology, and to object or deny what contradicts that assumption. Suppositions and estimations asserted as established ideas are nothing but suggested theories and the universal principles that are derived from these suggestions are nothing but deception. Scientific conclusions cannot be drawn from such suppositions and estimations, nor can such suppositions be used to reject knowledge affirmed by testimony and reliable reports or proven through proper methodologies.

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