Understanding the bounds of a theory is essential to understanding the theory itself. People often make the mistake of requiring all holes in an explanation to be filled. While it is a noble desire, it is unrealistic. 

Scientific theories have specific bounds. In the case of the Big Bang, the theory only covers the time period from one Planck second after the event itself to the present. It says nothing of what happened inside that first Planck second, as this might even lack any meaning (per the definition of the Planck time scale). It says nothing about what any singularity was or where it came from or if it even existed.

Similarly, Evolution does not explain how non-living matter became living matter. That subject is covered by abiogenesis. And that field certainly does not claim to have all of the answers.

This leads me to the point of discussion. It seems to be common that ex-theists, specifically ones that held a fundamentalist belief that a god offered an explanation for everything, often find themselves trying to fill in all of the holes once they become atheists. They are very unsatisfied with not having everything answered. They see holes in science as a flaw. I know this to be true as I too had this problem 16 years ago when I rejected fundamentalist Christianity. I felt that any natural explanation that lacked the power of my previous theist position was inferior, not realizing at the time that my theist position was built on several logical fallacies and that science needs not offer an alternate explanation to god, as god itself is not an explanation. Using god to fill in the gaps of knowledge is replacing a mystery with a greater unproved mystery.

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"I don't know" is what we start with.  After that comes observation, investigation, experiments, analysis, and lots of sweat.  Some issues, like the Big Bang, may never be fully explained because, even with all the evidence left behind, we remain 13.78 billion years separated from the event.  Other issues, depending on their nature, may be met with a variation on the above theme: "I don't know ...YET!"

And as for those who want to insist that they absolutely have the answer, there is a second variation:

"I don't know ... and Neither Do You!"

True; after "I don't know" comes observation, investigation, experiments, analysis, lots of sweat, ...

...and/or, sometimes, invention. Such as Piltdown, creation science, intelligent design and more.

We remain 13.78 billion years separated from the event/invention.

Neither party yet knows, depending of course on who defines 'know', as Lewis Carrol told us.

And who is to stop a party from insisting that he/she/they know?

Well, that is weird.

Are you equating creation science and intelligent design to invention? Assertion would be more accurate as invention is typically something that yields a useful product. You can assert creation science/intelligent design all day long but one cannot demonstrate it to be true and thereby cannot consider it knowledge.

Knowledge is typically accepted to be justified true belief, though there might be a fourth component yet undefined. I am still researching this extra component, but so far I see nothing more on this matter than philosophical musings so Plato's definition of just 'justified true belief' makes a whole lot of sense. 

The important part of this definition is that the 'justified' part has to be objective. That is, you cannot consider a belief true if the justification for that belief is only subjective. Well, you could, but it would only be true to you. 

So nothing stops a party from insisting that they have knowledge. But we can certainly determine if their belief is properly objectively justified. Perhaps objectively is this fourth essential component to the definition. 

So you are absolutely right, Tom. There is an event or state 13.78 billion years ago of which we do not have any knowledge. We cannot define it. It is a great "I don't know". But that event itself lies beyond the theory of discussion, the Big Bang, which does not suggest any particulars about the event itself. It covers the expansion of the cosmos from about one Planck second after this event to the present. 

So when we are talking about what came before this first Planck second, we either maintain that the question is meaningless (as time itself has might have no meaning before that point and thus the term before also has no meaning) OR we should just say 'I don't know.' As a non-cosmologist and someone not actively working on any hypothesis, the latter is the most honest of these two options as time might have meaning in some weird transcendent sense. 

Excellent questions, Tom.

Thank you, Gregory.

Are you equating creation science and intelligent design to invention? Assertion would be more accurate....

You conservative folk are so literal-minded. All the good stuff--irony, metaphor, and especially satire goes right past you.

More later; in a few hours I have a writers group to prepare for. Whoops, for which to prepare.

Paraphrased from Winston Churchill: The grammatical rule prohibiting the ending of a sentence with a preposition is a shibboleth "up with which I will not put."

Then there is this snippet of dialogue from Designing Women:

"Where y'all from?"

"We are from a place where one doesn't end a sentence with a preposition."

"Where y'all from, bitch?"


Love it.

Well put, Loren.

"I don't know ... and Neither Do You!"  I love that reply!

Well said. The point is to be comfortable not knowing. There is a surreal freedom in having that ability.

If you like that, then you're gonna LOVE what Richard Feynman has to say about not knowing!

I am already aware. Feynman is incredible. It is interesting that sometimes the best philosophy comes from scientists, whereas almost exclusively the worst philosophy comes from religion. This seems to indicate which type of thinker gets closest to truth.

And the lengthiest philosophy, with the longest words, comes from philosophers.

And, whatever its starting point, each philosophy ends where the philosopher is.


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