Letter to the Editor

By Jared Walker

Editor:

While browsing through the paper Feb. 27, I had a chance to read Carlos Ponce?s, ?A Paradox That Must Be Hard to Live With.?

Mr. Ponce asserts that claims about truth based on science have greater truth-value than those based on faith. When talking about truth, it is helpful to differentiate between two types of truth. First, there is truth that is attainable by scientific facts.

This truth, says Stephen Hawking, “describes how.” Second, there is truth that “explains why.” It is truth of this kind that lies outside the realms of science. Mr. Ponce uses the “dragon in the garage” analogy to illustrate the absurdity of truth claims not corroborated by empirical evidence.

This seems to be an indirect reference to belief in a Supreme Being. I suggest that the “dragon in the garage” analogy simplifies and misrepresents the circumstances of faith-based truth claims. I prefer the “key in the building” analogy.

Imagine that I am in possession of the keys to the J. Willard Marriott Library. I am going to hide the keys somewhere in the building. For you to prove that the keys do not exist, you must search the entire building and not find them there.

You quickly discover, however, that not only must you search the entire building, but you must do so simultaneously lest, while you are searching one part of the building, some one moves the keys to a different place.

The man who hastily claims there are no keys reminds me all too much of the Russian cosmonauts who, upon arriving in space and finding no God there, triumphantly proclaimed, “You see, there is no God!”

Scientists abandoned logical positivism (the “I-have-to-see-it to-believe-it mentality” used in Carl Sagan?s dragon analogy) long ago when it came into conflict with nuclear physics.

How could physicists justifiably study what they could not see?atomic and subatomic particles? It was apparent that one had to go, and it was positivism.

Beside the impracticality of positivism, the history of science can speak for itself: First space was flat, then it was curved, now its flat again.

So which is it? Well, I guess its flat for now. Yet, science has still failed to prove there is no dragon in the garage, no key in the building, and no God somewhere in the universe.

In response to Mr. Ponce?s statement, “I am curious about the folks out there who work in science and yet easily believe in the dragons. How do they do it? How can they practice the method of science?on weekdays and then turn off the skepticism part on the weekends?”

With the statement “a paradox that must be hard to live with,? a quote comes to mind: “I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes” (Maxine Hong Kingston).

Jared Walker

Junior, Political Science