Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds Ever since human beings have been capable of thought, we have asked big questions about how the world around us works. Some people have thought that there is another reality beyond the one we can perceive through our normal senses – a supernatural world where there might be ghosts and goblins, gods and demons. They have thought that knowledge can come from this source – from supernatural revelations, prophetic visions or divinely inspired books. Others have thought that the way to learn is by observing the world around us carefully and in detail, forming ideas about why things behave as they do, testing those ideas through experiments, refining them in the light of experience, then testing them again.
Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds Out of all the various methods that people have tried to use to find out how the world works, observation, experimentation and the testing of theories against evidence has the best track-record. Prophets have predicted the end of the world on many occasions, but we are still here. Ancient holy books contain a description of the universe which has turned out to be totally inaccurate. If asked to choose between taking a medicine prescribed by a doctor whose methods are based on experiment and one who has selected medicine for you based on his visions, you will probably not choose the medicine from the vision. We may never know everything.
Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds But the testing of theories against evidence has proved itself again and again to be a reliable way to gain any knowledge about how the world around us works. Through science we have cured deadly diseases, created amazing technologies, and learned things about the universe that fill us with wonder. When we want to know what’s true and what is false, there is no better method.
How do we know what is true?
This video provides a short introduction to the value humanists place on science as the best method we have for understanding the world.