You make it sound like all of modern science is able to always accurately predict physical events. This is not the case.
Yes, it but science does much better at predicting these things than any other field of human knowledge. Do you know of anyone who is better at this than scientists are? You're very critical, but can you do these things better than a scientist could?
You have the good sense to allow Buddhists into your strictly distinguished group of accurate predictors. However, your original point above was someone who can predict the outcome of many natural events successfully. Generally speaking Buddhist thought neither attempts to or has an interest in such things.
But Buddhists have to deal with the world of human behavior because their goal is to teach humans Buddhism, so they make valuable observations about human behavior while doing this.
I recognize the validity of science and the applications it has. Unfortunately not every theory in what we call "science" allows for accurate predictions.
Those experimentally-proven theories of the physical sciences certainly allow for accurate predictions
I said, "...not every
theory in what we call "science" allows for accurate predictions".
Okay, if you want to get picky, who is calling it "science"? If you call "science" anything which any person at some time has correctly or incorrectly called "science," then yes, your definition will be quite broad and full of garbage which even most practicing scientists wouldn't call "science."
The predictions of the physical sciences are accurate to a breath-taking degree.
The most obvious examples are found in astronomy where there is only observation and not reproduction of phenomena.
It depends what is being studied. Sometimes observation is enough. If predict that a certain star will be at a certain place at a certain time based on your equations, and then you observe that the star was at exactly that place at that time, then that is one piece of evidence in favor of your equations. The more accurately your predictions match with observation, the more likely it is that you are correct, especially if you make many predictions over a long period of time.
This is different from deep cosmological things like the Big Bang which can't be observed or created in the lab.
Modern day economics tends to be elitist and the theories and results tailored to suit the desires of the bourgeoisie. They like to predict growth in abstract and entirely subjective categories like GDP while ignoring environmental destruction and the emotional well-being of people. The latter two are objectively real but are conveniently ignored in favour of entirely subjective categories.
I agree with you. I was trying to say that the social sciences are generally more "wishy-washy" and less reliable than the physical sciences. But we can't write an equation which will perfectly predict human behavior, so the social sciences are the best we've got (along with Buddhism).
You're talking about overall progress for humanity as a whole, but I think it's useful to break down overall progress into components. For example, I think that scientific progress and ethical progress are two different things.
You can't separate the two just because it becomes inconvenient and undesirable when considering the implications of scientific development sans spiritual-ethical cultivation.
It's not a matter convenience; it's matter of clarity. I was just trying to illustrate the distinction between the people who have the skills to significantly impact the world and those who do not. I emphasized this because you basically asked why scientists have so much credibility. They have that credibility because they can prove they are right through experiments and observations. Most other people talk all day long, but can't prove anything with any degree of definiteness.
Scientific development is only as good as the people who pass on the torch to future generations.
The same argument is basically given in favour of private gun ownership -- guns don't kill people, people kill people, so why disallow the citizenry from owning as many firearms as they wish?
Because people can't be trusted because most of them are not Bodhisattvas. It doesn't take much for an ordinary person to become very angry.
Scientific progress is basically progress in our ability to predict observable events and progress in our ability to understand how the natural world functions (which often allows us to build better machines).
Since we live in a dangerous world and have fragile bodies, prediction is one of the most important abilities of our brains. Science is a component of human culture which allows for the storage and accumulation of this knowledge over the span of generations.
You've made a value judgement here -- that increased ability to predict observable events is good because we live in a dangerous world where such an ability preserves our fragile bodies -- despite insisting above that, "that scientific progress and ethical progress are two different things."
I just stuck to common sense. Our brains aren't designed to find the slowest and worst solutions to a given situation. Would you rather fall face-first into a swamp or walk around it?
If I'm assuming anything, it's that protecting one's body is "good"--I don't think this is too controversial. Occasionally, a bodhisattva may sacrifice his or her body, but that's a rare situation.
The Native Americans lived peacefully and in harmony with their environment just fine without washing machines or laptops because of their highly developed ethics combined with their understanding of nature (one could call this very basic science). But if they had not understood nature at all, they would have just starved, froze, and died.
Who exactly were the "Native Americans" in pre-modern times...?
I meant the indigenous peoples who lived in North America before the Europeans arrived.
and were they some singular homogeneous culture? A lot of Japanese people like to say the same thing about themselves: "We Japanese have always lived in harmony with nature!" Meanwhile they tear up the countryside and plaster cement across perfectly fine and stable mountainsides to artificially create jobs.
If you're skeptical about the Native Americans, then research them. They didn't have the technology to tear up the countryside.
2) Scientists who can predict most events accurately.
Let's see them predict the big bang.
A large number of physical events minus one is still a large number of physical events. Science can predict a lot, even though it can't predict everything.
Nonsense. Countless Buddhist masters past and present had little knowledge of science and were well able to decide for themselves with their own knowledge on what was best for themselves and their communities.
Yes, I agree. In my previous post, I was trying to say that I think that both Buddhists and scientists have a special category of knowledge because their theories about reality are accurate. This gives them a unique amount of power. A painter or a diplomat won't find be able to create a new vaccine.
3) Philosophers who just talk and talk and who accomplish nothing. Their ideas rarely result in either ethical progress or in scientific progress. Of course, here I don't mean Buddhist philosophers, who do promote the useful ideas of a useful religious tradition. I am talking about western philosophers who just like to play word games and display their intellects.
It also tends to influence the direction a culture takes. For example existentialism and nihilism trickles into the populace and has them thinking it is most realistic to believe life is entirely meaningless and anything you feel or perceive is essentially without value or purpose.
You're describing changing fashions and not any kind of cumulative progress. It's more like art: in one century, they liked this type of painting; in another, they preferred that type of painting. But which painting is "better"? It's just subjective. Whereas Einstein's theory of relativity was clearly better than the preceding theories about light, space, and time because it explained more.
Science can't transcend the relative, but it gets closer to absolute truth than any other western field of study. It also provides a good way of thinking logically about things, so one can avoid being tricked and cheated.