Can materialistic science answer life’s big questions? |317| by Laird Shaw | May 27 | Spirituality Please Share Share on Twitter Science is notorious bad at answering life’s big questions, but can the methods of science bring us closer to truth? photo by: Marcello Maria Perongini [NOTE: Larid Shaw has authored this terrific post synthesizing many contributions from Skeptiko-Forum participants. Please join us on the forum to continue this discussion.] Sixteen years ago, I was immersed in a crisis of dark encounters that defied conventional explanation. The voices and negative entities that surrounded me became my reality… and my confusion. As disturbing as this experience was, it got me questioning the nature of existence. What was the truth of my situation, and of the greater metaphysical reality that I was encountering? Even before these experiences, I had wanted to know the truth about reality. But after them, there was so much more that the truth had to account for. I am – and have been since as early as I can remember – a fan of rational thought as a means of approaching such questions: rational thought as a broadly “scientific” endeavour; as a generally critical, systematic and methodical approach, extending beyond just repeatable experiments, and – especially where physical experiments are not possible – into thought experiments, into asking critical questions, into probing for inconsistencies, and into comparing models with one another to see which best fits what we know about reality. In this blog post, I adapt an aspect of this scientific approach to one of “the big questions.” I use model-fitting, identifying a set of data for which to account, identifying various models to which to fit that data, assessing both the internal consistency of each model as well as how well it fits the data, and then (which this blog post does not cover) adjusting the models as necessary, and seeing whether they make any new predictions that we can test. The aim of this blog post is to sketch the approach so that others on the Skeptiko forum (and beyond) are inspired to get on board, and to collaborate on a “reality modelling and comparison” project.