Theoretical vs. Empirical

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

(Romans 8:24-25) NKJV

Theoretical and empirical are opposites, like dark and light. Empirical means verified by direct observation. Theoretical can’t be seen, it’s what we hope for, which is why we became a scientist.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

(Hebrews 11:1) KJV

By a remarkable twist of irony, we’re able to show that theory is the scientific word for faith. In a very real sense theoretical and empirical are synonyms for truth and error, but there are parallels with opposites in state, usage, concept and condition.

StateUsageConceptConditionScientific
Visibleseensighttemporaryempirical
Invisiblenot seenfaitheternaltheoretical
– Synonyms and Conditions of Visible and Invisible.

One example of how truth and error are mingled together in SciPop is the broad issue of evolution. On one hand, the process of evolution, genetic change over time, is extensively documented, it’s empirical. On the other hand the theory of evolution, an induced narrative for the origin of humanity, isn’t documented, it’s theoretical.

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

(Ecclesiastes 4:4) ESV

There’s another incredible irony in which we see something called Popper’s paradox. You may have noticed that SciPop is in continual flux and every week there’s another gushing editorial about how some bright spark in a university somewhere has made a discovery which will “rewrite the textbooks” of that particular subject area. It happens all the time, it’s become a cliché. The problem, in part, is that theoretical science is the life blood of any industry where newness and innovation are necessary. You can’t make a career by proudly proclaiming that your predecessors work is adequate and needs no revision. SciPop has to be in constant flux, it can never be settled. This is one reason why SciPop and the truth are mutually exclusive: the truth is absolute, unchanging.

  1. Truth
    • absolute, unchanging.
  2. Popular science (SciPop)
    • relative, continually in flux.

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