Stochasticism: A Profound Knowledge
This website began over concern that young people in the United States were turning away from science because of conflicts with religion. The dichotomy between science and religion seemed false to me. The founding fathers of the United States had resolved a similar conflict through the doctrine of Deism, the belief that nature was an expression of God and that science offered a way to understand God.
As science developed in the twentieth century, a separate dichotomy arose with the doctrine of empiricism. Empiricism expressed that truth arose through the senses, and that our beliefs must reconcile with our observations of the universe. Empiricism became epitomized by the uncertainty of Quantum Mechanics and the relativism of Einstein's theories. This epitomy became a fixation for those who blamed the fear and moral contradictions of the atomic bomb on science.
The new dichotomy arose over the moral legitimacy of science. Religion offered a seeming central pole for belief which science seemingly did not. I say seemingly because in fact science had developed its own God equivalent, one that not only provided the central focus for people's ordinary lives, but one which could be discerned even in the writings of the ancients. This science lacked a towering mushroom cloud to announce its presence, and therefore remained in obscurity for the average person. In essence, Stochasticism offers a new paradigm for interpreting the world in a way which reconciles science and religion.
Fundamentally, this website is about what statistical management expert W. Edwards Deming called "Profound Knowledge." Deming described Profound Knowledge as consisting of four pillars:
- An understanding of systems in terms of Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory
- An understanding of variation in terms of Galton's bell-curve and six sigma.
- An understanding of a Theory of Knowledge in terms of rational positivism
- An understanding of psychology in terms of human motivation
General Systems Theory was developed in the 1920s and 1930s by biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy to explain certain phenomena common to living systems. A similar concept, called Cybernetics, was developed after World War Two to explain complex servo-mechanism control systems. Chemist Ilya Prigogine later won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating similar concepts in chemical processes known as dissipative structures. All involve self-influencing feedback networks which establish a steady state that is resistant to change.
The word stochastic is synonymous with the normal bell-curve. Stochastic means both non-absolute and non-random reflecting that values cluster around a central tendency. Stochasticism requires an understanding of optimality and the concept of uncertain truth. All things are subject to two types of error, that of believing something that is false, and that of not believing something that is true. In mathematical statistics these two errors are related such that minimizing one increases the other. As a consequence, there is only optimality in the choices we make. There is no absolute truth, only a stochastic perception of reality.
These two types of error, called Type One and Type Two in statistical science, can be found throughout society. In religion, there are those who lose all credulity, in essence believing things that are false in order to not exclude some truth, and there are nihilists and atheists who believe all things are false in order to avoid believing in something that is false. The reality is that the more one tries to exclude the chance of accepting something that is false, the greater one increases the chance of accepting something that is false. And vice versa. Stocasticism recognizes this and considers all things in terms of their probability of truth.
A theory of knowledge involves two separate concepts that are connected through experiment. The first concept involves identifying and classifying empirical phenomena into a taxonomy. The second involves the creation of a theoretical construct which mimics the taxonomy. In essence, the taxonomy represents the elements of a system while the theoretical construct represents the process. The taxonomy and its theoretical construct must be linked through procedural experiments that show how the taxonomy and theory match.
The science of knowledge therefore consists of three branches, empirical science involved in discovery and classification, theoretical science involved in developing mathematical and logical models to mimic empirical taxonomies, and experimental science which derives procedures for testing hypotheses from theory that explain the phenomena within the taxonomies. A theory of knowledge is essentially a railroad track into understanding with the two rails of empirical taxonomy and constructed theory tied together by experimental procedures.
Psychology explains how people respond to circumstances in their environment. It primarily involves how and why people behave the way they typically do and what motivates them to do it. Psychology has moved away from a Freudian concept of conflicting ideas into a brain chemistry concept of physical activity. Neuropsychology is dominated today by Edelman's theory of neuronal group selection (Edelman, 1988) which itself involves a systems theoretical explanation of consciousness. Yet the focus of psychology remains on explaining how to enhance people's interaction with their environment.
Stochasticism provides a way of understanding both science and religion as two sides of a common human conception. The common observation of a spirit, or vital force, can now be explained in terms of General Systems Theory as that which manifests itself in the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The "will of God" and the idea of providence can be easily described in terms of bell-curve stochastics.
Indeed, once understood, it is easy to see that Stochasticism reveals what many ancient writings were trying to explain. We can see that religious beliefs, even primitive beliefs, far from being ignorant or obsolete, are simply misunderstood because of the vague language used by the ancients to explain what we now have more precise language to explain. The knowledge of religion within stochasticism is equivalent to Newton's laws in Einstein's theories. Einstein did not "disprove" Newton nor discredit him.
For example, the precession of the orbit of Mercury was unexplained by Newtonian physics in terms of the mass of the sun and the mass of Mercury. What Einstein demonstrated was that this error in Newtonian physics could be explained by including the equivalent mass of the energy of sun, according to his well-known E=mc2. As such, Einstein showed how Newton's equations were correct but merely ignorant of the mass contained in the energy. Einstein's theories illuminated Newton's laws in greater detail, explaining observed discrepancies in ways that subsumed Newton as special cases. As such, as we will see, modern stochastic science does not "disprove" religion or discredit it, but rather illuminates it in greater detail.
In essence, Stochasticism reflects that there are two domains to existence: the positive and normative domains. Science comprises the positive domain of empirical reality, whereas religion comprises the normative domain of behavioral reality. In other words, positive science tells us what we can or cannot do in reality, while religion tells us what we should or should not do in morality. The two domains represent the two sides of the coin of our existence rather than disparate realms.
Top of Page
Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.