A Law Is A Law Until It Is No Longer A Law
What we are building up to is the fact that the law of gravity is called a "law" because, in billions and billions of observations, not once has any documented event occurred where two objects did not attract each other in precisely the way predicted (we now know that gravity may not behave exactly as Newton thought, but like Newton predicted, objects do attract one another in the sense that the theory of general relativity tells us that the gravitational effect "moves" objects toward one another). We can say with an absolutely incredible degree of statistical certainty that the gravitational "force" between two objects will always cause them to be attracted toward one another. At this point in time there is probably less than one chance in l,000,000,000,000,000,000 x 10 raised to the 1,000,000,000,000,000th power that gravity will not act essentially as expected. Yet, despite the incredible certainty of gravity, we do not and cannot know whether it is or is not possible for one contrary event to occur, and thus for the law of gravity to be proven wrong!
I am not suggesting the law of gravity is incorrect and that an event whereby it is proven wrong will ever occur. In fact I would be surprised if any of the basic scientific laws of the universe are fundamentally wrong. What I am saying is no matter how many times something has been observed to be true, no matter how incredibly unlikely it is an unexpected event will occur, we have no way of knowing if such an event is possible or impossible! If the unexpected event is not possible, it will never occur, and it will never be observed. If the event is possible, and if it does occur, then it has happened, period.
We must remember it is not the "law" which makes objects behave in a certain way, fundamental forces far beyond human comprehension do that. Rather the law describes the behavior and remains valid and true only until a single unexpected observation proves it wrong. Actually the law remains only apparently valid and true, if it is later proven wrong its former truth was an illusion. The law was in fact always false. "Modifying" a theory to better fit the observations does not help render the original theory true, rather it creates a new theory that is itself either true or false. Since scientific theories are tested by observation, they are true if and only if each and every event they describe and predict, from the beginning of the universe to the end, in fact occurs exactly as expected. Theories, no matter how solid they might seem, must be discarded as false the very first time they fail to describe real events.
Science is based on observation, formulation of theories, and more observation. To observe necessarily requires the ability to perceive - to sense, feel, smell, touch, taste, see, hear. Early humans used all their senses to explore the world around them. When human senses proved inadequate, they devised better and better tools and instruments to extend their range. Microscopes and telescopes to expand vision, stethoscopes and amplifiers to increase hearing, plus thousands of other sensitive devices to enhance the senses.
The catalog of devices used to expand our human senses is enormous and growing by the minute, yet all the instruments of humankind can do no more than extend the reach of humans into the universe of which they and their instruments are a part. We know of three spatial dimensions, height, width, depth, and a forth dimension, time (which may also prove to be spatial in nature). Space (height, width, depth), and “time” all exist together as space-time and cannot exist alone. Is there a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth dimension? No one knows, for if they exist they appear to be separate and beyond human ability to sense, measure, and thus scientifically prove.
Does that mean those dimensions do not exist, the answer is no. Mathematicians and physicists use formulas to describe sub-atomic phenomena (e.g. - string theory) that can be interpreted as happening in multidimensional space. If a fifth dimension exists, it exists. If a fifth dimension does not exist, it does not exist. This is true regardless whether we can, or never can, observe that dimension and, of course, is true for any sixth dimension, seventh dimension, eighth dimension, etc. It is important to realize that no matter how many dimensions are eventually observed, one or more additional dimensions may or may not exist beyond human ability to observe.
Many of you are saying to yourselves it is one thing to say that a dimension beyond human ability to observe may exist, but an entirely different thing to say that one probably does. You are right. Most of you will go on to say it is highly improbable, maybe less than one chance in a trillion, that even one more dimension exists beyond the observable number of dimensions, however many that may eventually prove to be. If you think that, you are wrong. To be able to statistically predict the likelihood of an event happening we must first observe to see how often the event occurs during a given period of time. If we cannot observe the event when it occurs, we cannot determine how often it happens (or conversely, does not happen) and we cannot predict the likelihood of the event.
One problem with recognizing the limitations of statistical analysis is understanding the difference between not observing an event where the event watched for can be observed, and not observing an event where the event cannot be observed because it is beyond human ability to sense. The first, not observing an event which could be seen, leads to the statistically valid conclusion that the event is unlikely to occur. The second, not observing an event which is beyond human ability to perceive, cannot lead to any conclusion at all about the reality of that event. Yet it appears to be human nature to assume that things which have never been observed do not exist, or at best are highly unlikely to exist.
If something exists beyond human perception it will never be observed during our physical lifetimes. If you cannot measure something because it is beyond human perception you cannot prove it exists, on the other hand you cannot prove that it does not exist! More importantly, you cannot say that it is statistically likely or unlikely that it exists. You simply cannot say anything objective at all about that which is beyond human ability to observe.
It is very, very important to realize that it is absolutely impossible to say that it is either likely or unlikely something exists beyond human observation. We simply cannot determine in any way the probability that something exists, or does not exist, beyond our observable universe. To understand the significance of this often overlooked statement is to understand that we have no idea what, if anything, lies beyond our cognitive boundaries.
A moments thought should bring the realization that this absolute limit of statistics and science renders all "scientific proof", as well as subjective feelings, that nothing exists beyond our perception into feeble "philosophic arguments". Despite what science might claim to have "proven", and despite what we might "feel", about what lies beyond our ability to observe, we cannot say anything objective about that which is beyond human perception. We may create mathematical models of what should lie somewhere just beyond observation, yet without a means of testing these projections they can never be more than idle speculation. We simply cannot say that it is likely, or not likely, that a "world" or "worlds" exist beyond the physical world in which we live. From an analytical standpoint anything, or nothing, may exist beyond human cognition.
Human beings are limited to observing the effects of fundamental forces on matter and energy, and must draw conclusions based only on such observations. We can never "view" the forces themselves, forces whose metaphysical existence and purpose transcend human observation and comprehension. One of the consequences of being only a small part of the universe in which we live is the absolute fact that, unless revealed to us by the whole, we can never know if something or someone exists beyond the limits of our senses. No one, not you nor I nor the smartest person on earth can determine whether or not anything exists beyond that which we can observe. It follows that we cannot know if someone or something beyond our ability to perceive can and will alter the laws which govern our world.
The significance of the continued possibility that an unexpected event will occur to disprove even the best of theories, and the very fact such a possibility will always exist, renders it impossible to "prove" anything to be absolutely true or false. Since even the most incredibly supported "laws" are always subject to being disproved by the happening of a single contrary event, all laws and theorems and common sense proofs are subject to being disproved. Fundamental precepts that apples fall, water flows, fire burns, may all be disproved by future events.
Our limitations not only prevent us from exploring that which is beyond human perception, but also add to all human observations a degree of uncertainty that cannot be overcome. We can never say with total certainty that anything is true, or for that matter, untrue. In this age of science it is hard for those who have not studied the scientific method in its most intricate details to understand that, because it is a tool of human beings, it is necessarily limited in its application by the limits of human comprehension and understanding.
It is even harder to accept that, since we are only a part of the whole universe, we can never determine by ourselves what the entire universe is like. A part of something never knows what the whole is like unless the whole makes itself known to the part. We can never know what is true unless the truth is revealed to us. Being a part of the whole means that every law we construct must be built from unprovable assumptions, assumptions that may or may not hold true in the future. We can never know if something or someone outside our perception, perhaps greater than the whole, will alter all or part of what we observe, rendering untrue in an instant the very best of our proofs.
Of course, if underlying forces do exist, are not changed, and require the predicted behavior, then the laws never can and never will be disproved. Apples will fall, water will flow, fire will burn, etc. However, that does not alter the fact that it is, and always will be, beyond human ability to "prove" anything. There is absolutely no way human beings can determine if fundamental forces exist that will never change. We simply cannot determine if it is possible, or if it is not possible, for a contrary event to occur. We can never be certain that contrary events will not happen, we can never prove that anything is absolutely "true".