Re: Ch. 1: Rewriting the Ten Commandments
The problem here is that we can know some of the properties of a substance but not all. For example, water is made of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. There is abundant scientific information which allows no explanation other than factual accurate certain knowledge. The simpler the information the clearer is our justification in classing it as knowledge rather than belief.
I am not sure if there are areas of research regarding the properties of water, but one that comes to mind regarding a belief is homeopathy, the idea that water can retain mystical traces of another substance it previously contained. There is no evidence in support of this belief, and it has been supported up to the level of the British royalty. I am not sure if homeopathic claims can be definitively disproved, but they illustrate the hold of Shakespeare's line that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
Another issue here is that while the physics of water is a matter of scientific knowledge, I have not myself studied the science in sufficient depth to explain things like quantum physics, or even the basic physics of the properties of subatomic particles and how water physically forms. Yet so much technology rests on the correctness of this basic science that I have no alternative but to say it is objective knowledge and not mere belief.
I know the boiling and freezing points of water from memory, but I don't know these same facts for other chemicals and elements. Nonetheless all this information is basic unchanging knowledge about the fundamental properties of matter which anyone can easily find. We really should consider basic science to be absolute knowledge, while recognising that there is much that is unknown, and is therefore only the subject of conjecture or belief or ignorance.