Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Methods for finding Truth

Once we understand what it is we are discussing, how can we discover if it’s true? Are there any ways to discriminate between truth and non-truth?

The Scientific Method is one possible way. The Scientific Method, is, of course, mostly just a fancy way of saying that we are looking at and analyzing evidence, to find the conclusions supported by this evidence.

Faith has been proposed as another way to find truth.
I’ve heard it said that there are many paths to truth, and faith is one. Or that faith is a different path to knowing. What exactly is faith? And how does it differ from the scientific method in discriminating truth from non-truth?

The word Faith has many definitions. It has come to have subtle secondary meanings such as trust and hope, but what does faith mean apart from these other well defined terms.

The primary definition of Faith, is believing that something is true. Period. Faith requires no proof. It is a personal decision.

The problem with this, is that if we are trying to discriminate between truth and non-truth, and the method you’re using determines truth by simply stating something is believed to be true, then anything can be determined to be true, simply by asserting that it is. This is literally saying “Because I say so”.

This seems obviously inadequate.

This leaves me, with the scientific method, as the only method for differentiating truth from non-truth. Is there any other way?

25 comments:

kfawell said...

First, I want to add that I think that is important to note that the Scientific Method also includes peer review and criticism. In fact, I think this is vital. For me, I have gotten the point where if someone presents an idea without an expert's criticism, they are only telling a half truth at best. Many, many times I have heard some argument that I thought sounded good only later to hear a criticism that revealed how much I did not consider. My original favortable view often changed. Surely getting a criticism is my responsibility (as demonstrated time and time again). I think it is even more the responsibility of the presenter to have already done the research to find existing criticism or seek out someone who would likely argue against them and get that information.

A similar thing to this is that a person who is criticizing an idea had better understand the idea. Often this takes talking to an expert. A common and relevant example is how some religious people argue against evolution by intentionally or accidentally using straw-men arguments. The claim that evolution is wrong because evolution implies point A, and point A is either untrue or rediculous. However, when I hear their point A, I know they don't understand evolution. For example, the canonical example is that watch cannot be made by chance, so there must be a designer. An eye is even more complicated than a watch, so clearly there must be a designer, so evolution is wrong.

Both of these are standard problems that scientific method addresses by requiring ideas and criticisms being reviewed.

I mention this because you wrote, "The Scientific Method, is, of course, mostly just a fancy way of saying that we are looking at and analyzing evidence, to find the conclusions supported by this evidence." That is sort of true but does not address one of the tough parts, that is, what is relevant evidence and how does it converge or diverge from a claim.

So now I can ask you if there other ways that are can differentiate truth from non-truth. Have you done some research on such methods? Are there any limits of the scientific method such that it is known to unusable for finding the truth of certain problems? (I want to exclude problems for which there seems to be no way to determine the truth.) I know you ask the question, but I just checking to see if you have done any looking around.

Let me make it clear that I think the scientific method is best and most reliable system for determining the truth. There are shortcuts though. For example, we often determine the truth of things without using peer review. For example, I just switched a battery that I believed was dead. I put a new one in and the toy worked. No peer review. No exploration of other hypothesises.

Finally, let me address faith. I think faith is belief in something. That something could be true or false, reasonably supported or discounted by evidence, common sense or extraordinary. It is a common way humans view the world. I think faiths are often not critically examined at all.

You have already asked the questions do they see the difference between faith and fact? How about do they even understand what a fact is and how that term is commonly used in science and law? Do they appreciate why it is used the way it is? Do they even care? If they accept that difference, would they then agree that they should not depend on faith?

I suspect that just getting someone to admit that faith is any different from science is going to be hard. And even getting that, getting them to realize that faith means nothing at all in terms of evidence is probably an even bigger step.

I think they will often be stuck on this point. Without a belief in God, what else is there? They will "know" that without God, there is nothing and no meaning and no sigificance? And life does not have no meaning, so therefore, there must be God.

Such thinking could be so ingrained and such an impediment that they will be almost unable to understand the difference between faith and reason.

Mic said...

kfawell said...

First, I want to add that I think that is important to note that the Scientific Method also includes peer review and criticism. In fact, I think this is vital. For me, I have gotten the point where if someone presents an idea without an expert's criticism, they are only telling a half truth at best. Many, many times I have heard some argument that I thought sounded good only later to hear a criticism that revealed how much I did not consider. My original favortable view often changed. Surely getting a criticism is my responsibility (as demonstrated time and time again). I think it is even more the responsibility of the presenter to have already done the research to find existing criticism or seek out someone who would likely argue against them and get that information.


I don't disagree, but I'm not talking about fine nuances of quantum theory here.

Here's a question: If I tell you I have a $20 bill in my wallet, do you believe me? Well you don't actually KNOW, but you may believe me anyway, because you know me, and you don't have any reason to think that I'm lying. But all I have to do is open my wallet and take out a $20 bill as evidence, to prove the Truth of the statement. No peer review required.

My point in this post is not to argue what constitutes evidence, but to determine if an entirely different method of determining truth exists.


A similar thing to this is that a person who is criticizing an idea had better understand the idea. Often this takes talking to an expert. A common and relevant example is how some religious people argue against evolution by intentionally or accidentally using straw-men arguments. The claim that evolution is wrong because evolution implies point A, and point A is either untrue or rediculous. However, when I hear their point A, I know they don't understand evolution. For example, the canonical example is that watch cannot be made by chance, so there must be a designer. An eye is even more complicated than a watch, so clearly there must be a designer, so evolution is wrong.

Both of these are standard problems that scientific method addresses by requiring ideas and criticisms being reviewed.

I mention this because you wrote, "The Scientific Method, is, of course, mostly just a fancy way of saying that we are looking at and analyzing evidence, to find the conclusions supported by this evidence." That is sort of true but does not address one of the tough parts, that is, what is relevant evidence and how does it converge or diverge from a claim.


Again we agree, but again, I'm not trying to determine what constitutes good evidence here, but if in the absence of evidence, one can determine what is true.


So now I can ask you if there other ways that are can differentiate truth from non-truth. Have you done some research on such methods? Are there any limits of the scientific method such that it is known to unusable for finding the truth of certain problems? (I want to exclude problems for which there seems to be no way to determine the truth.) I know you ask the question, but I just checking to see if you have done any looking around.

I have. Faith as I said is one postulated method, but it seems clearly circular to me, as I stated in my post. In Eastern philosophies, I have heard it said that introspection, and a reduction in the sense of a self can result in the revelation of "cosmic truths". While these physical and mental "exercises" may result in ideas by way of contemplative thought, and new perspectives on ones' place in the universe, I'm equally unconvinced that any new way of determining truth is found there.

The conclusion that I seem to be coming to is an astonishing one. I would seem that the scientific method is the ONLY POSSIBLE way of discriminating truth from non-truth. This seems fairly tough to swallow, and it ignores the obvious "correctly applied" caveat, but it seems to me as evident as the fact that we can not acquire knowledge without input from our senses.


I suspect that just getting someone to admit that faith is any different from science is going to be hard. And even getting that, getting them to realize that faith means nothing at all in terms of evidence is probably an even bigger step.

I'm not trying to coerce admissions that anyone is wrong about anything here. I honestly want simply to explore the question of what the methods are for determining truth. Look, if there's a god, I want to know about it. That would be an amazing thing to know. But to know something implies it is true, and to be true requires a methods for that determination.

aisme said...

Nice blog and your ideas are very interesting too. I will need read all the posts first before making any comments.

Thank you for inviting me to comment. I know you would agree that there is no cause for alarm between two people with different views so long as it is without bitterness and hatred. But since my views are so different, am I still welcome?

Mike said...

aisme said...
I know you would agree that there is no cause for alarm between two people with different views so long as it is without bitterness and hatred.


I do agree, but I have to say that I do think there are consequences to the way we view the world, and these would include death and suffering. I want to try to reduce this to the extent possible, and that's why I started doing this.

But since my views are so different, am I still welcome?

Yes, that's really the point. I can find people who agree with me all day. I work with a lot of Liberals, so I'm often the most Conservative person in the room if you can believe that!

aisme said...

Mike said...
But we may still know we are correct.


Correction:
But we may still believe we are correct.

If we are going to engage in constructive dialogue, let’s start with:

The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.’ … Einstein.

Any good scientist always starts with this premise. If we can't, than there will be no dialogue, because we will both be wasting our time. Are you in agreement?

Mike said...

aisme said...

Mike said...
But we may still know we are correct.

Correction:
But we may still believe we are correct.


Yes, you are right, and I understand your objection, but I was using the word "know" (in quotes), to indicate, the subjective viewpoint, or what someone "claims" to know. Everything that you claim to "know", you also "believe", right? The reverse is not so simple. If you believe something, and you are positive, to you it feels that you "know" it. An extreme example would be John Nash (subject of the movie; A Beautiful Mind). He "knew" his friends existed, even though it was objectively clear to outside observers that they were not real. A suicide bomber "knows" he will get 70 virgins in paradise, even though you and I would say he "only" believes this to be true, and can't "know" it, because it isn't true. But to HIM, he "knows" it.
My point here, is that we all feel that we "know" things, and we may feel positive about them, but some of these things are in fact false.
On the other hand, if you believe something, and you are not positive, then you do not "know" it, but simply believe it to some certainty (<100%).


If we are going to engage in constructive dialogue, let’s start with:

The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.’ … Einstein.

Uh, I'm not sure where you're going with this. The statement is a comedic rhetorical one. Like saying; "Everytime I learn something new, there are more details about it to be learned". It is obviously not intended to mean that the number of things not known somehow increases proportionally with the number of things known.

Any good scientist always starts with this premise.

They do? I don't see the relevance, but perhaps I'm missing something in your meaning, but this statement seems suspicious to me. If you can't go further with some unequivocal agreement, that's cool.

aisme said...

An excellent answer and yes, I was trying to go somewhere with my comment and I will leave it at that for now.

You stayed on the subject matter and that’s what I like. Of course, I knew the word “know” was only to indicate a subjective viewpoint, but this time, (and forgive me for this), I was deliberately being coy. My point was to show how mind-numbing dialogue could become when we just focus on one word and not the subject at hand. In “Everyone Has Beliefs”, you made some valid points, some arguments and some statements that were worthy of a reply or rebuttal, yet all I did was focus on the correct or incorrect use of one word and therefore failed to address anything significant. Do you see where I’m going? I think we are both intelligent enough to know that words such as believe/know/faith are often compatible, yet different. I like facts and reasons and not word games. I spend enough time in a day having to be methodical.

You wrote that the purpose for this blog was to understand why people feel that faith, rather than evidence and reason, can result in beliefs that are true. Yet, you are going about it in the wrong way. This is what I meant by using the wrong method in trying to understand the subject matter. You are far too focused on the philosophical definition of words like “truth”, rather than the focal point of why people have faith. We all know that just because someone says something, doesn’t make it so, but is this a sufficient reason to eradicate any evidence or reason put forth? So, let’s move beyond the definition of words.

You say that faith requires no proof. No so. I could ask a man, “Do you have faith in your wife’s fidelity? He can answer, yes, and give me all the evidence and reasons why. He can tell me about their 30 years of marriage together and he has a lot of evidence to support such a claim. After all, he has lived with her, talked with her and knows her intimately. Is it possible that his wife is a master of deception.. maybe. But when it comes time to make that “personal choice” which one will he find more convincing?

It doesn’t seem to me that faith can assist in finding truth … our best chance at reaching truth is through reason and reasonableness.

And yet, just like truth, faith is reached though reason and reasonableness. A coincident?

This leaves me, with the scientific method as the only method for differentiating truth from non-truth.

If you are going to determine truth, only by a scientific method, you will be in deep trouble. There is no scientific method to test a scientific method, so how do you know the method is correct? And I would hate to tell you how many times a scientific method was proved wrong when a better scientific method was later discovered. After decades of scientists teaching that dinosaurs were reptiles, paleontologists felt like fools after the discovery of DNA proved them to be mammals.

Science has its place, but so does theology. A cosmic without known cause or fate is an intellectual prison. Science give man ever greater powers but ever less significance; it improves his tools and neglects his purpose; it is silent on ultimate origins, values and aims. It gives life and history no meaning or worth that is not cancelled by death or time. Only when you understand this, can you understand that there can be no real conflict between two very different orders of knowledge: science and theology.

Religion is always the last subject that the intellect begins to understand. May I ask .. do you know what theology is? Do you know its definition? Just curious.

BTW .. I rarely comment on Catholic blogs or any blogs. I usually just read the comments, but I had to comment on your post regarding FFM. Believe it or not, I found it to be one of the only few authentic comments, even if I didn’t agree. I tried to keep my comments on a general discussion, because people are often very sensitive which is why I don’t like to comment and seldom do. I would hate to tell you want I really wanted to write and didn’t. I would have been furiously attached by both liberals and conservatives; while you would have probably gotten a good chuckle.

Mike said...

aisme said...
My point was to show how mind-numbing dialogue could become when we just focus on one word and not the subject at hand. ...yet all I did was focus on the correct or incorrect use of one word and therefore failed to address anything significant. Do you see where I’m going?


Yes I do. You may not believe this, but although I created my blog many months ago, and have read some blogs before, this it really the first time I've commented on a blog, and I'm a bit taken aback at all the attention my comments have brought. I guess I'm not too surprised, as I was obviously expressing a minority viewpoint, but, man, all the pedantic drivel is just a waste of time, if you're not discussing the actual point. That said, I do think that words are very often intentionally used in such a way as to mislead. Hopefully we can try to avoid that here. By my statement: "we need to have some understanding of the idea in question.", what I was referring to was the fact that often a discussion will be happening, but the parties to the discussion haven't even agreed on the definition of the thing being discussed. This can be due to word play, and may be intentional or not, but I think it reflects a persons honesty, of lack thereof.

I think we are both intelligent enough to know that words such as believe/know/faith are often compatible, yet different. I like facts and reasons and not word games.

Then we'll get along fine. Although I wouldn't want to stipulate to my own intelligence :). Frankly, long posts/comments often make my eyes roll back in my head, because I just can't hold that much in my brain at once, but here I go about to write the longest ever.

This is what I meant by using the wrong method in trying to understand the subject matter. You are far too focused on the philosophical definition of words like “truth”,

OK, but to me, this is the end game. This is the entire point. I hope that we all have a shared purpose to believe "that which is true". The reason for the focus, is to make sure we are talking about the same thing, and that that IS in fact our goal. If our goal is NOT to reach toward truth, then I don't have a response to that.

rather than the focal point of why people have faith.

As I said in my post, I have been told by some, that faith is some sort of method to get to truth. What I don't understand, is how that could work.

We all know that just because someone says something, doesn’t make it so, but is this a sufficient reason to eradicate any evidence or reason put forth?

Of course not, but so many people just make empty assertions, which is pointless if any progress is to be made. I know I repeat myself alot on that one, but the point is to prompt someone to come up with some substance behind the rhetoric. I do however, realize that repeated use of that complaint is tantamount to saying "naw- ah" over and over. I will try to restrain myself.

So, let’s move beyond the definition of words.
You say that faith requires no proof. No so. I could ask a man, “Do you have faith in your wife’s fidelity? He can answer, yes, and give me all the evidence and reasons why. He can tell me about their 30 years of marriage together and he has a lot of evidence to support such a claim. After all, he has lived with her, talked with her and knows her intimately. Is it possible that his wife is a master of deception.. maybe. But when it comes time to make that “personal choice” which one will he find more convincing?


It wasn't me that said faith requires no proof, I'm simply repeating what I've been told by others "of faith". I have been told that faith is enough and does not rely or require proof, but I'm getting ahead of myself. And I don't want to transfer others thoughts onto you.

I WANT to move beyond definitions. As I said, I don't want to get mired down in pedantic arguments, but if we're using different definitions, we'll get nowhere. Your use in the example above is synonymous with "trust", so why not use trust? I completely agree with you here, for the sense of "faith" that you are using here. This is not my point, the definition of faith that I am using is the method by which one comes to a conclusion that one believes to represent truth. We can use what ever definition you want, but if the meaning is the one synonymous with trust, then I have no problem with that sense of "faith".

If you are going to determine truth, only by a scientific method, you will be in deep trouble.

I know of no other way, but I'm repeating myself. Can you explain in detail a reliable method for determining the truth verses the falsity of a claim without using the scientific method? But first see the scientific method discussion below.

And I would hate to tell you how many times a scientific method was proved wrong when a better scientific method was later discovered. After decades of scientists teaching that dinosaurs were reptiles, paleontologists felt like fools after the discovery of DNA proved them to be mammals.

This is false on many levels, but in the interest of not going down too many paths at once, I'm going to table this for now. I can address this in a later comment if you'd like.

There is no scientific method to test a scientific method, so how do you know the method is correct?

Very good question. Fortunately, there is a very good answer. but first I need to address your reference to "scientific methods". When I talk about the scientific method, I am not referring to a procedure used in a specialized form of a particular branch of science. What I'm talking about is referred to as "the scientific method" (singular).
The scientific method has four steps:
1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.
There are myriad places to find this information, here's one:
http://teacher.pas.rochester.edu/phy_labs/AppendixE/AppendixE.html

In plain terms, (forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know) this just means;

* You notice something (for instance, that the sky is blue)
* You make a guess about the how or why (because the sky has very tiny blue dye particles in it)
* You think of a way to test your guess (if that was true, maybe you could pull a white piece of paper behind a plane, and perhaps these particles would stick to the paper making it blue)
* You do some test to find out if your guess is right.

If the paper is gets blue, then your test supports your hypothesis, if not, then the hypothesis is 100% wrong (or the test was flawed or whatever). The point is, while the actual process of the test and such is specific to the particular thing your looking at, the "method" where you test for true or false is always the same. When you say that "There is no scientific method to test a scientific method", that's not correct, because the method tests itself. I know, you think that's circular, but it isn't. Here's why:

First an example if a circular argument (blatantly plagiarized from about.com):
You should drive on the right side of the road because that is what the law says, and the law is the law.
The reason given to follow this law is simply “because that is the law,” it is circular. You should do it because it's the law, and it's the law, so you should do it.

This is a form of a "positive feedback loop", where each thing supports the other, so it is meaningless.

But you may notice, that the scientific method is a NEGATIVE feedback loop, insomuch as if a hypothesis is disproven by a failed test, it is disproven with 100% certainty, but if it succeeds, it only "supports" the hypothesis, to a much smaller degree. The scientific method itself is the method for discerning truth in all its forms. If this method is not used, then the claim of truth is empty.

Science give man ever greater powers but ever less significance; it improves his tools and neglects his purpose;

Yeah this sounds like the "more we know, less we know" garbage we started with. Great if you're a Zen Buddhist, they love to say contradictory things to appear profound --yawn--

it is silent on ultimate origins, values and aims.

Not per se. It IS silent about "that which is not known", and does not attempt to "guess" about what is true, unless it is to go on and test such a guess using the scientific method. I find that people who claim to be faithful, often attest to know truths that are not in evidence.

It gives life and history no meaning or worth that is not cancelled by death or time.

At some level that's true. I'm sorry if that's disappointing, we can't always get what we WANT.

Only when you understand this, can you understand that there can be no real conflict between two very different orders of knowledge: science and theology.

Again, can you give me a description of a reliable method for determining the truth verses the falsity of a claim without using the scientific method?

Religion is always the last subject that the intellect begins to understand.

Oh, If I just could get a little smarter, I'd get it Huh? come on! That's just ad-hominem. Don't be a dick.

May I ask .. do you know what theology is? Do you know its definition? Just curious.

Yes, but since I'm since I'm connected to the largest repository of human knowledge to ever exist, even if I didn't, definitions are but a click away. What's your point?

BTW .. I rarely comment on Catholic blogs or any blogs. I usually just read the comments, but I had to comment on your post regarding FFM. Believe it or not, I found it to be one of the only few authentic comments, even if I didn’t agree. I tried to keep my comments on a general discussion, because people are often very sensitive which is why I don’t like to comment and seldom do. I would hate to tell you want I really wanted to write and didn’t. I would have been furiously attached by both liberals and conservatives; while you would have probably gotten a good chuckle.

Thanks. I try. I also find your arguments (mostly) good, but clearly we have basic disagreements.
I'm a Libertarian. I used to be a Republican, and I did vote for Reagan (although I regret it).

Sorry for the late reply, I have been busy. At this rate I'm going to have to quit my job so I have time for Blogging. ;-)

aisme said...

Yeah this sounds like the "more we know, less we know" garbage we started with. Great if you're a Zen Buddhist, they love to say contradictory things to appear profound --yawn--
A Zen Buddhist would never, ever, say such a thing; only a Christian would. So, let me clarify. I am not a Christian into New Age or Eastern philosophies, nor do I practice “Catholicism Lite”. Buddhism is so far removed from Christianity that I wouldn’t know where to begin. But, this doesn’t mean I feel hostile toward Buddhism or many of the other Eastern beliefs. If someone wants to believe that one day I will be reincarnated as a fruit fly, I don’t have a problem with that.

The great majority of mankind craves dignity and hope to their existence and meaning to the world. Whether or not, there is something beyond, is not the issue in my reference. The issue is that man covets more than his early existence; otherwise, faith need not exist. And even if this area of discussion makes you yawn, no one has been able to obliterate this yearning from mankind. Not even the gifts of science.

Oh, If I just could get a little smarter, I'd get it Huh? come on! That's just ad-hominem. Don't be a dick.
I don’t use language to insult, or at least not deliberately. Please remember that. It was a general statement, directed not only at non-believers but to believers as well. How many time have you asked someone “Why do you believe”, and their answer is often, “I don’t know, I just do”. Likewise, I have asked non-believers why they don’t believe, and voila … I get the same answer, “I don’t know, I just don’t”. Or better still, there is always the favorite answer from the agnostic, “Who knows, and who cares”.

If the wording was too harsh for you, permit me to phase it more eloquently and in more depth. Most people of faith look at religion and marvel at its prosperous survival and its resistance at whatever deadly blows by a secular and scientific age, and yet they don’t aspire to understand why. And few atheists seek to understand the secrets of this resilience. And agnosticism is content to just stay in the middle. Maybe the three groups are smarter than Mike and Aisme, and know that one would need the perspective of a hundred lives to answer these questions adequately. And that is why is said “.… begins to understand".

To be continued at a later date ....

Mike said...

aisme said...
I don’t use language to insult, or at least not deliberately...


I will accept that. I realize you have certain things that you believe, and that statement was based on that.

Anyway, all the comments you've hit on so far are just ancillary to the discussion. I look forward to discussing the meat of the subject, which is how one discerns truth from non-truth.
Cheers-
-Mike

aisme said...

I find that people who claim to be faithful, often attest to know truths that are not in evidence.
Truths that are not in evidence to whom? You? I thought we weren’t going down that road again. The one with the sign that reads, “Simply stating something doesn’t make it so.” Have you ever considered that maybe you haven’t looked at all the evidence. I know I haven’t. Who the hell has that much time!

At some level that's true. I'm sorry if that's disappointing, we can't always get what we WANT.
Since we are not of the same opinion on the meaning of life, what makes you think I’m not getting what I want?

Yes, but since I'm connected to the largest repository of human knowledge to ever exist, even if I didn't, definitions are but a click away. What's your point?
I was trying to understand why you think there is a conflict between science and theology. Sorry if I phrased it poorly.

Again, can you give me a description of a reliable method for determining the truth verses the falsity of a claim without using the scientific method?
This is what I was implying when I said that you don’t use math to learn about love, or love to learn about algebra.
If I want to know why the sky is blue, I wouldn’t look for the answers using theology. And if I want to look for answers outside of nature I cannot use a scientific method. I am left with using other available resources and reasonableness, since the supernatural, if it does exist, is beyond the detection of science. Now, if you want to make the “scientific method” your god, there is not much more I can say. I was hoping you would not rule anything in or out of any equation that cannot be calculated by a scientific method, which is better at detecting error than theory. You appear to have a fondness for philosophy, which is the study of the unknown and cannot be measured by any scientific method. I guess for philosophy an exception is made, but not for theology, which is also the study of the unknown.

…. I look forward to discussing the meat of the subject, which is how one discerns truth from non-truth.
What exactly is the “meat of the subject”? And before we can discern truth from non-truth, I need to know what “truths” you want to discern. And please don’t give me more philosophical definitions of “what is truth”. I am well acquainted with the works of philosophers, from Aristotle to Bohm.

Nice photo! You are very handsome. ;-)

Mike said...

aisme said...
Nice photo! You are very handsome. ;-)


hahahahaha. I'm going to post a real picture soon. Although I did draw this cartoonized version, so there is some resemblance.

Truths that are not in evidence to whom? You? I thought we weren’t going down that road again.

Um, right, sorry. It's hard not to when blank assertions are repeatedly made. But yeah. The conclusions don't help me without knowing how they were reached. But you can't or won't tell me how they were reached.

Since we are not of the same opinion on the meaning of life, what makes you think I’m not getting what I want?

I have no idea if you have what you want, but I truly hope you do. That wasn't what I meant.

I was trying to understand why you think there is a conflict between science and theology.

I don't think there's a conflict at all. If your definition of theology is the "science" or "study" of god(s), that's fine, but any science or study necessarily uses the scientific method. The only time there's a conflict, is when statements are made contrary to fact, but that's not a conflict between science and theology. That's a conflict between science and non-science. I would humbly suggest that it is you who believe there is a conflict between science and theology, because you fail to grasp the fact that science is the method for discerning truth.

If I want to know why the sky is blue, I wouldn’t look for the answers using theology.

How does one "use" theology? Just decide it is so, and that's that?

And if I want to look for answers outside of nature I cannot use a scientific method.

On the contrary, anything that has any effect on reality, can be tested with the scientific method. Are you saying that god has no effect or interaction with reality whatsoever? That prayer has no effect? and miracles don't happen?

Now, if you want to make the “scientific method” your god, there is not much more I can say.

What? It's not a god, just a tool for a particular purpose.

If I want to look outside, without leaving my house, I use a window. Just because this tool suits the purpose, doesn't make it a god. It's just a tool to do a job.

I was hoping you would not rule anything in or out of any equation...

I'm not. I'm repeatedly asking for help to find out if you really think there's any other way to find truth, or you are being dishonest with me.

I guess for philosophy an exception is made, but not for theology, which is also the study of the unknown.

No exceptions of any kind are made. Philosophy is largely opinion, and not represented as truth. The scientific method is a tool to find truth.

What exactly is the “meat of the subject”? And before we can discern truth from non-truth, I need to know what “truths” you want to discern.

Pick one. Any one. I'd settle for any single example Aisme. You keep saying there are alternate ways to find "some truths", but you are offering no ways to do so.

aisme said...

Um, right, sorry. It's hard not to when blank assertions are repeatedly made.

True, it was a blank assertion, but I just assumed you knew what I meant. I think you have pointed out something very useful here and we should try not to do this.
So, allow me to fill in the blanks. Understanding how something works is not the same as understanding how it came to be. For example, the motions of the planet in the solar system can be predicted with tremendous accuracy, however, its origin is still controversial. Science has also made enormous progress in understanding how the chemistry of life works, but the elegance and complexity of biological systems, especially at the molecular level, has paralyzed science’s attempt to explain their origins.

No exceptions of any kind are made. Philosophy is largely opinion,

For the sake of argument, I think we should start being more specific in our questions and comments. Philosophy and theology are academic disciplines that use intellect and reason to study the unknown or that which science cannot explain. Opinions are the conclusions one has reached from their reasoning. An opinion can also express a personal preference in answering questions like, “What’s your favorite color”?

The conclusions don't help me without knowing how they were reached. But you can't or won't tell me how they were reached.

Can you give me an easier miracle to perform? Let me get this right. You want me to explain in 25 words or less, what has taken me years of hard study to learn??? Be patent.

Are you saying that god has no effect or interaction with reality whatsoever? That prayer has no effect? and miracles don't happen?

I’m Catholic. Is this a trick question? :)

I would humbly suggest that it is you who believe there is a conflict between science and theology,

No conflict here. I live in perfect harmony with both.

Mike said …

The scientific method is a tool to find truth

If your definition of theology is the "science" or "study" of god(s), that's fine, but any science or study necessarily uses the scientific method.

That's a conflict between science and non-science.
because you fail to grasp the fact that science is the method for discerning truth.

any effect on reality, can be tested with the scientific method.

The scientific method is a tool to find truth.


A while back I said I didn’t want to play word games and I still stand by that. But for the purpose of our discussion, I need some clarification on how you are using certain words. I don’t want to be talking about apples, while you are talking about oranges.

Let me explain what I mean. Because most people use words like “science” or “scientific method” in a restricted sense, I assumed that you were too. And, therefore, based my comments on this supposition.

However, since science also means knowledge, and the definition of a scientific method, in the broadest sense, also includes the use of intellect and reason, I am now at the point were I need you to clarify how you are using these words. Limited or unlimited? After reading some of your comments, as mentioned above, I can honesty say I am confused and don’t want to assume anymore.

I don’t care which way you want to use them, so long as I know, because my answers will depend on it. I am not trying to avoid answering some of your questions, but unless I have a better understanding of the terminology you are using, my answers would sound like drivel, and I would be placing myself in deep doo-doo.

Pick one. Any one. I'd settle for any single example Aisme. You keep saying there are alternate ways to find "some truths", but you are offering no ways to do so.

Mike, I don’t believe you are deliberately being obscure and neither am I. However, I have repeatedly ask you what the “meat of the subject” and what “truths” you are talking about. And, please be more specific and tell me “what” statements made contrary to “what” fact. You keep repeating the same jargon over and over again. I think you made an excellent point about not making blank assertions, so let’s try and go from there.

Mike, I’m not the one with the questions. How can I answer you when I don’t know what you are trying to ask me or tell me.

How does one "use" theology? Just decide it is so, and that's that?

Ahh, finally! Now this one I can answer, but I think you should start a new thread. My “end of page” button on my keyboard is beginning to break down. But, first I need some rest.

Dan Stieber said...

"Buddhism is so far removed from Christianity that I wouldn’t know where to begin."

I would like to pop it and add my two cents to this statement. As any historical theologian will tell you, Buddhism has been around far longer then Christianity, and many of the created characteristics of Jesus are directly taken from the Buddha, these would be created since the Bible was written many years after Jesus and the Buddha for that matter were said to be alive.

"Mike, I’m not the one with the questions."

I find it far more respectable to question the world around us and not allow for such blind acceptance. Where would we be if we never questioned? Would we have never left Europe for fear of falling off the edge of Earth or would we still think that the Universe revolved around the Earth? Both of those beliefs were religious in nature and were not questioned because of the stranglehold religion had on society in previous eras. Without questioning, there would be no discussion on this blog, nor us on computers, so instead I feel as though questioning is the first step to discovering the truth of the world around us.

aisme said...

As any historical theologian will tell you…..”

There exists no theologian who would agree that the core beliefs between Christanity and Buddhism are compatable. Or at lest, please name one, so I can do a proper rebuttal.

Christ claimed to be the one and only true God.
Buddha is believed to be one of many thatãgata
Buddha taught how man could escape suffering through loss of desire and personality.
Christ preached the reality of sin,
Buddhism denies the ultimate existence of sin and the necessity of grace.
Christ taught that God is completely other, but he also taught that God wishes to share his divine life.
Buddha taught individuality must perish and that everything is one.

Christinity believes that truth, and the Author of truth, can be known rationally (to a significant yet limited extent) and through divine revelation. In contrast, Buddhism denies existential reality; nothing, including the self, can be proven to exist.

I find it far more respectable to question the world around us and not allow for such blind acceptance.

Oh, pleeezze!! As Mike would say, "Don't be such a d**k". I'm not referring to the questions of the universe, I'm referring to specific questions Mike is trying to ask me. Furthermore, how do you know about blind acceptance? How do you know I wasn't an atheist at one time, and then changed my mind after much contemplation and study?

Personally, I have far more respect for someone like Mike, who at least asked me why I have faith, than those who accuse me of being "blind".

Mike said...

aisme said...
"You want me to explain in 25 words or less, what has taken me years of hard study to learn???"

No. You are attacking a straw man. Furthermore, I'm not asking for you
to justify any particular truths or facts, just simply to identify a process by which any truth as opposed to any non-truth can be
identified.

"Mike, I'm not the one with the questions."
"How does one "use" theology? Just decide it is so, and that's that?
"
"Ahh, finally! Now this one I can answer...But, first I need some rest."
Nor, apparently, the answers.

"I have repeatedly ask you what the "meat of the subject" and what "truths" you are talking about."
Aisme, I don't believe you, that you don't understand what I'm asking. I'm asking the same simple question as I was at the end of the post. "Is there any other way than the scientific method for differentiating truth from non-truth?" PERIOD. You claim there is, but offer no method,
procedure, process, or any other way to do this.

"before we can discern truth from non-truth, I need to know what "truths" you want to discern."
"How can I answer you
when I don't know what you are trying to ask me or tell me."

Asking to know which fact you're trying to prove, BEFORE you accept how to prove it is intellectually dishonest, but, since you appear to be both purposefully avoiding the question, and intelligent, I think you know that.

Please think about this before you reply, don't tell me about different types of procedural details, relating to different types of specific questions, we've been through all that. Think for yourself, and give me an honest answer. Is there another way, what is is, how does it work? Use as many words as you like, but preferably not just to convolute and confuse the answer. ;-)

aisme said...

Nor, apparently, the answer.

At best, I acknowledged your question, asked for patience, and replied that it would be answered. This is far more than the silence that follows my questions.

Is there any other way than the scientific method for differentiating truth from non-truth? PERIOD. You claim there is, but offer no method.

I already answered this question. You aren’t listening. I have offered that other methods of discerning truth is with the use of rational reason and reasonableness, knowledge, intellect, discipline use of philosophy, theology, and by not deliberately leaving anything in or out of any equation. I even asked if you were including these other methods in your definition of a scientific method. Again, silence followed.

Asking to know which fact you’re trying to prove, BEFORE you accept how to prove it is intellectually dishonest.

No, it is not. It is highly appropriate. From the very beginning, I have never wavered from the concept that I do not use math to learn about love. This is MY position and I have always been very, very clear on it. I’m not going to change that position or method because it fails to meet your endorsement, requirements, ideas or understanding of what is or is not a suitable scientific method. So, let me repeat, I don’t use a “one-size-fits-all” method. If biology doesn't have the answers, I don't assume there are no answers. I will resort to other reasonable methods. If this is your characterization of being intellectually dishonest, then so be it.

It has been suggested that when insufficient common ground exists, dialogue results in talking past each other. I believe we have proved this theory to be right.

Mike said...

aisme said...
At best, I acknowledged your question, asked for patience, and replied that it would be answered. This is far more than the silence that follows my questions.


Sorry for the sarcasm, it just struck me as funny that you didn't answer the one thing you said you could. It was unkind, counterproductive, and I apologize.

I did not realize there were things you wanted responses to. I'm happy to be respond to any relevant thing you need a response to. Bear in mind though, that while I really WANT to respond to everything you have said, I'm restraining myself, and trying to respond just to things "on topic".


I already answered this question. You aren’t listening. I have offered that other methods of discerning truth is with the use of rational reason and reasonableness, knowledge, intellect, discipline use of philosophy, theology, and by not deliberately leaving anything in or out of any equation. I even asked if you were including these other methods in your definition of a scientific method. Again, silence followed.
I am listening. And I'm trying hard to understand your comments, but I'm fairly certain you did not answer. I've gone back through your comments, and find no such answer. The things you have offered here don't answer the question either.
Let me respond directly to the things you have offered here:


* use of rational reason and reasonableness
* intellect

These are important (necessary) tools to have when approaching the question of the truth or falsity of a thing, but they are not in themselves a method. "Use of" something might qualify as a method, but you would have to describe "how" it is used. I could "use" reason to deceive, because I decided it was "reasonable" to do so. So, while important, these are not a "way of determining", "method", or "procedure" to find truth.

* knowledge
This is certainly not a method or procedure. In fact, knowledge of the truth of something, is the "goal" of any way of finding truth. So sure, it's important, but it's the answer, not a "way of finding" the answer.

* discipline use of philosophy
and theology

Again, "Use of" something might qualify, but you would have to describe "how" it is used. My "use of" theology shows the truth, that gods are works of fiction, but as I said before, theology, being the science or study of gods, necessarily uses the scientific method at it's root. I have previously described in detail "how" the scientific method works.

* not deliberately leaving anything in or out of any equation
I don't know what you mean here. In OR out? Deliberately? Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I think you mean is that no position or hypothesis should be dismissed, unless and until it is shown to be false. I would completely agree. This is an integral part of the scientific method, but it is not an alternate method.

"Asking to know which fact you’re trying to prove, BEFORE you accept how to prove it is intellectually dishonest."
No, it is not. It is highly appropriate. From the very beginning, I have never wavered from the concept that I do not use math to learn about love.

I know, and I have responded to this. You haven't rebutted my response, but rather just restated this again. As I've said already, love is an emotion, a feeling, which is a function of the brain. This CAN and HAS been learned about scientifically. If you don't know about this I can point you toward the research. If you mean you can't learn TO love, that isn't true either. Are you aware that love and other emotions can be elicited by brain stimuli? As I've already said, if a man loves his wife, and this is to be seen as an objective truth, then the study of his brain function USING THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD, can, in principle, prove it.

This is MY position and I have always been very, very clear on it. I’m not going to change that position or method because it fails to meet your endorsement, requirements, ideas or understanding of what is or is not a suitable scientific method.
Yes, well, I on the other hand am happy to change my opinions, beliefs, and positions. I try to be open to do this whenever new information corrects or refines false or skewed assumptions. It is how we grow in knowledge. Rigidity in position is an unfortunate thing.

So, let me repeat, I don’t use a “one-size-fits-all” method. If biology doesn't have the answers, I don't assume there are no answers. I will resort to other reasonable methods.
Let me ask my question another way. Can you give me any example of a fact that is objectively true, but cannot be discriminated by the scientific method? Then, can you show the method used. Not just the name of the method used, the actual steps. I don't want to restrict you to any number of words Aisme, but if you can't describe a process, at least in summary, fairly succinctly, either you don't understand it, or it isn't valid. Even the most complicated things can be summarized.

It has been suggested that when insufficient common ground exists, dialogue results in talking past each other. I believe we have proved this theory to be right.

Actually, I suspect we have much common ground. My response on Fr. Charles' blog, is my short life story. Take a look.

What I do see from our dialog, is not a lack of common ground, but that you cannot produce an alternate method for finding truth. I've discussed why the things you've offered are not alternate methods, but I expect you cannot explain why they are, other than just repeating them as you've done up to now. I sense that you do not want to concede this obvious point, not because you feel you have a good answer, but because you see how this simple truthful observation unravels your worldview.

aisme said...

In OR out? Deliberately? Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I think you mean is that no position or hypothesis should be dismissed, unless and until it is shown to be false. I would completely agree. This is an integral part of the scientific method, but it is not an alternate method,

Well, yes and no. For myself, I believe this to be an integral part of the scientific method, but many do not. Now if you don’t want to classify each separate consideration or method as a “method”, then don’t. I don’t care what word you want to attribute, so long as we are in agreement that a scientific method should consist of more than experiments and test tubes, because that was one of the main points of my argument. Again, I don't want to play word games.

What I was referring to about the in-or-out and deliberate was this: In some scientific culture there are belief systems that are philosophically very questionable, insofar that some people believe that science must only allow naturalistic explanations, which excludes from consideration other hypothesis. This is materialistic philosophy masquerading as empirical science. Yes, rigidity in position is an unfortunate thing, and this is a perfect example. But, since I don’t focus only on one particular field, so not to be unaware of discoveries in other fields, and also ask questions about things that point beyond the natural world, I don’t see how I can be describe as rigidity.

These are important (necessary) tools to have when approaching the question of the truth or falsity of a thing, but they are not in themselves a method.

As I mentioned before, it is ironic to say that science is the only begetter of truth. It is self-contradicting, because that statement in itself cannot be tested by the scientific method. It’s a self-defeating philosophical assumption. I have much respect for science but I don’t believe it always take precedence over other things. For example; I know I have free will on the basis of introspection; knowledge of history is a good “way of finding” answers and there is much to learn from history, but we can’t test it by repeated experiments.

I could "use" reason to deceive, because I decided it was "reasonable" to do so. So, while important, these are not a "way of determining", "method", or "procedure" to find truth.

Mike, with all due respect, this answer is beneath you, or my writing skill is seriously flawed and you didn’t understand me. I specifically used the term “rational”. Let’s stay on the topic. We were discussing ways in which a serious minded person might search for truth, not the games played by a sociopath at the expense of others. Nevertheless, reason, can be used as a method in search of truth or to support theories. In fact, mathematicians have articulated a model of reasoning that can be used to do this.


Love and the brain: I would be very cautious as to how you are defining brain functions. Modern neurosurgery has encountered concrete evidence that the brain and mind are actually distinct from each other, although they clearly interact. While more studies are still needed, scientific new findings so far support the view that the mind is a separate entity from the brain and not a product of biology. If it were physical, it could be described from a third-person point of view and not first-person, subjective points of view. And if the brain produces consciousness or mind, than there would be no free will because matter is completely governed by the law of nature. A scientist can know what’s happening in my brain, but to know what’s in my mind or who I love, he must ask me. Again, Mike, be very careful here, because I might ask you to explain how the mind came to exist from dead, mindless matter and show me how the laws of physics were broken in order to achieve this process. Something no scientist has been able to do.

I sense that you do not want to concede this obvious point, not because you feel you have a good answer, but because you see how this simple truthful observation unravels your worldview.

At the beginning of your comment you apologized for the sarcasm. By the end, you were at it again. It is unbecoming of you, and a turnoff. It serves no purpose other than to make me want to withdraw from further dialogue. I would be happy to continue our discussion, but the sarcasm must stop and please refrain from unwarranted and preset conclusions regarding my thinking process. You don’t know me well enough to know what unravels me.

I am finding our discussion interesting, but let’s start off with some facts. Firstly, I am not here to convert you or to even try. That is not my intent. I read your response at FCL’s blog, but there was little information or detail in exactly how you lost faith. Or better put, what little faith you had. I don’t say this to be sarcastic, but only as a witness to the fact that if the Catholic school system in the USA is anything like that in Canada, it’s not enough to enlighten a fruit fly. Still, it would be interesting to continue our discussion. But, the ball is in your court, Mike. This is, after all, your blog and you get to make the rules, not me.





.

Mike said...

Sorry for the delay in my response. I've just been busy with other things. But anyway, where were we...

aisme said...

Mike said...
I sense that you do not want to concede this obvious point, not because you feel you have a good answer, but because you see how this simple truthful observation unravels your worldview.

At the beginning of your comment you apologized for the sarcasm. By the end, you were at it again.
... You don’t know me well enough to know what unravels me.
...please refrain from unwarranted and preset conclusions regarding my thinking process.


Well, it was a provocative statement, sure, but it was not sarcasm. Nor was it an attack. I'm sorry if it sounded that way. A set of interrelated beliefs can be unraveled if the primary principles on which they are built, are shown to be false. Although in practice people rarely change their beliefs, even when they are shown to be false. That's what "apologetics" is. My comment was directed at a set of interrelated beliefs or "worldview" that your comments indicate, not at you personally. I try not to base my conclusions regarding your thinking on "preset" notions, (of course I think you will agree this is fairly difficult as we all have preconceptions), but I think I have at least some idea of what your worldview is from our conversation, and I'm sure the same is true in reverse.

My point here is that this conclusion makes sense because while you won't concede my premise as to how we come to truth, you can offer no alternative (other than vague references to other possible ways without explanation as to how they would work).

Misunderstandings can often come from the fact that language is inexact, and writing is devoid of the verbal cues to assist in understanding. Furthermore, people (myself most certainly included), are often more apt to be curt when writing is the communication medium (I'm a two finger typer =80). Perhaps at some point in the future we can have an actual conversation via Skype and post it as a podcast. That might help us understand each other better, and allow the conversation to progress more easily. I have added my contact information to my profile, and anyone reading this, feel free to contact me.

As I mentioned before, it is ironic to say that science is the only begetter of truth.

I asked in the original post: "Is there any other way?" I'm not saying that there is no other way. I'm asking IF THERE IS another way. I've not yet been presented with one. Again, you have suggested some things that might qualify, but so far, I see no explanation from you of how these would work. Science in the broadest sense, seems to be THE way to determine truth, just as gravity is THE way we remain on the ground.

It is self-contradicting, because that statement in itself cannot be tested by the scientific method.

I've already explained how it can. Perhaps you could rebut my explanation if you disagree with it, instead of just talking past me, and repeating your belief again.

It’s a self-defeating philosophical assumption.

I try not to make assumptions, and I'm not doing so here. If you look at the original post, you will see that I am asking for alternatives. I'm only coming to the conclusion that the scientific method is the only way to differentiate truth because no alternatives have yet been identified. The purpose of this conversation is to see if another way can be found.

I have much respect for science but I don’t believe it always take precedence over other things.

Of course not, as I've said, it is simply a tool, not a God. The right tool should be used for the right job. The job of science is to discern fact. It could be argued that science has no purpose other than to differentiate truth.

For example; I know I have free will on the basis of introspection;

Are you now proposing "introspection" as a method to find truth? I don't suppose you have an explanation of that one? The dictionary says introspection is " Contemplation of one's own thoughts". So your statement is virtually the same as "I know I have free will because I think I do", which is the same as "I believe I have free will because I believe I have free will". This is clearly insufficient for anything but believing whatever thought that you want to, regardless of validity.

knowledge of history is a good “way of finding” answers and there is much to learn from history, but we can’t test it by repeated experiments.

That's a good example of the limitations of the scientific method. In fact this is the reason that our certainty about many alleged events in history is low. If something cannot be tested well with the scientific method, which means truth cannot be known to a high certainty.

But, to repeat myself again, knowledge is the desired RESULT of finding truth. Knowledge of a fact, cannot be said to be a way of coming to know that fact. Otherwise you're saying "I know it because I know it" which is useless tautology.

We were discussing ways in which a serious minded person might search for truth, not the games played by a sociopath at the expense of others. Nevertheless, reason, can be used as a method in search of truth or to support theories. In fact, mathematicians have articulated a model of reasoning that can be used to do this.

You may be right that reason can be used "as a method", but so far, we have an absence of an explanation of how. I would like to explore this, but so far you've offered no explanation. Certainly reason must be APPLIED whenever one is thinking, including when using the scientific method.

Modern neurosurgery has encountered concrete evidence that the brain and mind are actually distinct from each other, although they clearly interact. While more studies are still needed, scientific new findings so far support the view that the mind is a separate entity from the brain and not a product of biology.

This is false. And off-topic, but the idea of "mind brain duality" is an old one. Here we have a good example of the scientific method in action. The dualist hypothesis came from the fact that our consciousness doesn't feel to us as if it located in any particular physical part of our body. The ancients thought the heart was the seat of the mind. But the hypothesis that the mind is somehow "outside" the physical reality of the brain was falsified in the following way: One prediction of this hypothesis is that the "mind" should not be altered by physical brain manipulation, but this and many other predictions of this hypothesis are demonstrably not true, so the hypothesis is false. Thoughts are now clearly understood as physical processes. If you want to maintain this position, please show me what "concrete evidence" you are basing this on so I can examine your sources. Otherwise, it's just your belief. I'm frankly surprised that people still deny that the mind is part of the brain.

If it were physical, it could be described from a third-person point of view and not first-person, subjective points of view.

Not necessarily, but it can be viewed objectively nonetheless. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it's well or completely explained. Far from it, but the evidence shows that "mind", thoughts, and emotions, are functions of the brain. Just as music is a function of an instrument. You can't disassemble a saxophone, and find the music inside, but you can examine the way the music is produced, from the vibrating reed, and the empty cavity causing resonation. The brain is the same way. You can't find the thoughts in the brain by taking it apart, but we are understanding the way the brain produces them, and we are beginning to observe these processes in action.

And if the brain produces consciousness or mind, than there would be no free will because matter is completely governed by the law of nature.

Perhaps, but free will is yet another large and off-topic subject, can we stick to the topic of ways of finding truth?

A scientist can know what’s happening in my brain, but to know what’s in my mind or who I love, he must ask me.

Read the latest. this just isn't true anymore. You CAN be tested to determine who you love objectively, WITHOUT asking you. Look into functional MRI to get a taste of the latest things we now know. Here's one that discusses how to tell who someone loves, without them telling you. http://www.firstscience.com/home/articles/humans/the-science-of-love_1319.html

Again, Mike, be very careful here, because I might ask you to explain how the mind came to exist from dead, mindless matter and show me how the laws of physics were broken in order to achieve this process. Something no scientist has been able to do.

No laws were broken that I know of. And not having an explanation is simply that. And this is proof of what? If you ask me to explain something I do not know, I will tell you I don't know. We both believe that non-living matter became alive, we just disagree as to the how or why. I just say i don't know, but I'm guessing you think you DO know. I think admitting not knowing is consistent with the fact that we have little knowledge of this process. We are working to find out however, which is what happens when you admit not knowing. If you think you know an answer that you do not, it keeps you from looking for the real answer.

Steve Benson said...

Well this has been a fun article and set of comments to read! Okay, I'll admit it, I didn't actually read ALL of the comments.

Faith. Faith is a quality I often profess to have little of, but I suppose we all have a little of it. I've always defined it as believing in something without any evidence. My wife says that's blind faith, not faith. But I'm not so sure that faith is like guessing--I don't think you can have an "educated" faith, the way you can have an "educated" guess. Fanatical theists are fond of stating that accepting science is just as much a faith based belief as religion. I disagree. If I have any faith in science, its that the process, ultimately, works, in that our conceptions of the universe become clearer with time. But even the best theory can be overturned. As you mentioned in one of these comments, Einstein's comments about knowledge pertain more to a realization that new dimensions of learning come into play with new discoveries. I mean, Newtonian cosmology isn't the best way to describe the universe, but his formulae are still used for most practical purposes. I'm still not sure if my acceptance of the scientific system in general amounts to faith--after all, science has consistently come up with results, something religion never has. So I have evidence to support my belief, which makes me wonder whether or not it counts as faith.

Personally, I don't accept anything in my every day life with faith. Sometimes you just don't know, and that's that. You move on. Dwelling on whether or not someone is, to borrow the analogy, lying about the $20 bill in their pocket, is a waste of time, in most circumstances.

Zack said...

I have yet to hear any reason why faith is good for anything in a practical sense. I who like to scour the local landscape and see if anyone has a valid argument.

Mike said...

Steve Benson said...
...My wife says that's blind faith, not faith...


I've heard this statement before that these are different, but no one has been able to go beyond simply stating this. When is faith not blind? And if it isn't, is it really faith? Or is it informed belief? Isn't informed belief less than true faith?

Zack said...
I have yet to hear any reason why faith is good for anything in a practical sense.


I haven't either, but would be eager to hear any suggestions.

AlienIsmyFaith said...

I would say Why not keep options open for aliens? There exist probability for more intelligent life than us in this universe. They may come one day here and tell us all truth about everything.

Mike said...

Alien,
See: http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#future

Welcome

The purpose of this blog is to open up a dialog about reaching for truth in our beliefs. My view of faith, is that it is the thing that is used to justify a belief when there is insufficeint evidence. Faith is not a valid reason for any belief, and most people agree...until it comes to their religion, then faith is the only justification.

My purpose in saying this is not to be divisive. In fact quite the contrary. I'd like to understand why people feel that faith, rather than evidence and reason, can result in beliefs that are true. I don't see faith assisting in finding truth; rather our best chance at reaching truth is through reason and reasonableness.

These posts represent short thoughts for discussion.