Science is based on faith?

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I know mentioning Extra Credits here is somewhat taboo, but I am not so much interested in them as much as the can of worms they just inadvertently opened. In their recent two videos they pointed out that some of science's roots were grounded in belief, because we are dealing with things we cannot prove (however likely they may be). This started a discussion that caused a lot of people to become rather defensive and upset. They recently made their closing statement on the argument and I have to say I agree with them.
Science is still based on evidence, it just so happens the evidence we currently have for any given topic could be wrong, we might not be seeing the whole picture or the limitation of us being human is whats causing us to error (in other words we will never know the answer). Because of all that we have to take some degree of faith into it to make many of our theories work at all. I just think people are frightened at the idea that science might not be entierly infallible, even though it's usually not a big deal when our facts turn out to be wrong. After all, if we knew everything, we wouldn't learn anything.

What do you guys think?

I don't watch EC so I don't know the context in which they said that but science as science can never TRUELY be proven. We can be 99.99999999999 ad nauseum % sure but we can never be 100% sure.

Coincidentally, that is my main issue with the theist/athiest argument. Neither side can ever truly prove their side and eventually, when you dig far enough, both come down to "because that's what I think." But both sides claim evidence/lack of evidence as validation of 100% certainty. It's a nasty can of worms.

EDIT: In my haste to write this and be simple, it came out worded very badly and people are mistaking what I meant. Here is what I was trying to say only much more eloquently. haha

Asita:

Before anyone jumps on this, it's worth pointing out that a Theory is the highest level of explanation in science and that no, a 'proven theory' does not become a 'Law'. The two are distinct concepts, the difference between which is perhaps best described thusly: Laws are observations, Theories are explanations for observations, which is why we have both the Law and Theory of Gravity. The former does not replace the latter, nor does the latter invalidate the former. It's also worth noting that contrary to popular usage, the word "Theory" in science is not used to describe uncertainty (on the contrary, a theory must be very well vetted with the available data to be described as such). Point of fact, the colloquial use of the word 'theory' better fits the scientific term 'hypothesis' than it does the scientific use of the word 'theory'.
That said, it is certainly true that everything in science adapts as new data becomes available. That's actually one of its greatest strengths. That's why the 'Plum Pudding' Atomic Model was replaced by the Rutherford Model, and the Rutherford Model replaced by the Bohr Model. While the Plum Pudding Model was an improvement over its predecessors, the Rutherford Model better explained the data than the Plum Pudding Model, and the Bohr Model ultimately improved upon the Rutherford Model. That's a bit that tends to get overlooked when people harp on how 'science changes'. The changes are not whimsical or random, they are made because the new explanation improves upon the prior model, typically in a way that hits much of the same explanations and expands upon them as the data dictates.

True, we can never be 100% sure that any particular scientific theory is actually reality, but when it comes down to it that doesn't ultimately matter that much. As long as science can produce useful and testable models which we can use to benefit our lives, science will always give incredible benefits to our species. In the end does it really matter if the theories are true or not if they can make our televisions, space rockets and cancer medicine work?

The words 'belief' and 'faith' are really loaded terms in this context, given that certain groups have been making no small effort to use them to draw false parallels between Science and Religion for political reasons, usually with the implication that science somehow is a religion. Even ignoring that though, I have to question the train of thought here. Ultimately, if we use the explanation you describe them as using, it seems to me that we run into the issue of everything being ultimately 'based in belief', to the point that the argument almost seems to suggest solipsism. I believe the world exists, but no matter how likely that seems, I can't prove it. I believe I'm not in a dream, but I can't prove it. I believe that the sun will rise tommorrow, but I cannot prove it until it happens.

Jacco:

For instance, we know gravity works because we interact with it every day. But its still a "theory" as we don't completely understand it, hence the name "Theory of Gravity." Evolution is the same way. We think it happened and is happening and have evidence to support that, however we can never proof 100% that evolution is real. That's what science is. A constant revision of what we think we understand to something more likely.

Before anyone jumps on this, it's worth pointing out that a Theory is the highest level of explanation in science and that no, a 'proven theory' does not become a 'Law'. The two are distinct concepts, the difference between which is perhaps best described thusly: Laws are observations, Theories are explanations for observations, which is why we have both the Law and Theory of Gravity. The former does not replace the latter, nor does the latter invalidate the former. It's also worth noting that contrary to popular usage, the word "Theory" in science is not used to describe uncertainty (on the contrary, a theory must be very well vetted with the available data to be described as such). Point of fact, the colloquial use of the word 'theory' better fits the scientific term 'hypothesis' than it does the scientific use of the word 'theory'.

That said, it is certainly true that everything in science adapts as new data becomes available. That's actually one of its greatest strengths. That's why the 'Plum Pudding' Atomic Model was replaced by the Rutherford Model, and the Rutherford Model replaced by the Bohr Model. While the Plum Pudding Model was an improvement over its predecessors, the Rutherford Model better explained the data than the Plum Pudding Model, and the Bohr Model ultimately improved upon the Rutherford Model. That's a bit that tends to get overlooked when people harp on how 'science changes'. The changes are not whimsical or random, they are made because the new explanation improves upon the prior model, typically in a way that hits much of the same explanations and expands upon them as the data dictates.

I wouldn't say I have faith in science, I would say I trust science. I wouldn't say I believe in evolution, I would say I accept evolution.

I guess peoples definitions vary. It is also impractical to think in 'absolutes'.

Not trying to censor your discussion and it's totally your choice, but don't you think this would be better in Religion and Politics?

Science isn't about 100% certainty. Unless you have 100% of the relevant knowledge about a system, can measure it to 100% accuracy and have a machine powerful enough to process what you measure, you can never claim 100% certainty. But you can get very, very, very close. Through constant revision, testing, peer review, clear and reproducible methodology and a massive bulk of cross-referencing and comparisons with related fields of science, you can get to a point where something is a "De Facto" certainty. It is "Faith" in the sense that you have a strong certainty that something backed by a massive, practical, cross-checked and reproducible set of evidence is true. Technology and medicine working as they do is practical evidence that our understanding of the universe at the levels relevant to make and innovate such things is very very good.
But still not 100% if you want to be pedantic ;)

Science doesn't require you to believe, just have reproduce-able results.

Well duh. Science doesn't aim to say that something is definitely true, just the probability that something is true. A lot of the time that is over 99%, which is close enough to something being true for us to assume that it is.

Did they actually do a whole episode on this? It doesn't seem to have much to do with gaming...

Science is about being able to understand a concept with enough accuracy to be able to use it. There is always going to be some small difference between theoretical prediction that will be made smaller when the next generation of understanding comes along, but there is no faith involved, just an understanding of the tolerance at which you're working to.

Take for instance, Newtonian mechanics. There were plenty of things wrong with Newtonian mechanics, quantum mechanics and relativity had to come in to mop that up, but at the end of the day a civil engineer can still use those outdated Newtonian theories to build a bridge, and that bridge will be perfectly fine to use providing no one tries to cross it at velocities approaching c.

Essentially you're missing what science does, there is no such thing as a "This is how it works so sit down and shut up" theory. A scientist will develop a model that agrees with a physical phenomenon to a degree of accuracy that allows us to take advantage of it either in technology or in other research. Only the very deluded will tell you that's exactly how it works, only that they have developed a theory that agrees well enough with experiment to be of use.

xPixelatedx:
I know mentioning Extra Credits here is somewhat taboo, but I am not so much interested in them as much as the can of worms they just inadvertently opened. In their recent two videos they pointed out that some of science's roots were grounded in belief, because we are dealing with things we cannot prove (however likely they may be). This started a discussion that caused a lot of people to become rather defensive and upset. They recently made their closing statement on the argument and I have to say I agree with them.
Science is still based on evidence, it just so happens the evidence we currently have for any given topic could be wrong, we might not be seeing the whole picture or the limitation of us being human is whats causing us to error (in other words we will never know the answer). Because of all that we have to take some degree of faith into it to make many of our theories work at all. I just think people are frightened at the idea that science might not be entierly infallible, even though it's usually not a big deal when our facts turn out to be wrong. After all, if we knew everything, we wouldn't learn anything.

What do you guys think?

Well, if you're going to advocate a theory, it has to be something you believe in, right? You have faith there, so you'll continue to advocate it. And as you believe in it, you'll defend it and hope to prove it.

OP, are you sure that Extra Credits wasn't talking about validating scientific theories? Because that's where THIS faith would apply.

Esotera:
Well duh. Science doesn't aim to say that something is definitely true, just the probability that something is true. A lot of the time that is over 99%, which is close enough to something being true for us to assume that it is.

Did they actually do a whole episode on this? It doesn't seem to have much to do with gaming...

The episode he's talking about was the second part of a discussion on how to handle religion in games.

Zantos:

Take for instance, Newtonian mechanics. There were plenty of things wrong with Newtonian mechanics, quantum mechanics and relativity had to come in to mop that up, but at the end of the day a civil engineer can still use those outdated Newtonian theories to build a bridge, and that bridge will be perfectly fine to use providing no one tries to cross it at velocities approaching c.

Not exactly "wrong", as much as Newtonian physics simply not being something that works across the universe all the time - on the classical scale, with relatively low velocities and large masses, Newton is accurate. The quantum level and the relativistic level, however, need different tackling, but even in quantum mechanics and relativity, Newtonian physics have their place as one of the building blocks of the theories, even if they're not nearly as significant as building blocks as they are in everyday life.

Essentially you're missing what science does, there is no such thing as a "This is how it works so sit down and shut up" theory. A scientist will develop a model that agrees with a physical phenomenon to a degree of accuracy that allows us to take advantage of it either in technology or in other research. Only the very deluded will tell you that's exactly how it works, only that they have developed a theory that agrees well enough with experiment to be of use.

Yeah, exactly. Actually, science works because it always tries it damnest to shoot down its own hypotheses. So you have a hypothesis that could explain a phenomenon? First what you have to do is try to nuke it from orbit with whatever you can, throw everything and the kitchen sink at it, and if in the end it still stands, you can say, "Well, we can say with reasonable certainty that this is actually how it works".

Reproducible, verifiable and falsifiable results are what science strives for when trying to understand and explain.

Captcha: Rent-a-swag.
Son, I am disappoint. I had such high hopes for you, captcha...

Zantos:

Essentially you're missing what science does, there is no such thing as a "This is how it works so sit down and shut up" theory. A scientist will develop a model that agrees with a physical phenomenon to a degree of accuracy that allows us to take advantage of it either in technology or in other research. Only the very deluded will tell you that's exactly how it works, only that they have developed a theory that agrees well enough with experiment to be of use.

Exactly. Science is a method. Theories are TOOLS. Just tools. They are not meant to answer everything they are meant to be useful in explaining phenomenon to a degree of accuracy that helps us in the modern world. Does it take faith for the lumberjack to raise the axe? Does it take faith to use a theory to produce a useful product? No. Because were you to bring the lumberjack a chainsaw he would drop his axe in a moment. It has NO value beyond its use as a tool. If a superior tool comes along the old tool is discarded in moments.

Faith is a loaded word because it HEAVILY implies emotional attatchment and "Hope" that a thing is true. I dont "Hope" the theory of evolution is correct. I couldnt care less. I WANT it to help me produce something useful because my aim is producing something useful, not having a perfect theory. As long as it does that i dont care if it gets shot down tomorrow. Its a useful tool for the time being and were you to give me a better tool i wouldnt pause for breath as i stamped evolution into the floor and took up your new one. As long as it helped me produce useful things better.

How do you define faith? I always defined it as "belief that is not based on proof." Under that definition no, no it's not. But if you define it as "confidence or trust in a person or thing" yeah I guess. In any case I think it was a poor choice of words due mostly to the fact that it has heavy religious connotation to it.

It's like if call "Through the worm hole with Morgan Freeman" propaganda for science. It's not incorrect, but propaganda has such a heavy negative connotation behind it that it doesn't get the point across well. So in the end a poor choice of words, but technically correct.

thesilentman:

Well, if you're going to advocate a theory, it has to be something you believe in, right? You have faith there, so you'll continue to advocate it. And as you believe in it, you'll defend it and hope to prove it.

OP, are you sure that Extra Credits wasn't talking about validating scientific theories? Because that's where THIS faith would apply.

A scientist should never "Hope" to prove their theory. The implication is they draw a conclusion THEN attempt to find evidence. This is not so. A scientist looks at evidence then draws a conclusion. There should never be a point where you need to "hope" evidence comes up to prove you right because you should have enough evidence already to show you are right. Further evidence to cement this theory is good on the basis that it makes all works you produce from more sound.

A scientist should never be emotionally invested in their theory. Advocating a theory on faith is... pointless. You advocate it based on evidence. You dont believe a theory. You use it. You cant believe an axe. They are both tools in creating something useful. If it has practical use its a good theory. If another theory has MORE practical use its a better theory. You dont have faith in an axe. I dont have faith in a theory. A tool either works or it does not.

Eddie the head:
How do you define faith? I always defined it as "belief that is not based on proof." Under that definition no, no it's not. But if you define it as "confidence or trust in a person or thing" yeah I guess. In any case I think it was a poor choice of words due mostly to the fact that it has heavy religious connotation to it.

It's like if call "Through the worm hole with Morgan Freeman" propaganda for science. It's no incorrect, but propaganda has such a heavy negative connotation behind it that it doesn't get the point across well. So in the end a poor choice of words, but technically correct.

That's just what I was thinking, a bit of a failure to communicate.

BiscuitTrouser:
If another theory has MORE practical use its a better theory. You dont have faith in an axe. I dont have faith in a theory. A tool either works or it does not.

Well, a better tool coming along doesn't always invalidate the old one. You don't need a chainsaw to chop down a small sapling, just like you don't need quantum mechanics to explain how a car moves on a road.

For the frontier lumberjacking, of course I'd still use a chainsaw tho.

That's correct. Science does demand a certain amount of faith. You build theories, equations and predictions based on evidence and previously proven theories, equations and predictions. It requires some faith, to believe that you have indeed found a way to encapsulate the unknown into an equation and finally grasp how it works in your mind, nomatter how different it is from reality itself. It is the way you can understand it. Your faith in structures that allow you to understand the natural world is your faith in science. Have faith, my son, for you will surely pass the physics exam. You only have to pray for the photon to encounter an electron, and thus-

- oh, where was I?]

Captcha: hocus pocus - a very neat Kurt Vonnegurt Jr. book.

Science is based on experiments and theories in which you can choose to trust because its a best method we have.

Einstein, for example, didn't want to believe in quantum mechanics despite many experiments proving them correct. While this was irrational, he knew that experiments can be wrong and theories can be modified and so he tried everything to disprove them. He failed.

Hoplon:
Science doesn't require you to believe, just have reproduce-able results.

Still, if you gonna build a bridge, you have to believe that laws that hold it together and worked 1 000 000 times before will work for a 1 000 001st time as well. It's not much to ask but it is there.

I've always thought that the main difference between science and religion is this:

Science updates its beliefs whenever new evidence appears. Religion denies new evidence in order to preserve its beliefs.

I don't like religion very much, as a general rule.

For people who are confused about what, exactly, EC said, it's that all reasoning is based on axioms which cannot be proven, but we believe to be true. One specific example of faith in science that they used was Postulate 5.

It's true, of course, that some faith is needed to fill in the gaps where scientists cannot present evidence.

The thing is that science isn't trying to make up wild explanations for things they can't prove and not allowing anyone else to say anything differently, which is why most people don't make a big deal about it.

And FTR, this is coming from a Catholic. I'm not trying to knock religions or anything.

I feel like it might be appropriate to post a link to their video, so people can actually see their arguments.

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/god-does-not-play-dice

xPixelatedx:
I know mentioning Extra Credits here is somewhat taboo, but I am not so much interested in them as much as the can of worms they just inadvertently opened. In their recent two videos they pointed out that some of science's roots were grounded in belief, because we are dealing with things we cannot prove (however likely they may be). This started a discussion that caused a lot of people to become rather defensive and upset. They recently made their closing statement on the argument and I have to say I agree with them.
Science is still based on evidence, it just so happens the evidence we currently have for any given topic could be wrong, we might not be seeing the whole picture or the limitation of us being human is whats causing us to error (in other words we will never know the answer). Because of all that we have to take some degree of faith into it to make many of our theories work at all. I just think people are frightened at the idea that science might not be entierly infallible, even though it's usually not a big deal when our facts turn out to be wrong. After all, if we knew everything, we wouldn't learn anything.

What do you guys think?

Science is changed and/or updated with every new invention and discovery.
Faith when it comes to science is a different thing than when it comes to religion.
If I discover A and B, and then use A and B to discover C and D, I can have the belief that there might be an E based on my previous discoveries and numerous tests using A, B, C and D and every other thing that might help with the possible future discovery of E (that's science).
However, assuming that Q exists and we will never be able to do certain things because of Q and that we should/shouldn't do certain things because of Q without even trying to prove/disprove Q, as well as answering any question you don't know the answer to with Q because it makes you feel better, that's another story (that's religion).

I hope that it makes sense :)

It's technically true, but in a way we'd all accept. We all assume we're functioning humans with working senses and that our pattern isn't suddenly going to stop repeating. But Ec didn't handle it great, this video I agree with more
http://blip.tv/sf-debris-opinionated-reviews/voy-sacred-ground-review-6464448

Science ends where faith starts. The big difference is that having the laws of gravity proved wrong is no biggy, which is different for faith. They're both important(maybe) to find the truth, but they can only look at different parts and with different methods and the faith required to support the science methods is the same as is required to be a functioning human being in many ways.

Mathematicians on the other hand require no faith =D

I saw the episode and I had to rub my temples for a good 5 minutes to just get the stupid out. I've noticed that when it comes to "debates" EC tries too hard to take this moderate stance and by doing so they shoot their argument in the foot. They are using the definition of "faith" in the most ludicrously broad sense. And the problem with this is they are trying to make parallels but at the same time avoiding any concrete definition. This ends up being the biggest downfall of the argument because while you can argue that sure you can maybe apply this word in the broadest sense, it isn't really the best fitting word because the ideas/concepts/practice behind the two ends of the spectrum are completely different.

It's like me saying oh look people of religion practice their faith, and people of science practice science....so they're equal right?

Nope.

I don't know, in the end I really think it's kind of a skeevy argument. I mean when they go "oh yea we have a team that is really diverse in world views....James is an agnostic." Ok great...that's 1 view out of a full spectrum of people's views on the whole "faith" thing. I have a feeling the team is leaning towards the belief in faith aspect. To me it makes the their whole argument feel akin to creationism trying to crowbar itself into real science by playing around with words.

Yeah, I wanted to slap extra credits for this.

Science isn't based on faith. It's completely the opposite. Science is based on scepticism. It's a process of elimination where you test hypotheses one by one and reject the ones that fail. You keep doing this until you end up with the one you cannot reject that best explains the phenomena that you are observing.

Really what scientists have "faith" in is that the peer review process works.

Unless you do the studies/experiments yourself, you're taking someone else's word for it on the results.
That's taking it on faith.

I think I have a suitable quote for this:

'Science knows it doesn't know everything; otherwise, it would stop.'

xPixelatedx:
I know mentioning Extra Credits here is somewhat taboo, but I am not so much interested in them as much as the can of worms they just inadvertently opened. In their recent two videos they pointed out that some of science's roots were grounded in belief, because we are dealing with things we cannot prove (however likely they may be). This started a discussion that caused a lot of people to become rather defensive and upset. They recently made their closing statement on the argument and I have to say I agree with them.
Science is still based on evidence, it just so happens the evidence we currently have for any given topic could be wrong, we might not be seeing the whole picture or the limitation of us being human is whats causing us to error (in other words we will never know the answer). Because of all that we have to take some degree of faith into it to make many of our theories work at all. I just think people are frightened at the idea that science might not be entierly infallible, even though it's usually not a big deal when our facts turn out to be wrong. After all, if we knew everything, we wouldn't learn anything.

What do you guys think?

The thing is that people perspectives and cultural experiences shapes their understanding of the world. Not only does this allow science to be a form of faith (something like 80% of people would do something simply because a guy in a lab coat says to do it), but they could be blind to solutions to problems, or they could make up evidence that doesn't exist (see BOTH evolution and Creation... both are full of indescrepencies, and neither person from either side of the debate is willing to give the other room to explain themselves. It's classic "faith wars").

At the same time, the faith that humans can overcome problems through irrational logic and reason (which is another root of science) has led us to some of the greatest discoveries, and will likely be what leads us to even greater.

I absolutely agree with the idea that science is a type of faith - or at least the way western culture worships it.

As a scientist, I have to agree with EC. Science is based on faith because life is based on faith. Whoever scoffs at fate has no idea how the human mind works. In science, we take things on faith and then we test them to see if we're right. If we're right, our faith on those things has been confirmed. If we're wrong, we have to find something else to take on faith and test. That's what they mean when they say that in science, faith is the means, not the end.

That's the difference between science and religion. Science questions the things it takes on faith constantly, and keeps questioning and testing over and over again. In religion, questioning your faith is a big no-no.

Faith is belief based upon no evidence.
Science involves action based upon evidence.
I find it very difficult to say I believe anything, because I know that anything that can be believed in can one day be proven false, so I simply say that X is what I think at the time.

My only problem with the videos is that they are saying assumptions and beliefs are the exact same thing, to the point where they use the words interchangeably. I really don't see this as the case.

xPixelatedx:
I just think people are frightened at the idea that science might not be entierly infallible

Anybody like this does not know science. Science isn't faith based, but neither is it infallible. If you're researching something in science, be prepared for something you thought you knew to turn out false - its just the way things are. We don't understand things enough to be able to say "This is definitely True", and we never will.

Jacco:
Evolution is the same way. We think it happened and is happening and have evidence to support that, however we can never proof 100% that evolution is real.

You were going well up until here. This is false. Evolution is like Gravity: It is real. What the Theory of Evolution is, is like the theory of Gravity - it doesn't say "Gravity Might exist" or "Evolution Might exist", it says "Gravity exists, and this is how it might work" or "Evolution exists, and this is how it might work".
Anything based on observation can be assumed to be 100% true, as we're not going to go into the whole philosophy side of things like the brain in the jar as they are utterly irrelevant to how this universe works. We see creatures slowly change over several generations, including, most prominently, humans, as well as bacteria doing the same thing within minutes. We know that Evolution exists. How it works is what we have to question.

OT: Science is not based on faith. It is based on evidence and scrutiny. You don't have faith that your theories are true, you have faith that they aren't, and that you don't know enough to make the perfect theory, and that is why people keep testing theories and try to break them, then allow them to be broken when some completely different test - sometimes from a different field of science - yields a result that defies your theories, but you doubt that result as well and it must be pretty much exactly repeatable if someone else were to do the experiment with the same set up.
There is no faith in this. You don't believe in your results and trust them to work, unless its out of a sense of pride, but you acknowledge always that they have a high chance of being wrong. Science is not based on faith, its based on evidence, most of which is based off observation. Science is as based off faith as the concept that I'm looking at my PC screen is [I AM looking at my PC screen, so from my perspective this is 100% true] - i.e: its not.

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