Science is based on faith?

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th3dark3rsh33p:

Dijkstra:

Saxnot:

Yes. That is the definiton of unfalsifiable. Now read what i said again. Religion cannot be effectively debated in terms of proof because it cannot be falsified.

So... according to you any court case that can't be falsified, we should just throw out all the other evidence because we can't falsify it? Great -__-

I don't think any court case that can't be falsified has any evidence of such to begin with or enough evidence exists that falsifying it is blatantly wrong.

Can't say that was a very good analogy.

So you don't believe in situations where it is impossible to tell for sure what happened somewhere but do have evidence that suggests one thing?

When it comes to atheism vs theism, theism can be disproven purely by logic. As for science, yup it's never 100% but it is the best model we have.

Before we start, let me try to put this in front:

Believing something you have no reason to believe even in face of conflicting evidence is an act of faith.
Not believing something you have reason to believe even in face of conflicting evidence is an act of faith.
Not believing something you have no reason to believe in the first place is not an act of faith as much as it is a willing ommission of consideration.

I consider "faith" to be active, not passive, and I suspect that's where most of our differences come from.

This will come up a few times in this post.

The_Darkness:

Two: Let's just step outside of the debate for a moment. Out of curiosity, what would it mean for you if it was logically proven that Science requires faith?

I don't know. If it ever comes up, I'll deal with it, but right now, I see no reason to, I have a bit of an aversion for "what if" hypotheticals. I don't think much would change in my life, though. I'd likely read up some stuff and try to see where they're coming from...and then, it would depend on those specific arguments what my ultimate reaction would be.

Vegosiux:

Fine. It's a statement, not an argument. I used the wrong word. That doesn't change the fact that it is impossible to prove the statement wrong, and that by extension, time is an assumption (since I just described a perfectly valid model of the universe in which time doesn't exist). In any case, this gets absorbed into the axioms, which I discuss below.

There's something to be said for the usefulness of statements that cannot be proved or disproved, namely that they're useless because they don't serve to further our understanding in any way. Yes, they can be an interesting exercise for thought, but ultimately they are not something a scientist should be dealing with.

Our understanding is built within a certain model. We do not claim this model to be universally right, but so far it does fit our observation. We don't use it because we'd have "faith" in it, we use it because, so far, it has been a helpful tool. It goes like that with every tool. You don't use it out of "faith", you use it because it works.

Regarding the infinite series of "Why?" in my earlier post - yes, you're right, in most cases, there will be questions that we can investigate and find answers for, and to stop asking questions then would be a mistake. But then, there will also be questions that we will never find an answer for. "How do we know time exists?" is one of them. As are: "How do we know there is an objective reality? How do we know that the Universe obeys strict laws? How do I know I exist?" Because to investigate anything, you have to assume that these things are true. (I think we're in agreement on this point - you're referring to them as axioms, I'm referring to them as assumptions.)

Yes, you have to assume those things are true. But an assumption is not the same as "faith". And well, within our model of understanding, those things are true, because the model was built by basically defining those things to be true. Again, not because of "faith" but because you have to start somewhere and this happens to be where we started.

Now if something extraordinary happens to shatter the basic premises of our understanding (which has happened before), we'll adjust.

Okay. So you view Science as constructing an internally consistent model to match our observations of the Universe. Am I right? And the basis of this model are the axioms above. And because these axioms are within the model, not the Universe, they are themselves a tool, not assumptions, and certainly not factual statements.

In short, in your view Scientists are saying "Let's see if we can build a model that includes objective reality, time, causality and strict laws that also matches what we observe within the Universe."
(This is important, because the existence of Faith is more prominent in some alternate interpretations of Science.)

...

So far, so good.

So now I have a question:
Do you have faith in the Scientific Method? Do you trust it?
I don't care that it's a justified faith, justified by millennia of active progress, that doesn't change the fact that there is still a measure of faith. Torrasque's post, the one that I originally responded to, mentioned the 99.9999% (or more) certainty. Faith accounts for the remaining 0.00...001%. It may be tiny, but it's there. For all we know, God could have spent the last 3000 years setting up every observed event to fit with the Scientific Method. You and I both believe otherwise - but there's the catch. Belief. We can't know for sure.

I accepted that there's no 100% certainty in our model of the universe, not even (especially not) on the quantum level. But keeping on with something that has shown internal consistency up to this point and being reasonably convinced that it will keep being consistent in the future is not acting out of faith, but simply experience. YOu don't even give it a second thought.

When you were writing your response, did you have faith for each and every key you pushed was still going to be there the next time you push it - devoting a part of your thought process to "The A is still going to be there. The H is still going to be there."? Or did you simply not even pay it any mind at all - as I stated at the very start, a willing ommission of consideration?

Well, let's go deeper. (Inception-Bwong)

Does the Scientific Method require faith to work?
The method can be summed up in three parts:
1) Observation
2) Creation or modification of a Scientific Model
3) Prediction

Point 2 is arguably removed from the universe, and is where the axioms come into play. Let's discard it as requiring no Faith.
That leaves 1 & 3. Observation and prediction.

1) Observation is an action, but it is passive (ignoring high level quantum for now). I can get into the question of whether you are assuming anything by making an observation - primarily I'd be arguing that you have to assume the existence of an observer before you can make an observation - but that argument gets self-referential very quickly, so I'm avoiding it.

3) Prediction is a necessary part of the Scientific Method. Without it, we can't test the validity of any Scientific Models that we have constructed. However, in making a prediction, you are placing faith in your model. At the very least, you are placing faith in the idea that by testing your prediction, testing your model, you will get something useful. And by that, to get back to my earlier point, you are placing faith in the Scientific Method.

The Scientific Method wouldn't work if people didn't use it. People use the method because they trust it. But in that trust is a (tiny) act of faith.
Science even acknowledges this detail. Any Scientific Theory could be overturned if new evidence came to light. Gravity, Quantum, Cosmology (actually, it's happening all the time in Cosmology...), even Thermodynamics - although Thermodynamics is an interesting one because of how closely it is tied to Statistics. Newtonian Physics was overturned, but remains accurate enough for day to day usage.
All this is because of that one little bit of faith, and because Science is willing to be sceptical in how that little bit of faith is applied.

1) Observation can be passive or active. If you're just watching what's happening without any other motivation, it's passive. But if you set up an experiment and have a vested interest in the result, it's active, because there's a conscious force driving it.

3) When making a prediction, you don't say "this will happen", you say "we can be reasonably sure this will happen...and if it doesn't, we're going to have to do a lot more science". A prediction is not a foregone conclusion, it's not a factual statement of what will happen, but rather a statement of what you're expecting to happen.

And I'm done. If you do write a response to this - and please do - then I will add a few small closing comments, responding to anything you've brought up. Otherwise, thank-you. You've given me some ideas to think about and mull over, and forced me to shore up some areas of my own interpretation of Science (note - mine isn't the Copenhagen one).

Thank you too. I've had a few things to consider myself. See you, I suppose. Was a nice discussion, one of the better ones.

Vegosiux:

Believing something you have no reason to believe even in face of conflicting evidence is an act of faith.
Not believing something you have reason to believe even in face of conflicting evidence is an act of faith.
Not believing something you have no reason to believe in the first place is not an act of faith as much as it is a willing ommission of consideration.

I consider "faith" to be active, not passive, and I suspect that's where most of our differences come from.

It does look like that's the source of the differences, doesn't it? Because, looking at your phrases above, I'm guessing that you would also write "Believing something that you have reason to believe is not faith so much as a natural conclusion.", whereas I'd call it a justified faith.

An assumption is not the same as "faith".

True. Good point in fact - I had been getting the two a bit mixed up. I would, however, say that acting upon an assumption requires some faith (here making a distinction between testing an assumption and acting on an assumption).

When you were writing your response, did you have faith for each and every key you pushed was still going to be there the next time you push it - devoting a part of your thought process to "The A is still going to be there. The H is still going to be there."? Or did you simply not even pay it any mind at all - as I stated at the very start, a willing ommission of consideration?

Heh. Funny story. I spilt apple juice on my (new) laptop only about a month ago, so no, I don't have complete faith in my keyboard :P
It has mostly recovered - it's only the 'o' key still acts up a bit. Note my wording there though - yes, I have faith in my keyboard, because I equate faith with trusting something. It can be trusting something to be true (belief), it can be trusting something to work (my keyboard - most of the time), or it can be trusting a person (for example, I have faith that you're not going to flame me for this post). Trust does not have to be active, and neither does faith (in my opinion). But I recognise that we might disagree on this point.

Thank you too. I've had a few things to consider myself. See you, I suppose. Was a nice discussion, one of the better ones.

Yup. Cheers.

Ledan:
When it comes to atheism vs theism, theism can be disproven purely by logic.

How so? I'll agree that certain god-concepts can be refuted using logic, but all of them?

Dijkstra:

Saxnot:

Yes. That is the definiton of unfalsifiable. Now read what i said again. Religion cannot be effectively debated in terms of proof because it cannot be falsified.

So... according to you any court case that can't be falsified, we should just throw out all the other evidence because we can't falsify it? Great -__-

Not directed at me, but no, such situations don't truly exist. Falsifiability does not refer to whether proof one way or another will be found, it refers to the need for there to be definitive conditions that could disprove the idea. "'Colonel Mustard' is guilty of murdering 'Mr. Body'" is a falsifiable statement because there exist conditions that could disprove the idea, such as Colonel Mustard not being in the same state as Mr. Body at the time of his murder, for example. Unfalsifiability doesn't even refer to overwhelming evidence that removes doubt. It refers to the lack of a 'lose' condition. At the risk of oversimplifying it, you could compare the concepts of falsifiability to the following coin toss conditions.

"Heads I win, Tails you win" <--Roughly analagous to a falsifiable statement by virtue of the presence of win/lose conditions for both parties.
"Heads I win, Tails you lose" <--Roughly analogous to an unfalsifiable statement by virtue of it lacking even a hypothetical capacity for loss in the speaker.

Again though, that's an oversimplification, and I sincerely hope nobody took that to imply a need for a specific set of odds. To be a bit more blunt, let me just go ahead and quote the above link: "That something is "falsifiable" does not mean it is false; rather, it means that if the statement were false, then its falsehood could be demonstrated."

To this end, an 'unfalsifiable court case' would (rightly) get thrown out, as even the hypothetical existence of evidence contradicting the conclusion would be impossible. To be unfalsifiable it would have to be beyond "He shot her in front of a dozen witnesses, an act that was caught on the security camera. We also have a ballistic match on his gun and the gunpowder residue on the both of them is a perfect match" and into the realm of "The jury is to disregard the fact that the accused wasn't even born by the time of the crime. That is irrelevant to the charges against him". For a case to be unfalsifiable there has to be no possible way to even hypothetically demonstrate that the charges are false. It's the fact that that there are definitive win/lose criteria that is important.

Asita:

Again though, that's an oversimplification, and I sincerely hope nobody took that to imply a need for a specific set of odds. To be a bit more blunt, let me just go ahead and quote the above link: "That something is "falsifiable" does not mean it is false; rather, it means that if the statement were false, then its falsehood could be demonstrated."

I like this. My definition of faith, TRUE faith, in the sense that I take it is to believe in something that is totally unfalsifiable. The axioms of science can be disproven, if you were to find an exception to causality or any other axiom it would be shown to be false. Science at no point asks or needs you to assume anything that cannot be proven false. "I exist" is the minimum. Thats why i dont believe it requires you to have faith in the conventional sense. All other world faiths require belief in the unfalsifiable, its my definition of faith and religion and if anyone can think of an exception im interested.

Since everything has already been said over and over and over again, I'd like only to add:

"This thread makes me sad."

Thread is amazingly mature for the Escapist. Just one thing that keeps sticking out at me from a lot of responses
"Science updates its beliefs whenever new evidence appears. Religion denies new evidence in order to preserve its beliefs."

Is like saying "All white people suck at basketball", it may well be that a majority of religions/religious people deny evidence to preserve belief, but saying that all do is a gross generalisation. It doesn't help either that the core belief of almost all religions is completely un-empirical to begin with, so the question of evidence is moot. If you actually read any texts by classical philosophers and early religious writers, you'll find that they ask a lot of questions of their faith, usually in Aristotle's "pre-scientific" method style, and a lot of them challenge readers to change up their own beliefs, and have had major impacts on the development of their religion to this day (see: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc.).

It always does irk me when someone starts deriding religion when they actually mean "Christianity", yes it's the most widespread religion out there, but it's not actually a representative of all religions out there.

I'm a Muslim and Islam in general doesn't really have any issues with science, it actually endorses it most of the time, so when someone takes a "one or the other" approach on Science and religion I just have to sigh at the narrow-minded view that is usually taken with this discussion.

So the idea that science and faith are intertwined is not that alien to me, since I'm used to the fact that it these two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

Science is the best guess.

What is the most likely in what ever given situation we have.

We have to take some things on faith. Do we believe our eyes? Can we really rely on our senses to truly see reality, even though we know they can be fooled? Do we accept the words in books, told to us by people we don't know, who might be wrong, lying, or might not exist at all?

Seeing is believing.

Science has some basis in faith.

We don't have faith in science. We believe in it. Because it gets us results. Religion does not, so it requires faith.

th3dark3rsh33p:

Dijkstra:

Saxnot:

Yes. That is the definiton of unfalsifiable. Now read what i said again. Religion cannot be effectively debated in terms of proof because it cannot be falsified.

So... according to you any court case that can't be falsified, we should just throw out all the other evidence because we can't falsify it? Great -__-

I don't think any court case that can't be falsified has any evidence of such to begin with or enough evidence exists that falsifying it is blatantly wrong.

Can't say that was a very good analogy.

This. Falsifiable means capable of being proved false. As in, there is no possible situation in which i can truly and definitely prove or disprove god or the spaghetti monster. Just because there isn't enough evidence doesn't mean there is no possible situation in which a criminal act can be proven

Honestly, I'm less interested in is science based on faith, but rather the cultural reaction. While I can't speak of the monotheists, I find it interesting that in-group out-group behaviour has emerged among atheists. The main part being the defensiveness among atheists where they proclaim "NO! WE DON'T HAVE FAITH! WE KNOW THE TRUTH!", because to them to have faith is a disgusting force only used by religious people. If you don't have faith in anything, and I mean nothing at all, then people tend to lead rather bleak lives. While the fountain of knowledge is soothing yet so cold, you can't consume enough to know everything.

That's where faith enters the picture. I use faith, as I believe biology may become the dominant force in psychology. That I believe human beings are calculable forces with predictive behaviours based on a series of events before that day. That I believe that maybe if you project enough information into people, the world will improve. I have no way of knowing with absolute certainty that this is the case. With an increase of knowledge, we may resort to a more horrid state with absolute black-and-white answers with no considering ethics and morals. Human beings may actually be incalculable and there may be some things that just happen out of random chance. Biology may not work in psychology as previously hoped due to the infeasibility of trying to biologically analyse each person for corrections, that something more soft such as social psychology may be able to do a better performance, or as good performance but cheaper or faster. I hold faith this may be the case. I have evidence to prove my case, but evidence doesn't mean factual since it's borderline impossible to pick up all the evidence of what may be or what will be, just because of the amount of evidence out there.

Faith isn't an explaining force, it's a motivational tool. It's something to help lead and direct you as you embark on journeys in life with the idea of "yes, I believe this will end well". Faith without science is meaningless babbling that will lead to a nation of blissful ignorance with problems patched up with duct tape rather than the root cause fixed; while science without faith is a monotonous iron cage, one described by Max Weber, as you find out things for no discernible reason. Without faith, science would not exist for there would be no reason to discover. There would be no reason to seek the truth in everything around us: The universe, humanity and everything else around us. There would be no reason to push on, with the belief that maybe through all of this something better, something more beautiful, can be forged.

Let's discover, for I have faith we can create something better. A scientific world without faith is something I can not bare to imagine, one filled with coldness, apathy and unethical behaviour.

disgruntledgamer:

Saxnot:

They threatened Aristotle?

I meant Galileo, and i do know a lot about the topic I just pulled a brain fart. Your chance to burn me with the corrected right answer has passed.

I am not attempting to 'burn' you. That's what you are attempting. What i am doing is refusing to expand this already sprawling discussion to a topic you have so far shown to know nothing about.

disgruntledgamer:

Saxnot:

That actually illustrates my main point very well. The idea of creation, being unfalsifiable, cannot be effectively debated by pointing out lots of mistakes in holy books. As such, scientific knowledge increasing does not mean less religious people.

No it doesn't it illustrates the opposite point, you're not even close. Sorry but creationism can be falsifiable by pointing out mistakes in holy books. In fact that is the definition of being falsifiable. Also increasing scientific knowledge is increasing atheism, once again not a matter of opinion.

Saxnot:

But that isn't essential, because it's not the accuracy of what's in the bible that makes it significant.

Um yeah it kinda is.

Saxnot:

I think you're a little confused.

You're half right one of us is confused.

Saxnot:

You seem to think you're arguing with a christian on the value or validity of the bible. You're not.

Yeah I am. Once again you don't even lie good you're not fooling anyone.

I tell you how i would respond to a hellenistic neopagan ( i assume you meant that), you don't believe me. I tell you i'm not christian, you don't believe me. Do you see how it is difficult to discuss things with someone who insists every assertion you make about yourself is lying?

disgruntledgamer:

Saxnot:

I thought our topic was the relevance of using proof and factual arguments in a discussion on religion and faith.

Showing evidence to support or refute claims is always relevant especially involving topics like religion that provides no evidence to support claims.

Saxnot:

Should i just leave

Yes

Saxnot:

Well, in science, as in all things, faith is required in many ways. The validity of observation, human capacity for understanding the universe, the validity of a given theory and so on. There are elaborate philosophical underpinnings to the ideas of being able to observe accurately, theorise properly, and understand fully the world around us. And that's without going into faith in theories that ARE falsifiable and turn out to be wrong.

Nope once again you're using faith in the wrong context, I suggest you get a dictionary and read the definitions of faith or read the "MULTIPLE" posts made by other people, many of them have replied to you directly trying to correct you.

Faith in the sense of "I have faith in your athletic ability" "Is completely different than saying "I have faith in my religion/God" One definition requires evidence/confidence and the other does not.

In Science we have this thing called confidence limits, it's not called faith limits for a reason.

Saxnot:

So love is a scientifically defined term? In what circumstances can a persons assertions that he loves someone be falsified beyond a doubt, then?

Nothing in science can be falsified beyond a doubt.

Saxnot:

Why? Do you have any arguments? Have you seen and understood every situation in which faith plays a role?

If you're using faith to do science you're doing it wrong, in more ways than one.

None of this is at all relevant to the discussion, and it's clear you're being obtuse about it, so i'm going to limit the discussion to the actual subject. If you want to burn something i suggest you get a match and some lighter fluid.

Don't play with fire kids.

disgruntledgamer:

Saxnot:

Look, you don't seem to have understood what i'm saying.

Yes I do, but I don't think you do.

Saxnot:

To debate religion and faith in the context of evidence and proof is to fundamentally misunderstand what religion is and what the significance of a holy book is.

Saying that evidence and proof are irrelevant when it comes to religion and faith, is a copout to being proved wrong. You don't want evidence and proof showing that your beliefs are wrong so you dismiss it and try to say it's not significant. You can close your ears and say 2+2=3 all you want and say accurate math isn't relevant all you want, but that doesn't change the correct answer being 4.

Saxnot:

To debate faith by pointing out male fluid doesn't come from between the ribs, then, is not very helpful or useful in any context. It's true, but it doesn't matter that much within the context of religion and faith.

Yes it is, it proves you're wrong and delusional.

When a book claims to be infallible and you should live your life according to set book, yet set book is full of obvious errors than pointing out those errors are is very useful. You may not like that the evidence points to the fact you're believing in a fairytale, but you don't get to dismiss that evidence just because it goes against your assumed conclusion/delusion.

Now we are getting somewhere. The difference is which side you start from. You start by reading the untrue passages, and say 'hey, this book is full of nonsense, and the first part is pretty hateful, clearly the spirituality/morality behind it isn't any good'. Someone else might start from the other end, saying 'hey, all this stuff about loving your fellow man and turning the other cheek is pretty good, i guess that's more important to me than the silly bronze age biology/physics stuff. It depends on your mindset and what you're trying to get out of it.

To your eyes, as a (presumably) atheistic person who believes all religion is evil, it does look pretty obvious. But to a religious person, it might seem equally obvious there is something more than just the physical world. When you start from such different perspectives, it's no wonder you're goint to be baffled by the believer's ability to reinterpret or ignore part of the book.

To be honest, they're right, but we're using two very different definitions to the word "faith". General faith is something everyone has, including science, we're a pattern-recognizing species which will see evidence of certain events or facets of our lives and we will be mostly sure that it'll happen in the same way again, like the hypothetical model that pizza is tasty, or the idea that kittens are fluffy.

These are models based upon evidence we've gathered through experimentation, everyone here has probably eaten a pizza or seen a kitten (but I can't be sure about that), and for those of us that have stroked something fluffy will have the evidence that it would also apply to kittens, the same way that if anyone has eaten something with the basic make-up of a pizza (dough, sauce, cheese, etc.) will have evidence that most pizzas taste nice.

Are all kittens fluffy or are all pizzas tasty? No, obviously there's bad pizzas out there and bald kittens, but the hypothesis of fluffy kittens and tasty pizzas is a fairly sound one built upon evidence that can be gathered from various sources (sauces?) and collated to form a basic hypothesis. Yes, there's some "faith" in there where you expect that it would be mostly true, but then again you might run into a bald kitten pizza (which would be horrible). Some things we just can't be sure of.

General faith is something we just deal with, but science deals with it a lot less because of the rigorous procedures in the scientific method to eliminate as much error as possible, so even though my fluffy kitten and tasty pizza hypothesis can be off by a factor of at least 60%, science will try its damndest to get as close to that 100% as possible with the technology we currently have.

Religious faith, on the other hand, is something entirely different. Religious faith is always 100% sure, always infallible and always perfect, just and (most of all) right -even when it's wrong-. Religious faith requires no evidence and requires no experimentation, there's no need for multiple sources and there's no need for anyone to check their data. You just "know" that this is how things are because an authority figure told you so and questioning the wisdom of that authority figure can (and sadly, will) be met with extreme punishment in either the threat of suffering or actual suffering and execution.

Science allows me to be happily welcoming to anyone willing to prove my hypothesis wrong with pictures of bald kittens and disgusting pizzas. I won't be mad, in fact, I'll be delighted that you've brought me new evidence to correct my model. However if I were in the religion of fluffy kittens and tasty pizzas, I would have you all thrown into the Olive Pits where you shall never know the loving softness of the Paradise kittens nor be able to feast on the Holy Pizza in the sky.

Now, please excuse me while I untangle myself from this very drawn-out mixed-metaphor.

Jacco:
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.

Well, you choose what side to "believe" in then, the side that can explain something to 99.999999% or the side that thinks the sun revolves around the earth. The simple truth is that the religious side does not offer any fact at all, just some references to a old dusty book compiled by someone high on fermented fruit parts 1000's of years ago.

Katatori-kun:

Use_Imagination_here:
Things that can't be proven or disproved can be assumed to not exist.

Incorrect.

Chomsky's Universal Grammar cannot be proven or disproven. To assume it does not exist however simply on that basis is to ignore mountains of supporting evidence which suggests but does not prove it's existence.

The same was true for the Higgs Boson possibly up until very recently.

...Both of those things can be proven. One of them WAS. And it's perfectly possible someone will come up with solid undeniable evidence for the other one.

I was specifically referring to things that CAN'T be proven. Like "there's an omnipotent space deity that can't be observed in any way and doesn't influence things in any way that can be observed (but apparently loves you)".

Seriously, can this die?
Science is NOT based on faith.
Science is only based on faith for people who don't want to understand Science with a scientific perspective, but instead just want to hear something sciency and kind of remember it to reference at parties, or some such.

if you want this described well: read Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World
if you want it funny, a little crass, and not politically correct: http://youtu.be/HhGuXCuDb1U - tim minchin's the storm

Science is based on observations
When reliable observations aren't possible it is based on assumptions that doesn't contradict previous observations
assumptions=/=faith

Use_Imagination_here:

Katatori-kun:

Use_Imagination_here:
Things that can't be proven or disproved can be assumed to not exist.

Incorrect.

Chomsky's Universal Grammar cannot be proven or disproven. To assume it does not exist however simply on that basis is to ignore mountains of supporting evidence which suggests but does not prove it's existence.

The same was true for the Higgs Boson possibly up until very recently.

...Both of those things can be proven. One of them WAS. And it's perfectly possible someone will come up with solid undeniable evidence for the other one.

I was specifically referring to things that CAN'T be proven. Like "there's an omnipotent space deity that can't be observed in any way and doesn't influence things in any way that can be observed (but apparently loves you)".

I'm not convinced there's a difference- or at least, that you know there to be a difference.

Proving Chomsky's universal grammar undeniably requires technology that doesn't exist yet- technology that may never exist. Ultimately to prove that all humans are born with linguistic grammar inherently stored in our brains and that all learned natural languages are variations on that grammar, you would need a device that can look inside a human brain, identify the entire structure, identify every thought stored in that structure, and then organize that information into a comprehensible output. This may be impossible.

Likewise, it may be possible to prove the existence of deities. Perhaps some theoretical astrophysicist will one day identify a way to spot when causality ceases (thereby proving an omnipotent force exists). Perhaps it will have something to do with alternate dimensions or dark energy. It strains credibility to propose that one knows with absolute certainty that humans can one day build a machine that can perfectly map all of the information stored in the human brain but can't achieve these other technological wonders. And that leaves aside the possibility that a god might one day choose to reveal themself to humanity.

You're making the same error that crops up time and time again in these discussions- you're deciding what is true or not by what you subjectively think is likely. And that's not very scientific.

But in any case, my point stands- things that can't presently be proven are not assumed not to exist. Science is built on claims that can't be proven. That's what a theory is in the first place, a thing that can't be proven. Take the theory of evolution for example: While we have observed evolution in laboratories with fast-reproducing species, we do not have any proof that evolution is the reason for diversity of life on Earth. We've got lots of supporting evidence, we've got no reason to believe anything else caused it, but we've got no proof. And we probably never will have proof, at least not until someone develops a time machine and sends a probe back to the earliest days of the planet and takes genetic samples of every species that evolves over time. But evolution isn't assumed to not exist- on the contrary, at this point in time you'd have to be mad not to believe it without strong counter evidence.

What? No. Come on, people.

Ya'll are letting various colloquial uses of "believe" "faith" "guess" etc drive this discussion.

The bottom line is, you can take a scientific truth on faith if you're lazy and you trust scientists. But the important thing to realize is that you don't have to take any scientific claim on faith. The whole point of science is that you can go out and look up the research, read the paper, shoot the scientists an email if you want (they actually respond sometimes, I swear, especially if you sound honestly interested in their work), or, you could in theory do the science yourself to verify the results.

Might be a little hard, in practice, to do the science yourself if you don't have access to, say, the Large Hadron Collider, but that isn't the point.

Regardless, you don't even have an option to verify a claim when it comes to a truly "faith" based one. We can't call up God and ask him about the problem of evil, nor can we recreate his methods to see whether or Jesus was begotten of the Father. We can't test whether or not Mohammed saw an angel in a cave. There's no way to observe what, if anything, exists beyond death and whether or not their is a system of reward based on our behavior while living. Etc, etc, etc.

tl;dr:

Science itself is not based on faith. One's acceptance of scientific truths may or may not be based on faith.

Jonluw:
Huge snip

So I suppose this didn't deserve a reply...

I think that not just science (which was at one time called natural philosophy) but everything we deal with in life requires a type of faith. That faith is the core of both philosophy and science it could be loosely called "What we take as a given." It is an interface through which we evaluate our world.

Some faith is supported by a strong foundation, has the ability to have its suppositions repeated, and derives its value from what is observable. There is still a faith that the methods are sound, that the results of experimentation can effectively support or disprove a hypothesis, and that the previous data leading to experiment can be seen as true. You can't proceed with calculus if you don't take some of the principles of number theory and mathematical logic as a given. Those who find truth in science take issue with the word faith because to them it implies a religious connotation or believe the word would shake the credibility of the scientific method. What I mean by faith are the thousands of "mental shortcuts" we take everyday so that we are not constantly examining every facet of life to determine its veracity. We just bridge the gap and carry on with our lives, content that these shortcuts tell us broadly and minutely how the world works. These certainties give us confidence and allow us to build amazing supposition upon amazing supposition so that we strive higher and discover more.

Other types of faith deal with the indescribable and the undefined. They don't have a solid foundation. They're much more subjective: they vary greatly between people. Often these take the shape of religions, but the same can be said of the various branches of philosophy and even parts of psychology. They leave large swathes of grey area and they can be wrong or contradictory dependent on the person looking at them. What someone takes on faith here represents a much deeper gap between that which can be proven but it addresses an entirely different part of our psyche. It addresses why the world works, or who made it work, if there was a who. There's an emotional need to be satisfied in this faith and the answer is often described as sustaining.

The problem is that those inclined to a rigid structure of determining truth are uncomfortable with those uncertainties and find that a system for removing them is preferable to one with them all left in. Someone oppositely inclined would believe that their certainty stems from a personal choice; it doesn't have to proven, but that they choose to believe it is true. They may not even realize this, or would claim that there is an in inherent truth in what they believe, but it fundamentally is the same. Both would resist someone mandating which system they had to believe in if it was not the one they chose or in one that denies their truth.

This is just a very long-winded way of saying that people won't agree on this issue; they've been arguing this for thousands of years to one extent or another. I would humbly suggest that it's better to appreciate and respect those differences and not view those with different views as either ignorant fools or dangerous heretics. There's no reason to engage in brinkmanship; it causes greater division and more uncivil conversation.

youtube downloader

BrassButtons:

Ledan:
When it comes to atheism vs theism, theism can be disproven purely by logic.

How so? I'll agree that certain god-concepts can be refuted using logic, but all of them?

God as an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent god can be disproven by philosophy, and any faith based on circular logic can be disproven by logic. Prime example is believing in God because the bible says that God exists, and since it was written by God it must be true.

JoJo:
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?

In the end does it matter whether or not there's really a god when believing in it gives so many people faith, hope, and happiness that they otherwise wouldn't have? And yes, you can say that faith has brought about a lot of death, I would argue with you but that doesn't matter, the fact is so has science. In fact, science has more responsibility for death than faith does, but both have benefits that outweigh the risks. So no, it doesn't matter, but it's an interesting experiment in thinking.

xPixelatedx:
What do you guys think?

This particular argument has a long history.

It goes back to Plato's Cave and probably further. Basically, you cannot know if you are experiencing "reality" or not. Everything you know might just be someone Joshing you with shadows on a cave wall. This is the core of why you can prove to yourself that you exist with the "I Think Therefore I Am" logic, but that does not extend to anything outside of yourself.

This is the core of the debate in Science of Realism vs Instrumentalism. These are both scientific philosophies. Instrumentalist believe that what we call "reality" is only the byproduct of our instruments measurements, and that "reality" could be radically different then what our instruments lead us to believe. Realists, who made great gains after Newton, believe that the measurements are reflective of reality. That is why they are called Realists.

Science became fixated on realism for a long time. All the way up to Albert Einstein. Then with Quantum Physics we've be able to show that our Instruments do change reality so they aren't capable of giving us "real" results of what reality is without them. From there Instumentalism has been making gains in the scientific community.

The only thing separating the two groups, Realist and Instrumentalist, is Faith. You ether have faith that you are experiencing reality, or you have doubt that you are experiencing reality.

David Hume attempted to expand on this philosophy, and claim that the self doesn't even exist. Most people stop with the argument of Plato's Cave because arguing that you don't exist comes accost as nonsensical.

Asita:
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.

Solipsism is not an inherently incorrect worldview though. The problem with it is that it is plausible (but unprovable either way), but accepting it renders meaningful discussion about the nature of reality impossible.

Once you start to question whether there is even such a thing as a 'reality' that has a consistent, testable set of rules, then taking that to it's logical conclusion would mean it's pointless trying to figure anything at all out about the world because it could all change without warning.

This does incidentally point to the basic assumption necessary for science to be useful though. If there is any truth to the notion that science is in any way based on 'faith', then it would be that it requires that there exists something which has consistent, predictable properties which can be measured reliably.

What use would science be if it could not make predictions after all, because the 'reality' it was describing kept changing?

It doesn't matter what the system is, as long as it has some consistency to it. You could still use the scientific method on something which would otherwise be termed 'magic', as long as it has consistent rules. But it's difficult to do anything meaningful in a scientific sense with something that does not appear to obey any rules whatsoever.

(Consider for instance a hypothetical case of telekinesis being possible, but only if all the people observing it believe it to be possible. That has predictable rules, but it also induces a situation in which disbelief would alter the results of an experiment. It would be challenging indeed to set up an experiment where the results depended on whether the experimenter believed an outcome was possible or not, but it still has enough of a logical basis that if something like this were the case, it could probably be studied scientifically - admittedly though, not without difficulty since you'd have to control for the beliefs of everyone taking part in the research, which would be the worst imaginable form of headache.)

Ah, never mind. The examples needed to point out the assumptions necessary for science to be invalid are very contrived.
There ARE assumptions involved, and in this sense you could claim it to be based on 'faith', but this is not quite the usual meaning of the word 'faith'.

For that matter, you don't need 'faith' in the sense that you NEED to believe in something for it to work.
I can do maths just fine without necessarily accepting the arbitrary axioms it contains as being true.
I do however need to accept the relationship between the axioms involved, and the remaining mathematics that depends on those axioms.
Remove the axiom and you invalidate everything derived from it as well. But that still doesn't require that you can prove or disprove the validity of the axiom itself. - Faith implies believing something irrespective of whether there is evidence or not.

But there is no belief inherently involved with a mathematical axiom. Merely the acceptance that what is derived from one cannot be correct without it being true.

It may be worth pointing out though that while science doesn't require faith in the religions sense, many of the things I've heard said by various scientists can be interpreted as 'faith' in something to do with science.
For instance, the statement that 'a theory should be beautiful' (which actually usually means it should be mathematically simple) is a statement of faith more so than science.

There is nothing implicit about either reality or the scientific study of it that would require it to be 'simple'. So holding the belief that this should be the case is a form of 'faith', even if the science itself is not. (ignoring the wider definition of 'faith' being thrown about so far.)

I consider Occam's razor to be largely a statement of faith when you think about it... But that's neither here nor there.

CrystalShadow:

I consider Occam's razor to be largely a statement of faith when you think about it... But that's neither here nor there.

It really isn't though. Occam's Razor doesn't actually make a statement on validity. What it does is codify a rule of thumb, saying that "if two hypothesis are equal in all other respects, the one that makes the least number of assumptions is to be preferred". That's not so much faith based as it is simply logical.

The big problem I have with their videos is frankly that they never defined faith. If you want to have this conversation with a word as badly defined as faith (spirituality is another one) then you have to start by very clearly defining what you are talking about.

KillerRabbit:

Well, you choose what side to "believe" in then, the side that can explain something to 99.999999% or the side that thinks the sun revolves around the earth. The simple truth is that the religious side does not offer any fact at all, just some references to a old dusty book compiled by someone high on fermented fruit parts 1000's of years ago.

The sun revolves around the sun? Methinks you're straw-man puppetteering too much here, my friend.

Ledan:

God as an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent god can be disproven by philosophy, and any faith based on circular logic can be disproven by logic. Prime example is believing in God because the bible says that God exists, and since it was written by God it must be true.

You can't "disprove" something with pure logic, since it would boil down to simple conjecture, again, if you want to disprove something you have to use evidence, and since you don't have the capacity or resources to observe god, you technically cannot disprove his/her/its existence, but by that same logic you can't prove it either, hence where the "faith" comes in.

And the example of the bible is sorta moot, that's just one out of many religions that have more solid texts at their disposal, like I mentioned before, Islam doesn't really conflict with scientific facts all that much.

Use_Imagination_here:

Katatori-kun:

Use_Imagination_here:
Things that can't be proven or disproved can be assumed to not exist.

Incorrect.

Chomsky's Universal Grammar cannot be proven or disproven. To assume it does not exist however simply on that basis is to ignore mountains of supporting evidence which suggests but does not prove it's existence.

The same was true for the Higgs Boson possibly up until very recently.

...Both of those things can be proven. One of them WAS. And it's perfectly possible someone will come up with solid undeniable evidence for the other one.

I was specifically referring to things that CAN'T be proven. Like "there's an omnipotent space deity that can't be observed in any way and doesn't influence things in any way that can be observed (but apparently loves you)".

What matters is how much evidence there is for them, not whether they can be proven or not. No evidence? Dismiss it until there is. But just because of a lack of certainty that doesn't mean evidence can't suggest something to most likely be true.

I'd say the only thing about science that resembles faith is that the layman generally takes on faith what the scientists tell him is the truth. Yes, the evidence and arguments are there for him to study, and he might have read the simplified version provided to the public, but it is rare that anyone other than a professional in the relevant field will have studied ALL the evidence and considered ALL the classical arguments and modern troubles.

It goes the same for evolution. I know the basic idea: successive generations of an animal adapt to better fit their ecological niche, because genetic mutations cause minor changes in offspring, and those offspring who lucked out and were born with impractical changes die and leave the gene pool, whilst those who turned out to have a useful change would survive to pass on that useful mutation to its offspring. Basically, nature likes to shuffle things around and go with whatever sticks.

That's all I understand. Really. I haven't read Darwin's books, nor studied any fossils or read the mountains of literature arguing the case for evolution. To do that, I'd have to go to college for four years before I could confidently say "yes, evolution IS the truth". I just accept it on faith because the simple summary I wrote above kinda makes sense.

I think a lot of religious types go through a similar process. Contrary to popular conception, they don't accept religious dogmas blindly. They think those things through a lot and sometimes develop very elaborate rationalizations to reconcile belief with reality. Like me, they've probably never studied the Bible in any considerable depth; they just watch Christian cartoons or listened to their preacher interpret choice passage (Penn Jilette once suggested that anyone who read the Bible cover-to-cover would become an atheist, but I'm skeptical of that claim).

Science isn't based on faith it is based on probability which is the opposite of faith. Science takes an observation and a possible cause and then tries to disprove that cause. If the experiment cannot disprove the cause it is considered more probable. This continues until it is disproved in which case the assumed cause or hypothesis is thrown out or revised, or the probability reaches a point where it is likely enough to be true that other assumptions can be based off it.

Faith is the assumption of truth regardless of probability. In fact, faith is said to be stronger the LESS likely something is to be true. Also, unlike science and probability, faith does not deal in likelihoods but in absolutes. Science never claims absolute truth just the likelihood truth. Sure the probability can be as high as 99.999999999999% but never 100%. Faith in something is to accept it as 100% true regardless of evidence.

Sure, some scientists will hold on to certain assumptions even when disproved, but this is bad science fueled by the fear of having ones life work thrown to the wind. Now look at a man of the cloth who sees excessive amounts of proof of the likely hood evolution. If he were to hold onto his beliefs regardless he would be said to be keeping faith it is only when he assumes doubt, which would be what anyone using probability based beliefs would do, that he is said to have lost faith. In other words, acts of faith run directly counter to science when put under duress. Further probability is based on evidence while the faith requires no evidence and actually may fly in the face of it, indeed will be said to be stronger as a result. Probability also claims no absolutes while faith only deals in such. Since science, modern science at any rate, is based in probability science is the exact opposite of faith.

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