Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Indeed - What are the 'methods' of faith?

From a NYTimes OPED...

David J. Gross, director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical
Physics in Santa Barbara, Calif., and co-winner of the Nobel Prize in
physics, told me in an e-mail message, "I have more confidence in the
methods of science, based on the amazing record of science and its
ability over the centuries to answer unanswerable questions, than I do
in the methods of faith (what are they?)."

Most people realize that a persons view of the universe - even the
'small' one each of us encounters day-to-day - should be governed by a
kind of 'basic scientific method'. Rational thinking of this kind
keeps you from walking off the top of a tall building, stepping out
into traffic, etc.

However, most Americans also believe 'faith' to be another window into
reality. Never mind that NONE of its "predictions" can be verified or
tested. They may be comforting -- as belief in Santa Claus is
comforting to a child -- but that doesn't make them true.

The ability of otherwise rational people to compartmentalize like this
is fascinating to me. Holding onto mythological and fantastical
beliefs must have imbued homo sapiens with some type of evolutionary
advantage ... at some point... or maybe it was a spurious result of
our complex brains.

In either case, using two distantly opposite methods of discerning
reality to navigate the world is at the cause of our problems today.

13 comments:

skip sievert said...

Our money system is based on abstract concepts that measure nothing real.

But I know you believe in it.

Adam Smith is a current witch doctor of belief system also.

Austrian economic stuff is just as ridiculous as religion or rather a branch of it merely.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Are those the only two alternatives?

When will scientists admit that their revered scientific method is not so religiously worshipped and, much of what science allegedly accomplishes, it does so through intuition, accident and sheer dumb luck.

skip sievert said...

Well obviously you would not like a plane to be steered by a garbage truck driver and visa versa.

You know,... really you ought to think a little. Technology destroys the Price System.

Rick said...

They are the only two paths to understanding our universe that seem to be practiced by most societies.

Sure, innovation and hypothesis frequently originate with intuition and/or by accident -- but unlike religious belief, scientific hypothesis are critically examined not only by the 'inventor' but by others whose goal is not to validate the idea, but to show a counter example. This "process" distinguishes science from religion and makes it the best method for identifying 'truth' we have constructed -- to date.

If you have a better method I'd love to hear it ... until then I'll put my 'faith' in the scientific method -- and ONLY there. The idea of revealed truth and 'faith in god' are completely and demonstrably bogus.

Rick

Intellectual Insurgent said...

They are the only two paths to understanding our universe that seem to be practiced by most societies.

How do you know what "most societies" practice? How do you know those are the only two?

Is accupuncture based on the scientific method or faith? How about ayurvedic medicine?

but unlike religious belief, scientific hypothesis are critically examined not only by the 'inventor' but by others whose goal is not to validate the idea, but to show a counter example.

How do you know that religious belief is not critically examined?

And, conversely, how do you know that scientific belief is critically examined? What does a critical examination look like?

Does critical examination for its own sake mean anything? What is or should be the goal of such examination?

It is interesting to me that someone who extols the sacrosanct virtues of critical examination has adopted many strong conclusions without equal critical examination.

skip sievert said...

"but unlike religious belief, scientific hypothesis are critically examined not only by the 'inventor' but by others whose goal is not to validate the idea, but to show a counter example.

How do you know that religious belief is not critically examined?"

Really ? That sounds ignorant Insurgent. Ignorance can be modified and hopefully educated out.
Religion is based on opinion. Opinion is never fact. Belief systems are always based on abstract concepts. Always.
Maybe you should rename your self the anti-intellectual insurgent.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Ignorance can be educated out Skip? Hilarious. That's the liberal approach. If we just lecture people ad nauseum, they'll magically become smart.

Education exists in front of us in everything and most human beings CHOOSE to stick their heads in the sand. It is voluntary. They can't handle the responsibility that comes with knowledge and understanding.

But like I said. How does either of you know that religion isn't critically examined?

Because you've met mental midgets who don't question anything and, therefore, they are representative of religion as a whole?

skip sievert said...

Thanks much for the inane comment.
Liberal approach. Wow, you must be kidding either that or you are retarded.

How is it one can equate science as a belief system when...
a belief system is supported by nothing more than an opinion. --- Science is nothing more than the prediction of the next most probable.--- Any belief system is supported by nothing except imagination, while the next most probable is supported by observation of some phenomenon that can be recreated under the same conditions by anyone, at any time and the result will be the same. This is science. This is how fact is established.--- One can imagine anything, however it can only become science when it can be measured i.e. detected either directly or remotely. Failing this it simply does not exist.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Religion was never meant to be taken literally.

What I find interesting about the religion bashers such as yourselves is that you take religion just as literally as the Bible thumpers. The only difference between you and them is the result you reach. You reject, they accept.

Poking holes in religion is about as productive as poking holes in Star Wars and Star Trek stories.

The same people who would read the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf without any concern as to its literal truth and indulge the Santa Claus myth, will then inexplicably scream at the top of their lungs about how ludicrous other mythologies are.

You're just picking and choosing which mythologies you prefer in shaping societies. Because humans will always have mythology.

skip sievert said...

I assume you are serious in your arguments. I always take people at face value.

In case you have not heard let me inform you that science and myth are two different things.

Who is bashing religion ?
Why would any intelligent person bother to bash belief systems ?

There is no accounting of belief.

Basic intellectual honesty though says that religion is based on unreality.
It is a method of social control.
Good or bad that is all it is and all it ever has been.
It was invented by political state for that function.

Rick said...

Whoa... I find your opinion totally off-base.

If religious myth wasn't meant to be taken literally, why do so many people take it as such?

There are 'fans' of Star Trek, etc. whose lives are influenced by these shows, but religious influence is TOTALLY different in that it results -- in HIGH degree -- in political action and hence it effects all of us -- sometimes with the force of law.

How many Star Trek or Star Wars political "PACS" do you know of?

You really can't be serious in comparing the two: one represents a group of people who live in a fantasy world insulated from reality ... the other group represents a fantasy world that THEY WOULD LIKE TO IMPOSE ON THE REST OF US. (I regonize not all religious people have this end... more on that below)

Vis-a-vi all of the efforts to
1- 'sanctify marriage' with a marriage amendment
2- teach creationism in school
3- etc. etc. etc.

Need I go on?

I don't think you fully appreciate the influence the religious right has in our political process... It seems obvious to me (its discussed daily on the news networks and the candidates pander to religious voter fantasies).

The problem is (as Sam Harris points out- and I fully agree with) -- religious moderates simply provide 'cover' for the fundamentalists by arguing that 'faith' and religious belief aren't bad, it's just the beliefs of the fundamentalists that go too far. But by advocating that belief in mythology is "ok" as long as you don't take things too far, you validate the exercise of unjustified beleif in general.

You are right in that human society will always have mythology: but those who tell Santa stories to little children KNOW it is a myth... and when the "time comes" that fact is passed on to the next generation. There is a world-of-difference between passing on mythology for what it is, and perpetuation religious dogma under the guise of "truth".

skip sievert said...

Obama and Clinton are a big part of the religious right.
People do not seem to get that.
One is a preacher and the other attends regular prayer meetings and has for years.
We are screwed in this system.
Join TNAT and become a Jammer.
Or do some major tail chasing.

skip sievert said...

For religion to take hold, parents must atrophy their own children's minds by making them believe Faith is good. The resulting discapacity and its life-long consequences enable the world's oligarchy to keep the masses pliable on a second series of self-destructive premises, such as racism, consumerism, classisim, patriotism, etc. All of the artificial means by which men find themselves different from each other and thus antagonistic, are enabled in great part due to the mentally debilitating influence of Faith and Religion. TNAT