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.