Friday, April 03, 2009

Faith's fallacy

It is in fact because scientists are constantly trying to falsify their own claims that we can have a reasonable degree of confidence in the ones that we have not yet managed to falsify. (Ask any responsible scientist what it would take to make her give up her beliefs about any part of the world, and she will be able to tell you. Ask a typical religious believer what it would take to convince him that, say, Jesus was not the son of God, and you will succeed at most in irritating him—you will almost certainly get no answer at all.)

Faith, then, has a highly unfortunate double consequence: It increases one's confidence in one's beliefs, while simultaneously decreasing one's grounds for confidence. Pace Micklethwait and Wooldridge, what faith provides is not in fact certainty, but rather the feeling of certainty.


Capt. Fogg said...

That there is no certainty and cannot be any certainty is a cornerstone of modern science and it can be demonstrated experimentally.

Faith is the gateway to madness, even if it's a socially acceptable madness. How else do we describe statements like "I believe because it is absurd." by the church father Tertullian?

Luther denounced reason as a whore because it's the enemy of faith; "the greatest enemy faith has" and it's obvious that the aim of faith is to preserve faith no matter how insane, irrational and even murderous you have to be.

the comfort you get from faith is no more real than the comfort you get from heroin, only the drug doesn't usually tempt you to force it on others upon pain of death.

RR said...

Good comments capt...

Somehow I've been drawn into a comment-debate with folks on clipmarks (I posted this there too) ... The faithful use any shred of "evidence" (usually philosophy) to prop up their case. Unfortunately their rhetorical arguments aren't subject to falsification hence they aren't arguments at all and help prove exactly nothing.

Of course, they don't see it that way.

Capt. Fogg said...

Belief is based on a will to believe and little else.