Is science just a matter of faith?
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07-04-2011, 05:35 PM
Is science just a matter of faith?
I'm an occasional Slashdot reader and I found this gem today:

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/04/...-of-Faith?

I particularly liked the high-rated comments.

The God excuse: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument. "God did it." Anything we can't describe must have come from God. - George Carlin

Whenever I'm asked "What if you're wrong?", I always show the asker this video: http://youtu.be/iClejS8vWjo Screw Pascal's wager.
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08-04-2011, 03:37 AM
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
In that article there was a line that said "'We don't learn science by doing science, we learn science by reading and memorizing. The same way we learn history".

I went to a school that had hands-on science lessons so I learned how science works. I learned how to test ideas and draw information by examining evidence. Just because we didn't have a Hadron Collider doesn't mean that we couldn't do science.

I think that the writher of that article needs to enrol himself into a real school.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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08-04-2011, 06:36 PM (This post was last modified: 08-04-2011 07:04 PM by TrainWreck.)
It's a classification problem
(08-04-2011 03:37 AM)No J. Wrote:  I went to a school that had hands-on science lessons so I learned how science works. I learned how to test ideas and draw information by examining evidence. Just because we didn't have a Hadron Collider doesn't mean that we couldn't do science.
Gee Whiz, that must have been a fancy Ivory Leage school - most us peasants are under the rule of the Christians and you know how they are when it comes to teaching science.

There may be a problem with the semantics of "science." Carl Sagan is credited with a quote about explaining that science is a way of thinking (or doing), and not a collection of information. I like to argue that science is the industry of gathering and disseminating information concerning naturally occurring phenomena, which would include human production. The reason I categorize it as an industry is because it requires organizational cooperation; although the individual observer can perform science, it still requires confirmation, at the very least, before anybody of critical mindedness is going to accept the information as being valid.

And there in lies the author's reasoning. The average people do not perform the science, and are reliant on the dissemination of the information - faith in the validity.

For the sake of clearing-up this problem my classification system designates the information gathered from science as Naturology. If we call the collection of information gathered something other than, "science," then it is a lot easier to distinguish it from the activity of gathering.

Naturology
1. Physicology - Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry
2. Terrestriology - earth sciences
3. Biology
4. Anthropology
5. Mathematics
6. Chronology

I have reservations against the elevation of mathematics to such a high level of the hierarchy, but that is only because I have yet to locate its precise origin - I'm sure it is in Language, which is a subdivision of Ideology. This position refers to the more theoretical aspects of mathematics, where as, the teaching of mathematics will be in the TECHs area, anyway. Most people understand mathematics as a "science," and I cannot argue against that, and so, even if the placement is incorrect it will not be detrimental to the system when a precise location is determined.

Humanism - ontological doctrine that posits that humans define reality
Theism - ontological doctrine that posits a supernatural entity creates and defines reality
Atheism - political doctrine opposed to theist doctrine in public policy
I am right, and you are wrong - I hope you die peacefullyCool
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08-04-2011, 09:01 PM
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
In some way Mr. Pastabagel has got it right. We (the wast majority of us) do take our scientific information from authorities, which I have no problem admitting is a form of faith.

I have been faced with this statement several times, and I have no problem explaining to people the difference between religious faith, and "scientific faith". It all comes down to having a viable chain of information.

Religious faith
If you are religious, you take your information from a priest of some sort. If you want to check the information given to you, you can ask him where he gets it from. He will answer "the bible". This is another chain in the link. You can check his statements to his source of information. If you want to check even more you can ask where the bible gets its information from (it doesn't list sources in the back. never a good sign). The answer you get is that it is divinely inspired. This is a problem because you now realize that the information in the bible is only supported by the very thing it is meant to explain. This is why we say that the argument from god is circular. God is real because the bible says so, and the bible is right because it is the word of god.

Scientific faith
If you want to learn more about a scientific subject, you go to a science teacher (or magazine). If you want to learn more, you go to your local library and get a book on the subject. Further inquiry is made simple by the sources sited in the back of the book. So you can go to these books for information on the bits of the subject that want to know more about. You can keep doing this ad nauseam and eventually end up with a book which sites a research paper as its source. This is where the so called "scientific faith" shows of its superiority. This paper will show you how you can repeat the proses of gathering the original information. That is, if you have the equipment and founds necessary.

Most of us never go to the lengths I describe. We have "faith" that our scientists check each other thoroughly enough for us to be able to take the information we get "on faith". The decisive difference is that we have the option to check our facts, something the religious simply do not.

I want to rip off your superstitions and make passionate sense to you
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10-04-2011, 11:12 AM
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
faith is not based on physical evidence.
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10-04-2011, 11:50 AM
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
(10-04-2011 11:12 AM)CJ-Canadian Wrote:  faith is not based on physical evidence.

but you couldn't convince an IDiot of that. Complexity, remember?

I want to rip off your superstitions and make passionate sense to you
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11-04-2011, 05:01 AM
 
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
Science - you want to check some scientific claim, you can actually go out and do some experiments and tests to prove it.

Religion - you want to check some religions claim, you can't go out and check and can't prove it.
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12-04-2011, 12:49 AM (This post was last modified: 12-04-2011 01:28 AM by Efrx86.)
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
(08-04-2011 09:01 PM)Norseman Wrote:  Most of us never go to the lengths I describe. We have "faith" that our scientists check each other thoroughly enough for us to be able to take the information we get "on faith". The decisive difference is that we have the option to check our facts, something the religious simply do not.

I agree with your post. Most non-theists frown upon using the word "faith" because of its religious connotation (belief not based on proof), but that word can mean trust or confidence depending on the context ("scientific faith" as you say). Of course, religious people will try to go for the equivoque and say "science is also a matter of faith" like Pastabagel did. But as you said, "faith" in religion and "faith" in science are way different.

If we go for the definitions on the dictionary, religious faith would be belief not based on proof. Scientific faith would be trust. You trust what a scientist says. But that kind of trust isn't blind. A researcher can't just come out with a certain "theory" and say that it's factual. He or she has to go through every step of the scientific method, and document it in a way that other scientists (or even lay people) can replicate whatever experiments or observations were done to be trusted, which is something that other scientists WILL do especially if the researcher in question hasn't built enough trust.

Of course, there are slip-ups, like the Andrew Wakefield controversy (where he claimed that a study he did proved that MMR vaccines caused autism, read about it, it's interesting) where the media, knowing very well that controversy sells, publishes something and people automatically believe it. People read news outlets all the time, and it's sad to say this but people have developed sort of a blind faith in the press. If the local newspaper says that two people were mugged and shot outside of a nearby mall, people will believe it. If it says that vaccinating against measles causes autism, people will believe it too, and the damage such a belief in a possibly forged study causes could last for years. The worst part is when a religious group, despite the desire of many religious apologists to keep science and religion separate, finds a flawed study published by the press and it claims that it was right all along (in the MMR vaccine case, power-of-prayer advocates). And even though the scientific community was skeptic about the study all along and in the end stripped Wakefield of his medical license, the damage was done.

This goes to show that there IS such a thing as blind belief in science, especially when a particular hypothesis is compatible with what people have been taught to believe in. Many people will believe in a lot of supposed facts that have been widely publicized by the media, without a speck of skepticism, and many times despite the media not providing a real source ("scientists say...", "studies have shown...", and so on), because of this, some examples being "there is a link between (cellphones / preservatives / food dyes / fake sugar / real sugar / etc) and cancer" or "organic foods are healthier than non-organic", which may or may not be true, but shouldn't be regarded immediately as fact just because they might seem to make sense.

So my conclusion would be that it's OK to trust scientific claims, as long as some guidelines are met:
1. That the source of a particular scientific claim has been shown to be trustworthy.
2. If 1. isn't true, that the claim has been verified by one or more trustworthy researchers.
3. If such a claim may make you want to change certain things you do in your life, be very skeptic about it. Do some research. Learn everything you can about the claim and whatever it deals with. Until such a claim ends up being verified by a number of sources and/or regarded as general consensus, or can be verified by other lay-people, people should not change their lifestyle blindly because of some claim that was published by the media.

Bottom line, the kind of faith people have in science should never be the same as the kind of faith people have in religion.

The God excuse: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument. "God did it." Anything we can't describe must have come from God. - George Carlin

Whenever I'm asked "What if you're wrong?", I always show the asker this video: http://youtu.be/iClejS8vWjo Screw Pascal's wager.
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12-04-2011, 08:56 AM (This post was last modified: 12-04-2011 09:20 AM by TrainWreck.)
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
(10-04-2011 11:12 AM)CJ-Canadian Wrote:  faith is not based on physical evidence.
Then each person is responsible to do the experiments that lead to the description (science) of the physical system in question.

Science is not just about describing physical systems. The social sciences, essentially, are about understanding how abstract systems effect the organization of people. People do not organize by magic - there is an abstract system, devised by human thought, that compels them to co-operate, and "science" can investigate the phenomena and there results.
(11-04-2011 05:01 AM)Baron Wrote:  Religion - you want to check some religions claim, you can't go out and check and can't prove it.
This may be true, but we can compare the social system that the organization of the religion imposes on a community, though the system of allegory of the description of the non-existing entities, to that of other social systems. Only the obtuse cares about the claims of supernatural, those of us of a higher sense of reasoning are concerned about the organization of community - people doing things to perpetuate the community - the real stuff - get it?

However, as of contemporary society, we avoid doing this because of secular society where all the social systems are allowed to exist "equally." Segregation is the isolation of experiment and control groups.

(12-04-2011 12:49 AM)Efrx86 Wrote:  Bottom line, the kind of faith people have in science should never be the same as the kind of faith people have in religion.
This may be true as well, but the bottom line is that non-theists have failed to provide any examples of community, which would compel the theists to abandon their "religious" faiths, that atheists find so deplorable. After many years now, the non-theists perpetuate the talking point that moral and value systems are generated by people, but the organizations do not produce any systems.

Humanism - ontological doctrine that posits that humans define reality
Theism - ontological doctrine that posits a supernatural entity creates and defines reality
Atheism - political doctrine opposed to theist doctrine in public policy
I am right, and you are wrong - I hope you die peacefullyCool
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12-04-2011, 01:18 PM
RE: Is science just a matter of faith?
As usual, I feel like I'm reading your post through a dense fog. I can see that there are a lot of words, but it's hard to find a meaning to them. What kind of a community or "system" is it that you are looking for? If you are looking for a society based on secular principles your statement that there are non is simply false. The U.S. is constitutionally secular. If you want examples of societies that are ACTUALLY secular, I suggest you take a look at any of the Scandinavian countries. These countries are great examples. They are all constitutionally Christian (protestant, and they have all independently evolved into secular societies.
Then again, I may not even have answered your post at all, what with the fog and all.

I want to rip off your superstitions and make passionate sense to you
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