Monday, July 18, 2011

Blind Faith...

I was watching Q and A tonight, and it was about religion and faith (well, I'm not sure if that was the title of this episode, but it certainly ended up being the subject matter).

The panel was made up of a self-professed Atheist/Agnostic (she started out as one and seemed to agree later she was more the other), an Irish Christian (I won't assume he was Catholic), a Muslim, a pratt Jon Saffron, and a Christian theologist. I wouldn't quite call that a broad spectrum, but I guess they tried.

The Irish guy - some sort of Academic of Science, said something I've been saying to people for what seems like ever. He said that essentially Science is also a matter of faith (remember he is a scientist and a Christian).

Quite a few people in my Twitter stream took exception to this, stating that Science can be proven (implying Faith cannot) and making flippant comments about allowing their children to decide which laws of physics they will believe in when they grow up.

This is all very odd to me - hey, what's new, right?

To me, it is self-evident that Science relies heavily on Faith. Yes, some scientific theories can be proven by simple experiments (throw something in the air and eventually it will fall to the ground, oh look, the phenomenon scientists call gravity!). Other bits of science relies heavily on conceptual theories and letting yourself "go there" (quantum physics, string theory, theories of time and space).

I wonder how often people ask themselves whether Scientific Fact is actually fact. Many Scientific Facts have been discounted over time; modified with the emergence of new truths. There is so much Science still cannot account for. Human's don't even understand how their own brains work, or whether or not the mind is intrinsically linked with the body/brain, or something separate and intangible. That hasn't stopped some Scientists saying it is and some saying it isn't - who has the facts?

People scoff at Faith as if it is fairy hocus pocus, and yet blindly believe what they are told by nameless and faceless scientists without bothering to ask for the proof - that is, to be shown the proof in front of their eyes. Yet, they don't hesitate to demand that people of Faith prove to them that their Faith is fact, right here, right now! Prove it! Show me God's birth certificate! Oh, you can't, you're full of crap then...

Science is Faith.

Without Faith there would be no Science because all we could not see would cease to exist and many Facts would be in question.

Just as I will encourage my children to choose whether or not to follow a religious faith, I will also encourage them to thinking critically about which scientific facts they will believe without proof they can see for themselves.

There is popular flowchart that suggests science is evidence based and faith ignores evidence. So much Science has yet to be proven conclusively but people are already believing it as they always do because Science represents fact - but hmmm, Science created facts, just as it created time, weight, and dimensions. So, we believe those things because we were told to believe them.

Faith - exploring the possibilities (where's the difference?)
Image: source


Peter Prevos said...

Science and religion can not be compared. They serve very a very different purpose.

The purpose of religion is to be able to understand the world. The purpose of science is to explain the world.

Religion helps people understand why the world is the way it is while science explains the causes and effects. Science can not provide meaning just as much as religion can not provide meaning.

To say religion is stupid basically condemns the vast majority of humanity to stupidity.

Having said this, my religion is atheism. I think there is no answer to the question what the meaning of life is.
Here is one I prepared earlier: Religion and the Meaning of Life.

Leah said...

I couldn't agree more. I had to chuckle at Ricky Gervais's atheist speech that went viral when he called science humble. People totally act religiously regarding science.

To be honest I don't understand identifying heavily as an atheist, I guess unless you came from a strict religion and it was part of your recovery. Having listened to a selection of atheist podcasts I really can't get my head around the agenda, which seems to be making fun of religion for the most part. I know there is a lot of intolerance and harm caused by religion, but they seem to add to it in my experience.

On a personal note, I find the idea of human consciousness being an aberration and that the light goes out completely when we die, opens up a abyss of fear and depression and crushes my ability to function LOL So recently I have decided that since scientists have found that distinct part of the brain are active during spiritual experiences, that's going to be evidence enough for me and I'll assume the brain hasn't been evolved to sense anything else that isn't there so far, so I'll make the leap of faith that something is there.

Jayne said...

I'd still like to know how they definitively know what a light year is, how they measured it and who decides the hard and fast rules for science and who gets to kick old theories to the kerb when they think they've disproved them?
Pluto was once a planet, then it got down graded, now they've upgraded it again...who makes the rules and how do they know they're right?
People just accept these findings with blind faith!

Sif Dal said...

Wow, I was actually not really looking forward to the comments I might get on this post! Thank you everyone!

Peter, you make an interesting point. I think a lot of people might not differentiate between the purposes of faith and science as you have described above. I had not thought of their purposes in this way and will have meditate on it some more before I know whether or not I had been viewing science and faith in this way, or had another understanding of them. Thanks for the perspective!

Leah, I can't imagine that all that we can see with our eyes and microscopes or telescopes just burst out of nothing billions of years ago - I guess that takes a faith I cannot conjure up. Where did the nothing come from?

Jayne, I was sad to see Pluto be dropped of the list of planets. I liked Pluto.

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