# Faith In Religon vs Faith in Science

## Do you believe that Faith in Religon is the Same as Faith Science

• Total voters
62
I belive that faith in science is much different from faith in religon. I trust the results of science and have faith in them. True I will never be able to check the validity of every single experiment and finding out there, but I know that I could if I wanted to. I also know that new discoveries are rigerously tested before accepted by our society. Faith in science to me is something tangable, as opposed to faith in religon which is more of a blind faith to me.
TENYEARS posted this in his final post in the post debating if religon shows weakness in society.
TENYEARS said:
Did you make the instrument? Did you create the formulas that make it work? All of them? To you know their degree of error? Do you know exactlly the materials they are made of? Their composition exactally. Thier composition with realtion to their exact physical area of use and the surrounding area and it's complete composition? No.. That is faith. You have faith that the instruments of science and technology will provide you truth and what it really provides is an approximation of an approximation of a refected or non observalbe reality which is based on the approximation of an after affect. All based on faith of all the makers. A thousand times LoL.

He was arguing that faith in religon is similar to faith in science... but I must disagree. We can test and do test the theories of today's scientific world. I believe the earth is not in the shape of a cube or flat... that is faith in science, but that is not the same as believeing that someone was able to turn water into wine 2,000 years ago. Here are some of my more extreme believes.... When you think about religon and faith.... religon's faith is based on what happened 2,000 years ago in the Christian religon. People claimed to have direct connections with God... to be prophets, and it was accepted. Today we have just as many people who claim to have those same connections.... or even to be God, and where to they end up? A mental hosptial. Could it be that the people of the time of claimed Jesus just were not as sophsticated as society today, and were easier to be tricked? I have seen performers on tv do more amazing tricks than turn water into wine... they are illusions, why could not this be the case in the past... No to me faith in religon is VERY differnt from faith in science and to compare the two is a very ignorant thing to do.

NOTE::: Poll should read faith in science

Last edited:

How much can you really trust the results of science though? I don't know if this is entirely correct, but my geometry teacher was explaining to our class about Einstein's use of non-euclidean geometry for his theory of relativity. She said that Einstein assumed that the axioms of ordinary Euclidean geometry hold. Mathematicians have never found an inconsistency in the system created by Euclid's axioms yet, but that doesn't mean that an inconsistency doesn't exist. If an inconsistency could be derived from the regular axioms of euclidean geometry, than Einstein would have a problem then with his theory of relativity, since he assumed Euclid's axioms formed a consistent system (again this was a very simple explanation from my geometry teacher. I don't know how well this holds.) Things like this bother me. I know quantum mechanics also rests uppon a list of axioms that are taken as automatically being true. Science to me has just the same amount of faith that religion does when it comes to certain things.

Also on a philosophical level--how do we know what we observe is true or not? For example, someone may not be able to see the color red as the majority of the population does. Does the color red really exist as we normally define it to be, or is that person who is "color blind" not really color blind, rather the rest of the majority of the population is color blind and sees "red" as we define it to be, although red is not really that color. The true color of red maybe the color that the "color blind" person sees.

Kerrie
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
any particular reason this was posted in social sciences as opposed to philosophy?

Kerrie said:
any particular reason this was posted in social sciences as opposed to philosophy?
My last post about Religon as a weakness in society was moved to Social Sciences and it was a follow up to it, so I thought it might as well stay in the category, although I agree this fits better.

gravenewworld said:
How much can you really trust the results of science though? I don't know if this is entirely correct, but my geometry teacher was explaining to our class about Einstein's use of non-euclidean geometry for his theory of relativity. She said that Einstein assumed that the axioms of ordinary Euclidean geometry hold. Mathematicians have never found an inconsistency in the system created by Euclid's axioms yet, but that doesn't mean that an inconsistency doesn't exist. If an inconsistency could be derived from the regular axioms of euclidean geometry, than Einstein would have a problem then with his theory of relativity, since he assumed Euclid's axioms formed a consistent system (again this was a very simple explanation from my geometry teacher. I don't know how well this holds.) Things like this bother me. I know quantum mechanics also rests uppon a list of axioms that are taken as automatically being true. Science to me has just the same amount of faith that religion does when it comes to certain things.

I am not an expert in the area of Quantum Mechanics or Relativity, and I don't claim to be, but your examples are extreme cases of science. Science differs from religon in the facet that it is tested throughly, things remain theory until proven, whereas in the bible things are automatically taken as fact. How can you compare the faith in someones words 2,000 years ago to the faith that people see red the same. Science is something that is not written in stone, not gifted from a divine connection, is not told through a messenger, it is something that is sweated through. Science is built on fact and experimentation where as religon is built on believng stories of the past. Einsteins theory's on reltivty may be complicated, but they are constantly being tested.... same is true in the field of quantum mechanics. Also both theories don't claim to be pefect as we still are on a quest for TOE to unify them. However I have faith in what research has been going on because the research is there for me to check if I wanted to. You can't do that with religon it is a blind faith.

I think the major difference is that science does not mind to change its theories if someone propose theories that work better, while religion never checks whether its theories work, the effects of those theories are not in a realm where things can be checked. They mostly promise that their methods will produce some results in another realm (which you will enter after you die) that has no contact with our world.

Nereid
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
This is a pretty deep topic, IMHO.

To make much headway though I think it would be important to be clear about what we mean by 'faith in religion' and 'faith in science'. Personally, I think I get the former, but I've no real idea what the latter means! For example, is it about whether (and to what extent) people will take the peer-reviewed results from science as 'true', based solely on their source (ie 'faith' is more or less synonymous with 'belief')? or is it the role of 'faith' (whatever that is) in the real-world, nitty-gritty of how science is done today? Or something else entirely?

So far, it seems most posters mean 'belief that scientific theories are accurate statements about reality' (or something like that). If so, then perhaps extending gravenworld's first post may be useful ... as I understand it, a core principle in science is its uncertainty (not just Heisenberg and QM); another is that the theories - even highly successful ones like GR and QFT - do not, in themselves, say anything about 'reality' or 'truth'.

Just a thought. Why is it that every time the word religion is mentioned, it is often referred to Christianity? I mean there are thousands of religions and many are much "older". To name a few, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, taoism, so on and so forth.
Anyway just to add in my two cents, I think that 'faith in religion' and 'faith in science' are totally different. If you have your faith in science, and I tell you that a wall of fire came down from the heavens and destroyed my enemy's hideout (can't think of anything else), you definitely won't believe that! However if you have your faith in religion than its most likely that you'll believe that. The bottom line is your faith in religion and science just can't be mixed together. Its just like sports and politics can't be mixed together.

honestrosewater
Gold Member
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis/
Reading section 1 can help in establishing some definitions.

I think this question is ultimately about the limits of what any system can prove. I would tentatively define faith as a justification for an unprovable belief. But I will reread the article before making any further comments.

I am not an expert in the area of Quantum Mechanics or Relativity, and I don't claim to be, but your examples are extreme cases of science. Science differs from religon in the facet that it is tested throughly, things remain theory until proven, whereas in the bible things are automatically taken as fact. How can you compare the faith in someones words 2,000 years ago to the faith that people see red the same. Science is something that is not written in stone, not gifted from a divine connection, is not told through a messenger, it is something that is sweated through. Science is built on fact and experimentation where as religon is built on believng stories of the past. Einsteins theory's on reltivty may be complicated, but they are constantly being tested.... same is true in the field of quantum mechanics. Also both theories don't claim to be pefect as we still are on a quest for TOE to unify them. However I have faith in what research has been going on because the research is there for me to check if I wanted to. You can't do that with religon it is a blind faith.

Science is built on fact and experimentation where as religon is built on believng stories of the past.

That is what I had a problem with in the first place. Not all science is built upon fact, but theories/hypotheses that are assumed to be true. Are the examples I gave really that extreme? I don't believe so. QM is only built upon axioms that are supposed to be "inherently" true, they weren't derived from scientific experiments. That seems like faith to me. Another example would be the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution has yet to be proved. Last time I heard there was still the "missing link." I'm not saying that I don't believe in evolution, but what I am saying is that evolution is still only a theory (a good one too), that most people believe without total proof. That is faith to me. The more you question the foundations of science the more sketchy things get. Right now I work in a chemistry lab at a pharmaceutical company, and many times the reactions that we carry out simply do not work according to the theory. Humans can write down all the theory about chemical reactions that we want in text books, but how well do they accurately reflect reality? It seems like there is a lot of faith that the theory will hold, but how come when I carry out reactions according to the theory a lot times it doesn't work?

russ_watters
Mentor
gravenewworld said:
How much can you really trust the results of science though?
Quite a bit considering they make testable predictions. The sources of error TENYEARS listed are all true and in some cases may be diffiult to account for - but the fact that theory agrees with observation to a high precision means the theories must be at least very, very close to correct. Random error would not yield consistent, precise results.

gravenworld said:
That is what I had a problem with in the first place. Not all science is built upon fact, but theories/hypotheses that are assumed to be true.
Whoa, hold on there - you made a jump that isn't warranted. Theories/hypothese are not ever assumed to be true. Only postulates - and even then, postulates can be (must be) tested.

Relativity assumes C to be constant - well if C wasn't constant in reality, Relativity wouldn't work. Relativity uses previous work that leads to the conclusion that C is constant and turns that conclusion into an assumption for the purpose of expanding on that work - but if the previous work was flawed, then Relativity would have the same flaw.
The theory of evolution has yet to be proved. Last time I heard there was still the "missing link."
This is also a gross mischaracterization/misunderstanding. There are two evolutions: one is a fact the other is a theory that explains the fact. It is a fact that evolution occurs: it is directly observed in nature and in fossil records. The theory of evolution explains how it occurs: through natural selection.

The "missing link" argument is a creationist smokescreen: on any line, there is a point between any two other points. In fact, we have found loads of transitional species - but a creationist will always say 'but what came between those two...?' It is an invalid line of reasoning.

Nereid, I think perhaps trust would be a better word for believing science, but I'm not sure its that important a distinction for the purposes of this thread. Whatever you call it, the difference is that with science, it can be verified.

Last edited:
honestrosewater
Gold Member
Well, I totally agree with russ. As I said in TENYEARS thread,
Verification implies a system, but that system needn't be "reality". It can be a formal axiomatic system, for instance, about which the verifier can have perfect knowledge.
Just say that science only makes claims about logic and human observation. Then you just have to prove that humans can know logic and what they observe.
This is really all science does anyway, but the fact gets lost because some (most?) people believe an independent reality exists and scientific claims are true in that reality.

BTW Scratch my earlier definition. I'm not sure how I would define faith.

jammieg
But what if people did have faith in science just as much as they typically do in religion, what would that mean?
They both claim to be the way to good things for one.

Sho'Nuff
honestrosewater said:
BTW Scratch my earlier definition. I'm not sure how I would define faith.

Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

at least thats what the dictionary makes of it.....

i don't have time to read all of the other posts becuz im falling asleep right now, so I apologize if I repeat/ concradict anything that has been posted already. i will probably read this in full in the morning and i might edit my thoughts, but here they are.

faith (to me) is the same in each senario, no matter what words you put after it. you can not fully prove EVERYTHING in science, or at least we can't right now. and you can't prove EVERYTHING in religion( this is assuming that you do believe in what you religion says. I know i will get heckling from the aetheist but for right now i am leaving this be) So you have 2 cases, which in most ppl's eyes seem to be polar opposites. you don't know everything about either one, so you are making a leap of faith for wutever side you choose.

Now with that said the "distance of your leap of faith" might be greater/easier to justify for one senario over the other, but you still have to do it.

learningphysics
Homework Helper
3mpathy said:
i don't have time to read all of the other posts becuz im falling asleep right now, so I apologize if I repeat/ concradict anything that has been posted already. i will probably read this in full in the morning and i might edit my thoughts, but here they are.

faith (to me) is the same in each senario, no matter what words you put after it. you can not fully prove EVERYTHING in science, or at least we can't right now. and you can't prove EVERYTHING in religion( this is assuming that you do believe in what you religion says. I know i will get heckling from the aetheist but for right now i am leaving this be) So you have 2 cases, which in most ppl's eyes seem to be polar opposites. you don't know everything about either one, so you are making a leap of faith for wutever side you choose.

Now with that said the "distance of your leap of faith" might be greater/easier to justify for one senario over the other, but you still have to do it.

Well, I'm an atheist. You cannot "prove" anything in science (problem of induction). But science is an extension of common sense. We use science every day whether we consciously know it or not. We work against gravity every day. The faith that is involved in science is the same faith every single human being has. For example I believe that when I type something on my keyboard it will appear on the screen. I believe the sun will rise tomorrow.

As far as truth is concerned, some religious arguments have contradictions... Those that lead to contradictions are false. Those that don't may or may not be true. Scientific statements may or may not be true... but they are unprovable.

I'd say every human has this "scientific faith". Not every human has "religious faith".

honestrosewater
Gold Member
jammieg said:
But what if people did have faith in science just as much as they typically do in religion, what would that mean?
I'm not sure it would necessarily mean anything by itself; It's just a correlation. To establish causation, you would have to analyze people and their beliefs. And I don't know how you can analyze belief without considering its relation to knowledge. That's why I posted the link about knowledge. I may be wrong, though, so don't take my word for it. And no one else may want to take this discussion in that direction.
Sho'Nuff said:
Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
Well, it's tricky because I'm assuming knowledge is justified true belief.
S knows that p iff
(i) p is true;
(ii) S believes that p;
(iii) S is justified in believing that p.
This is just a starting point. There are different places you can go with this definition (just read the bolded parts in the article). You have to deal with the Gettier problem and epistemic luck, for example. Epistemic luck is the reason for adding that knowledge be justified. A person could believe some proposition p, but have no justification for believing p, and p may end up being true by coincidence (epistemic luck). Did that person know p? Is it enough that knowledge be true belief, or must it also be justified? What exactly constitutes justification?
Defining faith in this context is difficult because I would normally consider faith a justification for belief, but I'm not sure it qualifies as a justification here. What do others think?

honestrosewater
Gold Member
learningphysics said:
You cannot "prove" anything in science (problem of induction).
Why not? State your axioms/postulates and use deduction to prove theorems. I don't think anyone is arguing that science can prove anything and everything. But how can you claim that science can prove nothing? Perhaps I'm missing this point because I'm not assuming that science has to prove anything in particular. What is something you think science should be able to prove (that requires induction)?

You may consider science to mean physical science, but I also consider formal logic (and philosophy) to be a science. Either way, IMO the crucial distinction between science and religion is method- the method of determining a statement's truth-value in a system. This of course ties in with knowledge being a justified true belief.

Confusion arises because people are used to claiming some statement is true without mentioning the system in which it is true. They are implicitly assuming some system, whether it's formal, informal, or empty (ex. predicate calculus, common sense, ?).
When someone claims something is true, do you think it's prudent to ask, "True according to or based on what?" If I claimed Einstein was wrong and the Bible is right, would you ask for evidence?

I hold quite a few epistemological assumptions based on faith (i.e. belief without proof). For example, I take logic for granted because it's impossible to test or prove its objective truth.

To those who voted for "not at all" - can you prove that your reasoning is sound on an objective level? Can you prove to me that you exist? If not, then you must have some assumptions that are based on faith like I do.

My point is, the foundation of all human knowledge is based on some degree of faith. I exist and my reasoning is sound. Can I prove it? No...

Wave, the question in the poll is:
Do you believe that Faith in Religon is the Same as Faith Science
not
Can you prove that Faith in Religon is the Same as Faith Science

Scientific theories are believed when they are shown to work.
Religious theories are simply believed (because they are felt?).

gerben said:
Wave, the question in the poll is:
Do you believe that Faith in Religon is the Same as Faith Science
not
Can you prove that Faith in Religon is the Same as Faith Science

I apologize for not making my point clear. I am not asking if you can prove that faith in religion is the same as faith in science. I am asking if you can prove or disprove my assumptions. The point of my challenge is to establish whether there is faith in both science and religion. It would be nonsense to ask whether they're the same if, for example, there is no faith in science.

So do you think your reasoning is objectively valid? If so, can you prove it? If you think your logic is sound but can't prove it, then your belief is based on faith (i.e. belief without proof). I should make it clear that by "proof" I mean deductive proof.

gerben said:
Scientific theories are believed when they are shown to work.

I agree. Scientific theories are confirmed or disconfirmed by evidence. I have no objections to that kind of inductive proof. Nonetheless, there remains some axiomatic assumptions of which science, as well as religion, is built upon. I hope we all agree that there is faith (i.e. belief without proof) in both religion and science at least to some degree.

Now we can answer the original question - are they equivalent? Faith is by definition faith (i.e. they're both belief without proof). That is the only non-subjective conclusion we can draw, since the equivalence of faiths is not a well defined concept.

The majority of voters must disagree with me since so many of you voted for "not at all". Please criticize my reasoning.

Integral
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
While I agree that there is a certain amount of faith in Science it is of a much different sort of faith then religious faith. For Science I must have some faith that my existence and the existence of the universe has some validity. I must have faith that the universe will continue to work tomorrow as it did yesterday. So far my believing or not believed that a object will fall to the ground with constant acceleration has had no effect. It appears that the fundamental laws of the universe work whether we believed in them or not. So for science I must have faith that repeatable physical observations have meaning.

Religious faith on the other hand is faith in unverifiable and unobservable assumptions. Religion is all about the unobservable, Physics is about the observable. Trouble arise when concepts which traditionally have been considered unobservable and explainable only with religious faith become observable and explainable through science.

Some philosophers like Feyerabend tend to put science and religion in an equal footing. Feyerabend believes that the faith in science is not justified. Anyway, I live in modern society, and I like to hear my radio, and to drive my motorbike. I'm in eternal gratitude to scientists like Marconi or engineers like Howard Roper because thanks to them I can enjoy all the comforts of the modern society. I don't believe that I could have all of this praying, likewise I don't believe I could have all of this sleeping, for example

wave said:
So do you think your reasoning is objectively valid?

No, I do not think it is objectively valid (in the philosophical sense of objective). I think nothing is, objectivity is not something we have access to, we only have our human perspective on things. This is some mixture of different statements, in some of which we have a lot of faith and in others little. Having faith in one or the other statement affects your action and your life. You can choose in which you have more faith, therefore I believe they are different (i.e. you choose between different possibilities not between the same possibilities).

wave said:
Now we can answer the original question - are they equivalent? Faith is by definition faith (i.e. they're both belief without proof).

You should see "faith in science" and "faith in religion" both as a single concept and not just focus on the word faith in both, obviously $faith = faith$, but $"faith.in.science" \neq faith.in.religion$.

learningphysics
Homework Helper
honestrosewater said:
Why not? State your axioms/postulates and use deduction to prove theorems. I don't think anyone is arguing that science can prove anything and everything. But how can you claim that science can prove nothing? Perhaps I'm missing this point because I'm not assuming that science has to prove anything in particular. What is something you think science should be able to prove (that requires induction)?

Do you believe that if you drop and object, it will fall to the ground? You cannot prove it. For example the law of gravitation.... you've found by making observations that objects of mass attract each other... however there is no way to prove that in the future they will continue to do the same... no way to prove that the universe will behave in the future the same way it did today.

Look up "problem of induction" on the internet. You'll see a lot of stuff.

Yes, from experimental observations and a theory that fits those observations... you can then mathematically deduce new formulas and make predictions... however there is a basic assumption in "science" that what happened before will happen again. Not just in science.... all humans and some animals make this same assumption.

I'm not an expert in "truth"... but I believe that the axioms of mathematics, the first principles.. are true and self evident.

It's not self evident that tomorrow the universe will be the same as it is today... I definitely believe it will be the same, but I don't see any logical reason why it should.

honestrosewater
Gold Member
learningphysics,
Okay, let "The sun will rise tomorrow" = Q.
I can prove $P \Rightarrow Q$. Proving $P \Rightarrow Q$ is different from proving P or proving Q. That is the crucial distinction.
No, I cannot prove Q is true absolutely; I cannot prove anything is true absolutely. My proof can only be relative, or conditional. I can only prove that Q is true if P is true.
However, I can still know that P is true. I can observe P, for instance. If P = "I saw the sun rise today" I can know if P is true, and there is no proof involved in my knowing so.
Knowing that P is true, I can prove that Q is true, if I can prove that $P \Rightarrow Q$ is true.
I hope I explained that correctly, you or someone else can check me.

The point is that science doesn't have to rely on induction. It can and often does, but it doesn't always have to. And even so, induction is not faith. Just as science can but needn't rely on induction, science can but needn't rely on faith.
The same can be true of religion. Why do you think people try to prove the Bible is true? Who's to say people cannot know supernatural things exist? What do you think philosophers do all day? Actually, don't answer that last one.

honestrosewater
Gold Member
learningphysics said:
however there is a basic assumption in "science" that what happened before will happen again. Not just in science.... all humans and some animals make this same assumption.

Yes, I believe it's a common assumption. However, an assumption is not faith. A belief based on an assumption is not a belief based on faith. This is what I explained above. Let P = "what happened before will happen again." You can use P (along with other axioms) to prove other statements. Assuming P to be true is different from believing P to be true, proving P to be true, or knowing P to be true.
This is why I object to the claim that science is based on faith. Define science! Er, same goes for religion, but theists have more explaining to do. :tongue2:

BTW I'd like to see you prove "All humans and some animals assume what happened before will happen again."

learningphysics
Homework Helper
honestrosewater said:
learningphysics,
Okay, let "The sun will rise tomorrow" = Q.
I can prove $P \Rightarrow Q$. Proving $P \Rightarrow Q$ is different from proving P or proving Q. That is the crucial distinction.
No, I cannot prove Q is true absolutely; I cannot prove anything is true absolutely. My proof can only be relative, or conditional. I can only prove that Q is true if P is true.
However, I can still know that P is true. I can observe P, for instance. If P = "I saw the sun rise today" I can know if P is true, and there is no proof involved in my knowing so.
Knowing that P is true, I can prove that Q is true, if I can prove that $P \Rightarrow Q$ is true.
I hope I explained that correctly, you or someone else can check me.

I have no problem with saying P is true, if you say you saw the sun rise today. It is the $P \Rightarrow Q$ I'm talking about.

What I'm saying is that it is impossible to prove $P \Rightarrow Q$ is true... This is the basic assumption in science and everyday life.

Saying $P \Rightarrow Q$ IS induction!

learningphysics
Homework Helper
honestrosewater said:
Yes, I believe it's a common assumption. However, an assumption is not faith. A belief based on an assumption is not a belief based on faith. This is what I explained above. Let P = "what happened before will happen again." You can use P (along with other axioms) to prove other statements. Assuming P to be true is different from believing P to be true, proving P to be true, or knowing P to be true.
This is why I object to the claim that science is based on faith. Define science! Er, same goes for religion, but theists have more explaining to do. :tongue2:

BTW I'd like to see you prove "All humans and some animals assume what happened before will happen again."

I don't understand the distinction... How is faith different from "assumptions"?

I cannot prove all animals assume what happened before will happen again. I'm using induction here like other scientists do... so I might be wrong.