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Faith In Religon vs Faith in Science

  1. Very Much

  2. Yes

  3. Somewhat

  4. Maybe a little

  5. NOT AT ALL!!!

  1. Dec 9, 2004 #1
    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.
    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: Dec 9, 2004
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  3. Dec 9, 2004 #2
    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.
  4. Dec 9, 2004 #3
    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.
  5. Dec 9, 2004 #4


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    any particular reason this was posted in social sciences as opposed to philosophy?
  6. Dec 9, 2004 #5
    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.
  7. Dec 9, 2004 #6
    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.
  8. Dec 10, 2004 #7
    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.
  9. Dec 10, 2004 #8


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    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'.
  10. Dec 10, 2004 #9
    Just a thought. Why is it that every time the word religion is mentioned, it is often referred to Christianity? :confused: 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.
  11. Dec 10, 2004 #10


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    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.
  12. Dec 10, 2004 #11

    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?
  13. Dec 10, 2004 #12


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    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.

    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.
    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: Dec 10, 2004
  14. Dec 10, 2004 #13


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    Well, I totally agree with russ. As I said in TENYEARS thread,
    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.
  15. Dec 10, 2004 #14
    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.
  16. Dec 10, 2004 #15
    Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

    at least thats what the dictionary makes of it.....
  17. Dec 10, 2004 #16
    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.
  18. Dec 10, 2004 #17


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    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".
  19. Dec 10, 2004 #18


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    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.
    Well, it's tricky because I'm assuming knowledge is justified true belief.
    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?
  20. Dec 11, 2004 #19


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    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?
  21. Dec 11, 2004 #20
    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...
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