Faith in Science

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  • #1
Kerrie
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How much faith is put in science? I addressed this question in PF 2.0...for now, I will leave this question open ended...
 

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  • #2
Adam
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You should not place any "faith" in science at all.

Faith = belief without reason.

Science = Our human endeavour to understand the universe based on what can be verified, and what can be rationally deduced from verified facts.

Faith has no place in it.
 
  • #3
Mentat
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I agree with Adam here. Faith may be involved in the first two steps of the Scientific Method (the ones I attribute to being in the realm of "Philosophy"), but it has no place, after experimentation.
 
  • #4
russ_watters
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Well that was easy enough...
 
  • #5
Njorl
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The vast majority of people regularly exercise their faith in science. An infinitesmal percentage of the population have any idea of how things work, yet they routinely watch TV or microwave their dinner. These things are essentially manna from heaven to the majority of people, they just don't think about it.

Even scientists have to restrict their demand for proof to reasonable levels. It is just not posssible to verify everything. Means of acceptance by a respected community have been developed, in which we have faith. But this is a rational faith, grounded in experience. Even so, we all get lazy some times. If the proper "rituals" (citations that don't quite support hypothoses, or math that makes ungrounded approximations) are performed, we sometimes lose our critical edge and accept what we shouldn't.

Njorl
 
  • #6
Faith Doesn't Mean To Believe Without Thinking ... But it Has A Very Close Meaning to that.

Faith Means Believe ... But You Are Allowed To Wonder Why , Tis Means , You Have To Believe , But you have The choise ToWonder Why ...

That's Waht Faith Means For Me .
 
  • #7
STAii
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In complicated science, there is no place for faith, since everything has to be prooven to be true, and i don't see where the faith comes.
Another thing that happens in deep science is that things can be prooved right some day, but prooved wrong the day after it (When new data is present), so if someone had faith in the old theory/idea, you will be facing a problem.

But faith comes in the basics of science, i somehow see that an Axiom is somehow scientifical faith.
 
  • #8
Mentat
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I always preferred the Bible's definition of Faith:

"Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demostration of realities, though not beheld" (Hebrews 11:1).

I think this sums it up pretty well. Science is not based on faith, because the "demonstration of realities" is beheld.
 
  • #9
(Q)
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Faith is also defined as complete confidence in a person, plan, etc.

With this definition, scientists have faith that the natural laws of the universe should always produce the same results. Based on those laws, scientists have faith they can predict results within a high degree of accuracy.

If their predictions turn out to be wrong, it is usually not a case of having bad faith, so to speak, but instead, a mistake in calculations.
 
  • #10
Les Sleeth
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(Q: I just saw your post, and I say essentially the same thing. But since I already wrote it out . . . )

Faith is not not necessarily belief without reason. Part of the problem for a discussion about faith here is that Kerrie has not told us exactly what she means by it. There is the kind of faith applied in religion, which most people probably would say has no place in science because the ideal of science requires beliefs to be guided and limited by evidence.

If considered apart from blind faith, a more general meaning for faith is confidence. One can see that variety of faith in everyday life, it is an essential part of nearly everything we do. We have faith, or confidence, in that which has demonstrated it works. That is why we trust elevators to lift us stories above the ground, take a credit card to pay for something, sign up for computer training classess, and hundreds of other activities which have proven they can help us function in life.

People also have faith in authorities[i/] for the same reasons . . . we know they specialize in fields we need to work with but don't have time to become expert in, and so we rely on authorities to advise us.

Science is a field that has overwhelmingly demonstrated its ability to "work." So I believe we should have complete faith in science to do what it has shown it can do. Beyond what it has shown it can do however, I have no faith in it whatsoever, nor anything else that hasn't demonstrated its capabilities. And I think it is a good thing for people to challenge anyone advocating blind faith wherever they find it, even in science.
 
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  • #11
Loren Booda
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If science (e. g., evolution, big bang) is seen as a product of God, faith may set a basis for that pursuit of knowledge. Science to me is one of many aspects of a Creator. Non-scientific faith conflicts with science by its very nature, but these may be resolved by the individual in his overall beliefs.
 
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  • #12
LURCH
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Originally posted by Kerrie
How much faith is put in science? I addressed this question in PF 2.0...for now, I will leave this question open ended...

If I read the question correctly, Kerrie is definitely using the definition of faith that means "to have confidence in a thing". If that is indeed the question, I would say that modern society places a great deal of faith in science. However, this confidence seems to be decreasing somewhat.

It seems to me that in the '50s and early '60s, every time a problem came up (environmental degradation, energy crisis, food shortages, diseases, etc.) the immediate reaction of most people (especially in western culture) was to turn to science for a solution. It was commonly believed that no problem would ever confront mankind that our scientists could not resolve.

Around the turn of the millennium, that very high regard and optimism for the promises of scientific discovery has calmed down slightly. Nevertheless, it is our natural tendency to seek scientific solutions to most problems, and to believe that those solutions will eventually be found
 
  • #13
When our scientists pursue a material-cause for everything, then we need faith in their own belief that 'everything' has a material-cause.
 
  • #14
quantumdude
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Originally posted by Lifegazer
When our scientists pursue a material-cause for everything,

Which is never, as has been explained to you many, many times.
Science is about pattern recognition and prediction of experimental results and nothing else.

The only belief that is essential is that the laws of physics do not change from place to place, time to time, and person to person.
 
  • #15
FZ+
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Originally posted by (Q)
Faith is also defined as complete confidence in a person, plan, etc.

With this definition, scientists have faith that the natural laws of the universe should always produce the same results. Based on those laws, scientists have faith they can predict results within a high degree of accuracy.

If their predictions turn out to be wrong, it is usually not a case of having bad faith, so to speak, but instead, a mistake in calculations.
No. The closest thing to faith in science is the assumption that all currently calculated "natural" laws are false. What matters is comparatively how one law is by observation more false than the other. If these predictions turn out wrong, you find another theory. At least, ideally speaking. An assumption of "mistake in calculations" undermines the idea of peer review, and appeals to unscientific dogma. We don't have faith in a theory. We say we have nothing better at this time.
 
  • #16
Phobos
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I posted back in PF 2.0. Here's the Reader's Digest version...

Here are the faiths of science...
(1) The universe exists.
(2) The universe works according to certain laws (patterns).
(3) Those laws are understandable.

The rest is tested.

Sure, one could argue that a scientist has some level of faith in the conclusion of others (every scientist cannot personally re-test every scientific law and theory). But there is no "authority" in science. Conclusions are based on a consensus of experts...experts who do re-test things under their specialty and make modifications to theories when needed.
 
  • #17
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Nope. The faith does not extend to the belief that there is a material explanation for everything. That is not required of science. The assumption that is made, with a nod to Karl Popper, is that all theories are imperfect, that there is no such thing as a brick wall to science. Spiritualist explanations provide an intellectual dead end and hence is disallowed by science. It's an effect, not a cause. Whether this assumption is faith depends on your definition. In terms of belief without evidence it is not. In terms of an assumption with confidence it is. And the confidence is not absolute, as we still don't say for sure non-material does not exist. So the point is very arguable.
 
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  • #18
Loren Booda
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Because of our limited intelligence, at least initially we must assume most scientific facts on faith until (if ever) we have the opportunity to test them.
 
  • #19
Adam
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ARGH! What the hell is all this religious drivel? I thought this was PHYSICSforums! Good grief.

Religion = organised superstition.

If I wanted to read about that stuff, I'd go to religionforums.
 
  • #20
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Originally posted by Loren Booda
Because of our limited intelligence, at least initially we must assume most scientific facts on faith until (if ever) we have the opportunity to test them.
Correction: "scientific facts" without the opportunity to test them are not facts, but hypotheses/postulates. If we have confidence something to be a fact without testing, then we show faith. If we plan later to test it, and keep trying to disprove it, and instead show that IF x is true y MUST be true, that is not faith.
 
  • #21
zimbo
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Originally posted by Phobos
Here are the faiths of science...
(1) The universe exists.
(2) The universe works according to certain laws (patterns).
(3) Those laws are understandable.

The rest is tested.

I agree with those. I would have added that we have faith that those laws of the universe are fundamental and unchangeable over time. (Hence scepticism about induction: So far, each time I drop a piece of paper in my room, it falls. But am I using faith when I believe that the same will happen whenever I do it in the future?)
 
  • #22
Kerrie
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i left this question open, because it seems the more vague a comment is the more people have to say about it...

anyway, i believe there is a minute amount of faith we put in science, in the consistencies we are accustomed to, but that leap of faith is certainly much smaller then say the faith we are told to put in god...

also, we as people put a certain amount of faith in the scientists to do their work objectively and honestly...which leads me to another topic...ethics in science...
 
  • #23
(Q)
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Kerrie

but that leap of faith is certainly much smaller then say the faith we are told to put in god...

Excellent point – but it is a different kind of faith, which is a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. Unlike the sciences, the kind of theological knowledge we must have faith in can be interpreted in so many ways. And each version is just as valid as the next. No one interpretation can be stated as the absolute rendition.

If for example, every scientist had a different interpretation of relativity, how could anyone find any possible use for the theory? It would become so diluted that eventually be rendered meaningless.

Herein lies the problem with the varying interpretations of gods. Each person’s version of a god is more or less meaningless to another. The moment they try to accept someone else’s interpretation of a god, there own rendition loses all meaning for them.
 
  • #24
Mentat
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Originally posted by Phobos
I posted back in PF 2.0. Here's the Reader's Digest version...

Here are the faiths of science...
(1) The universe exists.
(2) The universe works according to certain laws (patterns).
(3) Those laws are understandable.

The rest is tested.

Sure, one could argue that a scientist has some level of faith in the conclusion of others (every scientist cannot personally re-test every scientific law and theory). But there is no "authority" in science. Conclusions are based on a consensus of experts...experts who do re-test things under their specialty and make modifications to theories when needed.

Actually, I would have to disagree with #1 and #2, as being based on faith. There is tangible proof that the universe exists. There is tangible proof that it works according to certain laws. #3 might be based on faith.
 
  • #25
Loren Booda
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quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Loren Booda
Because of our limited intelligence, at least initially we must assume most scientific facts on faith until (if ever) we have the opportunity to test them.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Correction: "scientific facts" without the opportunity to test them are not facts, but hypotheses/postulates. If we have confidence something to be a fact without testing, then we show faith. If we plan later to test it, and keep trying to disprove it, and instead show that IF x is true y MUST be true, that is not faith.
That's a fact.
 
  • #26
quantumdude
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anyway, back to the topic...

Originally posted by Phobos
I posted back in PF 2.0. Here's the Reader's Digest version...

Here are the faiths of science...
(1) The universe exists.
(2) The universe works according to certain laws (patterns).
(3) Those laws are understandable.

I would agree with zimbo when he says...

Originally posted by zimbo:
I agree with those. I would have added that we have faith that those laws of the universe are fundamental and unchangeable over time. (Hence scepticism about induction: So far, each time I drop a piece of paper in my room, it falls. But am I using faith when I believe that the same will happen whenever I do it in the future?)

And even to that, I would add that the laws are the same everywhere. This one was challenged a surprising number of times at PF v2.0. What makes us so sure of it?
 
  • #27
LURCH
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Originally posted by Mentat
"Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demostration of realities, though not beheld" (Hebrews 11:1).

I think this sums it up pretty well. Science is not based on faith, because the "demonstration of realities" is beheld.

I think this is an excellent disription of the faith modern man places in science. I would wager that most of us here are fairly confident that medical science will eventually discovered a cure for cancer. This confidence is "faith" as described by the biblical passage above. There is "evident demonstration" in the fact that medical science has solved many similar problems in the past. However, no one has ever "beheld" medical science actually finding the cure for cancer.
 
  • #28
Loren Booda
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Mentat
I agree with Adam here. Faith may be involved in the first two steps of the Scientific Method (the ones I attribute to being in the realm of "Philosophy"), but it has no place, after experimentation.
Would one define "after experimentation" as when the wavefunction has "collapsed"? Are faith and physical reality then antithetical? Does the wavefunction represent faith before experimental measurement?
 
  • #30
Mentat
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Originally posted by LURCH
I think this is an excellent disription of the faith modern man places in science. I would wager that most of us here are fairly confident that medical science will eventually discovered a cure for cancer. This confidence is "faith" as described by the biblical passage above. There is "evident demonstration" in the fact that medical science has solved many similar problems in the past. However, no one has ever "beheld" medical science actually finding the cure for cancer.

Actually, you (and njorl, in a previous post) are describing faith in the possibilities of scientific discovery. However, this is not the kind of "faith in science" that I thought Kerrie was talking about. I thought she was talking about how much faith is involved in actual scientific study.
 
  • #31
In my opinion, faith in science is based on the postulates collected from experiments(although such experiments don't neccesarily have to be done in the physical world: i.e, metaphysics).


Originally posted by Mentat
"Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demostration of realities, though not beheld" (Hebrews 11:1).


I agree with that scripture. But when you relate it to "faith in science", I don't believe "though not beheld" applies to all aspects of science, but metaphysical aspects of it. Or have I interpreted it wrong?
 
  • #32
Psyber freek
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no, I don't have any 'faith' in science. There's no point to it. After all, science in man's creation and science will die along with mankind.
 
  • #33
true, psyber freek. but, the context of "faith in science" refers to now, while humans still exist.
 
  • #34
Kerrie
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i think humanity continues to have "faith in science" (not the same perspective as i intentionally meant) because it is the only "truth" we can "rely" on for now...
 
  • #35
Edit: Humanity relies on the results of science.
The definition of science is...
The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

~from www.dictionary.com

So, does humanity rely on "the observation indentification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical explanation of phenomena"? I think not, but the results of it. But then, in the end, these results are functions of science.
 

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