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On the Necessity of Proving Things

  1. Sep 24, 2010 #1
    Why do some believe that things must be proven (rationally) in order be known as true?

    I ask this question because I have come to a realization that every philosophy and worldview is founded on unproven ideas. It is kind of like geometry, I think. There are theorems which are proven truths. But these theorems are based on "unproven truths" called postulates. Every belief is based on unproven ideas, even empiricism.For this reason (including others), I accept neither materialism nor empiricism to be true. Immaterial things could be just like the "unproven truths" (Christianity holds some to be revealed) mentioned previously. Just because something isn't proven (rationally) does not mean it isn't true.

    I think that there has been an unfortunate underestimation of intuition and other things excluding the intellect in many materialist and empiricist circles. Intuition is vital to any philosophy. Things must just be known. So, if this is the case, why should the revealed truths of Christianity be thrown away? Why can't faith and reason work together? Why does the intellect and the intuition have to be separate in our search for Truth?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2010 #2


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    I don't know many people that really believe that. People may try to convince you of that when they're trying to get you to see their point of view, but that's only half of science. Observation is the other half. Not just the strict experimental observation, either (which is more of a gateway between the inferred observation and the rational proof).

    Both proofs and observations can be wrong, but they're somewhat orthogonal to each other in that what qualifies as true for one does not qualify for true for the other: they lie on independent axes.

    For instance, I can infer that you're a genuine poster asking a genuine question. I know you're not a bot or a troll. I can't prove this formally, but I'm pretty unshaken about it. If some future observation came about where suddenly you looked like a troll, and another poster called me out on it... they wouldn't be able to prove it either. Even if they convince me to change my mind, we've only accepted a different inference. When mods ban and serve infractions at this site, they don't have to formally prove it.

    Rational proofs are more difficult to talk about being wrong. They are somewhat isolated from reality because we can never claim to have the universal set (the set of all "things"), but rational proofs have been very productive in predicting and confirming things within the bounds of our assumptions.

    You can choose yourself whether to throw it away or not, but if you're suggesting that science adopt Christianity, that's rather particular. Why not Hindu or Buddhism or Satanism? Is monotheism even appropriate? What about Zeus and Poseidon? Don't you think they'd be rather angry, given that they were around long before Tetragrammaton came along?

    The whole idea of "Truth" comes with a lot of baggage.
  4. Oct 18, 2010 #3
    They can, and do. These are not separate ideas, but facets of the discovery and rationalization process. This "intuition", however, as Pythagorean so aptly pointed out, needn't necessarily be defined by specifics such as Christianity. There is an idea that is prevalent in AA. It speaks to the idea of a "god of your understanding". This could be something as blatant as the Holy Trinity, or as subtle as a question mark. Reason requires faith to thrive, and visa versa.

    When we discuss abstract ideas such as physics and math, we get our proofs based on the "faith" or "belief" that what we were taught is or is not true. Similarly, when we discuss ethics and morals, we naturally require some factual basis or representation to build our personal codes upon. They are intertwined hopelessly, and to accept one while shunning the other is to devolve intellectually.


    "An open mind is the best traveling companion."
  5. Oct 18, 2010 #4


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    This thread slipped through the cracks. We do not discuse the truth or lack theroF of any specific religion.
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