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Scientist's use belief/faith too?

  1. Jul 25, 2011 #1
    First off let me say those are NOT my words. I'm debating someone who thinks that the statement in the thread title is true. I asked him to show me where the faith step is in the scientific method. He posted some definitions and a statement to follow it up which you can see below in quotes. Can anyone explain why he's wrong? I've heard a lot of people throw this idea around that science is a belief system too....I want some better debunking skills because my explanations dont' always come through it seems.

    "Check out the definition of belief… 2 of the 3 definitions have nothing to do with religion. The belief a predetermined result will occur is a HYPOTHESIS. If the human brain has a 6 second delay behind what you think and when you are aware of it, then how can a scientist not affect the outcome of an experiment if they don’t believe it will yield a result.

    An experiment is the observation of results. It’s the assumption of the result which sets the stage for the experiment. You start with a hypothesis(belief) and then analyze the result. Both parts require a belief system otherwise there would be no desire or justification to seek out the answer."
     
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  3. Jul 25, 2011 #2

    Evo

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    One relies on facts and results - Science.

    One is a belief in the supernatural, no facts, no results - religion.

    Not even close.

    I'm going to go get my first cup of coffee and let someone explain it better. If no one cares to take the time, I'll try to dig up one of the old threads.
     
  4. Jul 25, 2011 #3

    Ryan_m_b

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    It all depends on your definition. I don't agree that a hypothesis is a belief, if somebody asked me what I thought caused X I can suggest reasons without believing that they are actually the reason. It's because of this that your friend's argument is flawed.

    Better and more useful definitions:

    Belief: Holding a premise to be true
    Hypothesis: Proposed outcome to an event
    Evidence: Data that indicates the truthfulness of a premise
    Faith: Belief without and often in spite of evidence

    Also whether or not individual scientists have faith is irrelevant to whether or not the scientific method employs it.
     
  5. Jul 25, 2011 #4

    micromass

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    In my opinion, everything requires a belief, to a certain degree. I am looking at my computer screen, but does that computer screen really exist? Can I really trust my senses? I say yes, but it's a belief that I have.

    The thing is (in my opinion) that science requires a minimum of belief. That is, you got to take a very small leap of faith, and everything follows. What is that leap of faith that you would have to make? Well, you'll have to belief that experiments you do will tell you something about reality. For example, if I throw a stone 1000 times in the air and it falls 1000 times, then I need a leap of faith to say that it will fall every time. However, that belief I need to make, is very very small.

    When dealing with the paranormal, you need to make a much greater leap of faith. For example, you'll need to believe that ghosts really exist. It's not that you can actually test that ghosts exists, but I need to accept it. This is why ghosts are unscientific. Does that mean that ghost don't exist? No, it just means that ghosts cannot be studied by science. And in my opinion, if something cannot be studied by science, then it is irrelevant to think about.
     
  6. Jul 25, 2011 #5

    Ryan_m_b

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    I think the difference between the beliefs you listed and belief in the paranormal micro is that you hold your beliefs due to evidence. You believe the computer in front of you to be real because you have experience with computers, experience with how they should act and experience of things being real. If I were to show you that your computer was not real, perhaps because I've put some pretty weird drugs in your food then you would alter your belief based on evidence.

    Faith is the denial of evidence so that belief might be preserved. If you had faith your laptop exists then no matter how much I showed you that you were drugged, that you never bought a laptop and that laptops don't even exist you would still hold the belief.
     
  7. Jul 25, 2011 #6

    phinds

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    The fundamental difference between science and religion is falsifiabliity. Scientific theories and hypotheses are falsifiable and religious ones are not.

    Belief has nothing to do with science, it's based on evidence. Belief has EVERYTHING to do with religion, since it is not based on evidence.
     
  8. Jul 25, 2011 #7

    Evo

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    Found an article that stays within our guideliens and basically sums up everything said above.

    Science is *evidence* based.

    http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/science_religion
     
  9. Jul 25, 2011 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    That is false. Some people may apply faith in that manner but it is not a definition. Belief without proof is not the same as denial of evidence.
     
  10. Jul 25, 2011 #9

    Ryan_m_b

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    It is a definition but it doesn't apply in all cases. All belief is without "proof" as we cannot prove anything beyond a priori statements, instead we have evidence that suggests one way or another. Faith is belief without evidence and often this manifests as belief in spite of evidence.
     
  11. Jul 25, 2011 #10
    The first point I would make xfinite – of course I do not know who your correspondent is and it is just possible that they might have an open mind, but the experience of dozens of similar exchanges on a multitude of different forums has to tell you that the strong probability is that they do not. Most who take that kind of line of argument are not interested in listening to reasoned argument, and if you are thinking you might persuade your correspondent to your view, the overwhelming likelihood is that you are heading for a big disappointment. Of course, I have encountered many who know fine well that they will not persuade those of the differing viewpoint, but derive some pleasure that escapes me from the argument. If you are of that kind then the best argument, it seems to me, lies in what science has achieved. There are around the world what – I don’t know – tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of highly qualified life scientists who have put in the hours of study over several years, but much more centrally, who have then applied what they have thus learned and achieved the most extraordinary things. That, surely is the tangible evidence that their efforts are based on much more than just beliefs. If you want a fine example of what I am talking about, Ryan has recently been telling us of his connection with the team that have been developing synthetic materials that point towards the genuine prospect of making artificial organs that might remove the problem of the shortage of organ doners. I just had a look but can’t find the thread – perhaps Ryan will be good enough to point you towards it. Ask your correspondent what he and his fellow believers have to equal that achievement.

    But I warn you, don’t expect your correspondent to be persuaded by that argument.
     
  12. Jul 25, 2011 #11
    Those definitions seem more accurate. He pulled his defintions from websters I believe.

    I actually had the same thought as your last sentence and mentioned it to him. That a scientist can believe anything he wants in terms of religion. But when it comes time to *do* science and use the scientific method those beliefs are checked at the door. If they aren't then typically what we have is "bad" science.....I think Im' correct on that.
     
  13. Jul 25, 2011 #12
    I'm not sure I agree. Believing that zeus will get me home safely tonight is very different then believing that if I bounce a ball 10 times applying the same force that it will rise to the same height every time.. Different types of belief I guess?
     
  14. Jul 25, 2011 #13
    Thank you for the response! I hear what you are saying. And I tend to fall into arguments where I catch myself trying to change a persons view by force. Which of course leads to a headache because really...how often does a person (especially on a public forum) fall down and admit they are wrong? I haven't seen it happen. So instead my hope is to just use examples to gently show someone they are incorrect without getting emotional. The problem with this particular person is that even when I point out examples of amazing discoveries he finds ways to make it support his view even more. I feel like I'm trapped in cobwebs at times with the amount of side topics he'll bring up trying to make a point. By the end I've forgotten what we originally disagreed on!
     
  15. Jul 25, 2011 #14

    micromass

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    Different type of beliefs, for sure. Believing in Zeus takes more faith than believing that gravity works. But it's a belief nonetheless. Even if it's a very small belief.

    All I'm saying is that religion and science are two separate entities and should stay separate. It makes no sense that religion starts talking about science (and vice versa), since religion and science have two very different methodologies.

    The question if God exists can not be tested scientifically, so it's not a scientific question. It's a philosophical question. The question if gravity behaves a certain way can be tested through the scientific method. Thus it is a scientific question, so it may not be answered by religion.

    I like Evo's link by the way, it sums up everything I'm trying to say here.
     
  16. Jul 25, 2011 #15

    Evo

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    That's why it's pointless to get into an argument with someone that doesn't understand science and goes on faith alone. They can't/won't accept what you've said and will end up making word salad out of your explanation, making it useless to continue correcting them. They just keep spiraling into deeper levels of confusion. They're never going to accept what you're saying.
     
  17. Jul 25, 2011 #16
    Are there separate definitions for beliefs then? In the example I gave of believing Zeus will get home - there is no evidence for. But there there is evidence that the ball will bounce back to the same height....

    I agree with every thing else you said! Spot on.
     
  18. Jul 25, 2011 #17
    Yea, I need to stop getting involved in conversations/debates with people who think like that. I fall for it every time...
     
  19. Jul 25, 2011 #18

    phinds

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    Pointless line of argument. They have miracles.
     
  20. Jul 25, 2011 #19

    Ryan_m_b

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    Going with the definitions I gave at first they would both be beliefs however one of them would be a faith belief.
     
  21. Jul 25, 2011 #20
    This is an excellent link(url) that I fully support. I've used it quite often.:smile: Very valuable information on that website. Naturally, I'm a big fan of U.C. Berkeley! :biggrin:
    I also support this statement on that website:
     
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