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Why Is Science Based On So Much Faith?

  1. Dec 7, 2004 #1
    Why does science have such faith? I don't like faith. You take instruments made by someone else, made of parts of multiple people, calebrated by formulas equations and other instruments all working in unisone to provide an approximation of an answer you cannot see. You work with formulas which generate boxes of boxes which house a reality that is comprehended because it is taught to be so and provable within the box and yet out of all the words you see nothing. Science should not be based on faith as well as relgion. There is one way to understanding and one way alone..........
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2004
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  3. Dec 8, 2004 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    I'm wondering how in the world you got this on the internet if you refuse to use anything built by other people!

    "There is one way to understanding and one way alone.........."

    Would you be so good as to tell us what it is.

    Oh, wait, then we would have to have "faith" that you were correct wouldn't we.

    I guess I'll just have to work it out myself.

    Oh, golly gee, then I would have to have "faith" that I was correct!

    Dang, I'd better do like you and just sit in a corner doing nothing!
     
  4. Dec 8, 2004 #3
    Apparently he's joking?
     
  5. Dec 8, 2004 #4

    Kerrie

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    sorry to spoil your foolish fun TENYEARS, but i had to edit your garbage verbage out, but i do believe there is a valid point you are making here that i am keeping open with my changes :biggrin:

    yes, we do rely on our science to be accurate and ETHICAL. those who are pioneering science must prove themselves to be honest, ethical and as objective as possible. and if they choose to be educators, they must also practice these qualities as well, probably even more so.

    it is actually a good example for many (especially us americans) to follow in many choices we need to make in our lives; everything from choosing a mate to choosing political parties. science, however, is the base of establishing our "reality" from, whereas politics and relationships are stemmed from morals and opinions. we have no choice but to have faith in those setting the stage of our understanding of the universe, thus we hope they are the honest and ethical people we expect them to be.

    as individuals, we should question everything that we read, hear, and see. if we accept everything for what is fed to us, it would be easier to be led from the truths. question your news source, your favorite radio shows, authors of books/articles you read up on, etc. chances are their opinions are interlaced with the facts, and you have the responsibility of filtering out those opinions and absorbing the material for the facts.
     
  6. Dec 8, 2004 #5

    arildno

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    Note that a precondition of PROGRESS is to BUILD UPON the work of others.
    If we, as individuals, were to question EVERYTHING, and only accept as valid that which we personally have verified to be true, we would never, CONSIDERED AS A COMMUNITY, raise above the level an individual may come to from first principles.
     
  7. Dec 8, 2004 #6
    Hmm. Before the modedit, the OP was absurd and probably a joke. Now its just absurd. At least the uncertainty has been removed.

    It's still hard to take seriuosly. Take this quote:

    Who calibrates by an equation? That's rediculous. If calibration by someone else is such an issue, do it yourself. Then it's only one person, and you know how they did it. I calibrate some of my own instruments; why can't you?

    An answer you can't see? What could that mean? I can see the readout on any instrument I have. Is Braile being read by a blind person an answer you can't see? I guess the poster is making a sad attempt to wax philosophical over the existence of things you don't observe visually. That argument never lasts long anyhow.

    It's nice to have some flamebait, but it would be nicer if the poster knew anything about the subject... and could form a coherent paragraph without supervision.
     
  8. Dec 8, 2004 #7
    This is untrue. Reverifying hypothesis that have already been tested requires very little time - certainly much less than required to form the initial idea and come up with an experiment to test it. In getting my physics degree, I questioned and reverified many, many experiments in very little time.

    I rose far above first principles and (though it didn't seem it when I was there!) spent rather little time in the lab class doing it.
     
  9. Dec 8, 2004 #8

    Kerrie

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    you omitted any kind of reference to my closing point:
    this is in reference to news sources (more applicable to american sources) such as newspapers, television and radio, not for educational sources necessarily.
     
  10. Dec 8, 2004 #9

    arildno

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    And you questioned EVERYTHING pertinent to physics?
    I don't think so..
     
  11. Dec 8, 2004 #10
    No, you don't, but that isn't what is important. In this post you imply that there are too many pertinent things for me to have reverified, rather than the idea that there are only a few. I see no reason to accept this. In this way you hope to move the debate away from the phrase "first principles" (your words) and to something much more broad without anyone noticing. I suspect you also hope to bury the word "never," as it is a dangerous word that in this context is almost certainly indefinsible.

    This is not an effective argument. I still see no evidence that the first principles of physics cannot be questioned and verified in time to go on to new discoveries. In fact, with good education, I can see them verified quickly and efficiently, leaving plenty of room for newer material to be questioned and reverified.

    Maybe some examples would provide a stronger case for your argument than this maneuvering?
     
  12. Dec 8, 2004 #11

    arildno

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    Sure enough, although I want first to state what I mean a bit more clearly:
    1) I do NOT want to imply that we can never reach an adequate proficiency for the practice as a scientist. That is just silly.
    If I implied this, that's my fault.
    2) However, look at the following:
    When modelling some phenomenon by the use of differential equations, we are not primarily interested in the "strictly mathematical" aspects of the equation; i.e, questions of existence of solutions, uniqueness, the convergence rate of a particular approximation scheme, or even whether the chosen approximation scheme actually would lead to a convergent series solution, or yields, in fact, an asymptotic approximation representable as a wholly divergent series.

    That is why such concerns are termed "strictly mathematical" in the first place; although they are relevant (IMO), the detailed study of these issues is not strictly necessary in every single case you're working with.

    It is a more pressing concern to develop modelling skills, and develop an understanding of why a given approximation method (for example, WKB) is, for the most part, a mathematically justifiable technique than to get bogged down at every turn by some tricky and difficult convergence proof.


    Hence, my position is:
    Although, from a theoretical point of view, some difficult, "strictly mathematical" issues are, indeed, necessary to clear up in order to get a rock-solid foundation, the study of these issues is not necessarily (and, IMO, should not be) the province of the physicist.

    EDIT:
    When you are to, for example, devise a NEW method of approximations, such considerations certainly becomes directly relevant to a practicing physicist; i.e, you have to VALIDATE your method.
    However, when applying tried-and-true techniques to a new problem, which has been verified to obey some rough, necessary criteria for the applicability of the old method, you may go ahead, even if you haven't strictly proven that the problem falls under SUFFICIENT criteria for the validity of the method
    (such issues can be tough, but I maintain that they remain relevant in an abstract sense).
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2004
  13. Dec 8, 2004 #12

    honestrosewater

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    I just have two quick questions for some scientists out there:
    1) Given two explanations explaining the same event, would you choose the one containing the fewest or the most unnecessary assumptions?
    2) Do you ever perform tests in an attempt to prove an assumption is false or evaluate its correspondence with reality?
     
  14. Dec 9, 2004 #13
    It is not based on faith. It is based on trust. We trust the things they teach us because we can use them to get answers that "work". If the methods that were taught were not working, we would loose the trust in those teachings. This is why we do not trust the religious teachers anymore.
     
  15. Dec 9, 2004 #14

    arildno

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    Thank you, gerben for that distinction.
    A rational division of labour, in which we leave some of the work-load to others, is based on a trust that they are competent in doing their part, leaving us free to do ours.
    It has nothing to do with blind faith, after all..
     
  16. Dec 9, 2004 #15

    selfAdjoint

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    However I think you will find that scientists don't just accept ther equipment as it comes to them, but do experiments to validate that it does what it says and to calibrate it. My memory of my undergraduate physics labs seems to recall an awful lot of time spent calibrating.
     
  17. Dec 9, 2004 #16

    Kerrie

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    what makes a true scientist i suppose :smile:
     
  18. Dec 9, 2004 #17
    So I have touched a nerve with some. That is good it means you are not completely asleep. Any device used any word spoken which is not a direct experience to yourself is faith. In a court of law you would lose and lose badly. Faith - reliance or trust in. The whole system is built upon levels of trust/faith. It is a scary prospect is it not? You claim relgion is not based upon levels of understanding? This is the same with relgion for the non direct experiencers. You are many of them. You see what you fail to comprehned is that some aspects of religion actually is an expression of physics which is not yet understood. The true who are those who have experienced this are like those who you trust in science. It is one and the same. This is the truth if your understand it or not it does not matter. We attempt to understand what we are interested in and yet so many times we stop short of the goal. Why? The question is do you know that in your own field you have stopped short? The key to the path of knowlege is knowing that you do not know. Belief falls away like a husk and there before you lies the truth. Every path is different but the important thing is that we live in a vacum of the unknown when we do not understand. Only then will the truth be able to implode upon you. If any of you are honest you will understand this. Good night faithful. LoL
     
  19. Dec 9, 2004 #18

    honestrosewater

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    No, because, in science, everything can be independently verified. This is not the case in, say, revealed religion.
     
  20. Dec 9, 2004 #19
    Bull, you kid yourself. Who verifies the verifier? The one who is verifiing they to must use what the others use to correct? LoL To see it you only need to be honest with yourself. I imagine such a premise would scare the living daylights out of you if you truely took it to what it is. So what do you really know? Careful there is a large fish lurking. If you think these thoughts you will be it's meal in an instant and who knows how long it will be before you are spit out.
     
  21. Dec 10, 2004 #20
    No it is not scary. It is an adventure. We only experience what we experience. Such a thing as "truth" is not needed for our descriptions of the empirical world. The great thing is that we can predict and control aspects of the empirical world using logical models. It does not matter whether these models are said to have this quality you call "truth". There is nothing to be gained by doing that.

    Whether theories are felt to be "true" or not does not matter. The only thing that matters is that they work. I bet Newton did not feel that his theories were "true" he just guessed, and tried whether they worked. He probably did not know where his guess came from. There is no reason for something like "gravity", it is just a concept, defined to help us predict and control things in the empirical world we life in.

    There is no fun in: accepting that you know nothing and believing that that is the truth. It is just playing around with concepts in a useless way. It is more interesting to play around with concepts in order to try to get conceptual models that give you some control over the empirical world. You can do that only if you accept that your concepts may need to be replaced by once that give more control, and therefore they should never be given this nasty quality called "truth".

    So, faith?
    Well, for a while… until we tried, and only until we see it fail.



    "There are no facts, only interpretations."
    F.W. Nietzsche
     
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