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The Faith Cake




 

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David Hume has an interest line of argument suggesting that science does in fact hinge on faith. It basically goes like this...

  1. All empirically-based claims of the sciences (such as in physics) are premised by the underlying belief that the past will resemble the future. (That is, results from an experiment done today predict how an identical experiment will result tomorrow. Or put another way., basic truths and rules of science are constant over time)

  2. Premise #1 is believed to be true because it has always been true. The past has ALWAYS resembled the future-- scientific facts have remained consistent throughout history. Scientific rules of the universe do not change.

  3. This fundamental premise of science- that the future will always resemble the past- is circular and has no rational basis for belief.

  4. Therefore, all science involving prediction of the future (as in physics, for example) are in fact grounded on a premise that requires faith.

In other words, we have no rational reason whatsoever to guarantee that the discoveries of science don't have an "expiration date" when they suddenly change or unravel. All science has a built-in assumption that is completely irrational and for which we have not a single logical argument-- except to say "we believe the laws of science are eternal.. because it always has been", which is really not an argument at all.

Absent that huge leap of faith, we are on the precipice of not knowing jack shit about the universe at all times.

I thought it was interesting anyway.

W

Science is the science of there here and now. Of the observable. I don't think you will find many scientific papers using "eternity" and "forever" in them. I think most scientists would answer the question of whether natural laws will break down at some point, with "We don't yet know" and perhaps the qualification of there is no evidence to suggest they will ever do so.

I think there is one piece of the irrational faith in science occassionally, and I think that that is the assumption that this is the only reality and other realities don't exist.

But that said science seems to slowly be mastering this reality.

meanwhile, faith stands still.

Also, Go Steelers!

I think there is one piece of the irrational faith in science occassionally, and I think that that is the assumption that this is the only reality and other realities don't exist.

To paraphrase a recent post...I don't think you will find many scientific papers using ruling out other realities. I think most scientists would answer the question of whether other realities exist, with "We don't yet know" and perhaps the qualification of there is no evidence to suggest that they do.

I think there is one piece of the irrational faith in science occassionally, and I think that that is the assumption that this is the only reality and other realities don't exist.

To paraphrase a recent post...I don't think you will find many scientific papers ruling out other realities. I think most scientists would answer the question of whether other realities exist, with "We don't yet know" and perhaps the qualification of there is no evidence to suggest that they do.

perhaps you are right x2.

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RedSeven,

I'm not sure you caught the point-- it's not that scientists don't provide caveats or claims about "eternity" and "forever", it's that all scientific claims are premised by the hypothesis that natural laws DO have consistency unless demonstrated otherwise, which has no rational (and/or empirical) justification.

W

Thank you for this, I watched the whole thing through and felt myself nodding all the way through.

It really is a shame that a lot of people demand everyone else share the Right faith.

Unfortunately, I have to include myself in that sometimes. I can't help picking at what look to be obvious holes in other peoples worldviews.

It'd be nice if they did me the return favour though and looked for the flaws in my logic. Defense may sometimes be the best form of offence, but Trench Warfare with Machine Guns is going to guarantee a stalemate.

My full list of thoughts are here http://thoughtsandmind.blogspot.com/2009/02/onegoodmove-faith-cake.html

The last minute of this edition is the single most important portion that needs to weave itself back into our society, collectively. I'll cross my fingers for good luck! ;~)

3. This fundamental premise of science- that the future will always resemble the past- is circular and has no rational basis for belief.
4. Therefore, all science involving prediction of the future (as in physics, for example) are in fact grounded on a premise that requires faith.

There is no need to make this a fundamental premise. We may simply operate under the hypothesis that the universe will will behave in the future as it has in the past. Using that as a working hypothesis, we can make predictions about the behavior of nature based on theories which have explained what has gone before. Should it happen that nature does not behave as it has in the past, we'll have to jettison the working hypothesis. No faith required.

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If our working hypothesis is that the universe will behave in the future as it has in the past, shouldn't there be SOME rational or empirical basis for this meta-hypothesis by which we ground all of science?

How is it different from the "working hypothesis" that "this thing God created everything, so lets just pick things up from there..."

Both seem to be premised on a kind of "hunch", but neither can be justified in any kind of rational or experiment-based way.

I suspect the human brain automatically makes this basic assumption about the universe because evolution has directed us to do so. And so we take it from there and without much thought natively assume our hypothesis is true.

...Because the alternative would be total irrationality, which has zero utility and we'd all die out pretty quick as scientists flailed on the ground questioning their working hypothesis regarding all science and expectations for the future in general.

W

I repeat, I not necessary to begin with the meta-hypothesis that that the universe will behave in the future as it has in the past. One may simply make observtions, analyze the observations, and readily infer that sequences of events in the more distant are are reproduced in the less distant past. The hypothesis that such event sequences can be expected in the future is inferred by noting that the hypothesis would have served well in the past, so - obviously - there is SOME rational or empirical basis for this meta-hypothesis.

It makes no difference whether this is the way scientists, or people in general, actually came up with the meta-hypothesis – that's a matter of debate. My point is that the meta-hypothesis arises as a simple matter of induction - no faith is required.

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Well, because in most scientific experiments, Time is relative. Delta-t rather than absolute-t. "Over delta-t amount of time, Y changed X amount" It doesn't matter what your start time is, the change is only relative to the starting time of the experiment. All experiments are not predicated on t=0 at Midnight of the year 1 A.D. For the word "future" to matter to scientific experiments, You would then be setting absolute time to T=0 at right now, and any time past now would not exist. Science doesn't work like that.

You could say, more accurately, that all science is based on the "faith" that the universal rate of change (time) will be the same in the future. But even that doesn't matter, since all experiments would be off by the same factor of delta-t, and adjustments could be made.

This arguement is mostly irrelevant navel-gazing anyway. each time i measure gravity in a vacuum on earth, it's the same. I'd rather use that for a metric when i jump out of a plane for what my trajectory will be rather than hoping with "faith" that this time i'll be wrong, and i'll fall at a rate of 1 yard per minute.

While I totally agree with him, most religions are nicely set up to handle his last question -- you need other people to believe in your religious system for their own sake!

You don't want them to go to hell, so you try to convert them.

It's a pretty powerful and insidious meme package -- questioning it is bad, and you need to save other people by passing it on.

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