Eliminating Faith and Beliefs About the Nature of Nature
Posted by pwl on August 2, 2010
”Faith is belief in the absence of evidence, science is belief in the presence of evidence.” ‘When the evidence disagrees with a scientific proposition, the proposition is discarded. When the evidence disagrees with a religious proposition, the evidence is thrown out’. – Victor J. Stenger
I work to eliminate belief and faith from my life, now I’m not talking about the “belief” that I left my car parked in it’s spot and whether or not it’s still there, I know I left it there but it’s possible that it is no longer there for a variety of reasons all possible within the known limits of objective reality. I’m talking about the kind of belief and faith that asserts “truths” or “facts” or “aspects” of the objective reality of Nature, about the very nature of Nature itself without any evidence to stand on. That is the kind of belief and faith that is the most pernicious and dangerous. I prefer knowledge that can be verified or proven with hard evidence or even better, proven with experiment done by yourself.
The problem is that the word “belief” has SO many meanings and people often don’t mean the same thing by the word. In addition when talking with “believers” it’s a huge pile of dogma that you’re taking about when you use the word “belief”, it’s not just one belief.
The point Stegner is making is which determines what you accept as real, the faith based beliefs and dogma, or the hard evidence? If the beliefs and dogma determine what is real, that is religion, that is highly dangerous, that is what leads to delusions. If the evidence determines what is real that is science, that is rationality, that is being connected with the objective reality of Nature where we actually exist.
Of course it all hinges on what the evidence is. There is good evidence and then there is bad evidence and faulty proofs.
Many christians that I’ve spoken with consider the bible to be proof of their alleged god. The absurdity of that doesn’t even bother them when it’s pointed out.
As for hard scientific evidence often that is also lacking even in science. Take climate science for example, most people don’t know that the CO2 allegedly warming temperatures is based up on the weak concept of “statistical correlation” of alleged “climate models” (computer programs) rather than hard science such as physics. Not only that their real problems such as poorly sighted temperature stations, hand manipulation of the temperature data that isn’t documented in most cases, and the fabrication of data that just isn’t there, yup, they actually make up data for huge areas (1200 km diameter) where there is just one thermometer: the arctic, africa, asia for example. No kidding, and it’s Nasa staff making up the data and not even blinking twice about doing it (if I did that in science class at school I’d have failed and been reprimanded and possibly expelled). This “statistical” fabrication of data by Nasa has now been shown to be biased towards warming by up to 4c in the arctic! So when games like this are going on can the scientific “evidence” actually be “believed” or “accepted” or “trusted”? Heck even the process of verifying the accuracy of the data or vetting the statistical methodology has been a long and difficult ongoing battle between those scientists with a fixed agenda corrupting the climate science and those auditing their work seeking the highest accuracy possible given the actual non-manipulated observed data and the methods with the highest levels of scientific integrity.
Yet, regardless of the “conflict” in science over what the “best” world view (hypothesis/theory) is on any given topic the scientific method – when followed – can lead to the best possible factual and repeatedly verifiable hard evidence for that given hypothesis/theory. Or to falsify the particular hypothesis/theory. It can often take a very long time for humans even when they think they are being rational and scientific can still cling to ideas without giving them up even when the “evidence” suggests that they are wrong.
On the other hand it sometimes takes someone to stick to their guns in the face of overwhelming opposition and assert their hypothesis and to find the hard evidence that will – given time or the right circumstances – convince people that there is merit or truth in their hypothesis. Science history (past and present) is replete with examples.
The key comes down to the evidence, if there is any, how you interpret it, do you accept the evidence or not, do you even bother to question the evidence or not, can you verify the evidence, how so, can you repeat the experiment assuming there is one, do you if you can, or do you just accept the claims of others on their say so?
Modern technical life is replete with examples of each of these scenarios and more.
We rely upon others to tell us what drugs to take, what is real and what is not real, what facts are true or not, it’s a minefield of beliefs, assertions, faith, distortions presented as truths, media promoted, packaged and sold 24x7x366x…. It is a battle field for your mind.
Rather than filling the “gap” in our “knowledge” or “beliefs” about something it is often more healthy to be honest and say the four magic words “I do not know” and often followed by “and I will attempt to find out if that is possible to do so given time and resource constraints assuming it’s important enough to find out.”
There is a boundary between that which is actually possible and that which is outside the bounds of what is actually possible. This boundary may not always be clear and there in lies the problem, there in lies the opportunity for those who want you to believe in the impossible so that they can take advantage of you and your wallet or your mind share.
Can you jump to the surface of the moon from the surface of the Earth and back again without using any technology and survive? You can have clothing but no space suit, no machines of any kind, no drugs to enhance your performance (as if that would help). The answer turns out to be no you can’t. It’s not possible in this universe as it is for a human being to jump from the surface of the earth to the moon. Using the known laws of Nature we can even prove that this is impossible. School kids will know it by Gravity Sucks and that is why you can’t. Also no air to breathe. Oops, that’s a certain death assuming you could even get to space, but there is that sucking gravity again. Newton and Einsteins would lend some accuracy to the proof with their equations but it hardly seems necessary to invoke those in the light of the fact that Gravity Sucks and Air is so precious. However, if you want to know how high someone would get trying (remember no drugs so it’s the other high we’re talking about) then Newton or Einstein are necessary. The science of bio-mechanics might also help show what is the likely maximum that humans can jump.
So there is much to learn and much to unlearn and eliminate as nonsense beliefs or faiths that we might give safe harbor to. It’s summer cleaning time. Clear out those beliefs that you don’t have evidence for – especially those that are about the nature of Nature (the universe) – and free your mind to be open to the possibilities of your life within the actually possible. Leave the actually not possible behind as you live a real life connected as much as possible within the objective reality of Nature.
Or believe in magical supernatural alien super beings that immorally torture those who don’t worship, or don’t obey, in hell fire for all eternity if you so choose but know that you’re outside the bounds of what is actually possible and highly delusional. Beliefs are not free, faith has a price and it’s price is your sanity, your clarity, your intelligence, your freedom of thought, your freedom from cult rule.