Faith vs Science?

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by usfan, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. usfan

    usfan Well-Known Member

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    This has to be one of the favorite topics for philosophical discussion, over the millennia. There are many terms, nuances, assumptions, and misunderstandings about these 2 things, and how they function in the human animal.

    I propose a philosophical discussion about this subject. Clarifying and defining terms will be Absolutely necessary.. we cannot assume the same things are meant in our terminology. These 2 terms are so loaded with preconceived biases, emotional baggage, and historical polemy, that just agreeing on the definitions may be impossible!

    Examples will help, and open consideration that what you mean by a particular term is not what someone else means. That will make long posts, so those looking for one liners or tweety answers will not like this topic. I'll provide my definitions of the terms.

    Faith
    This is so loaded with imagery, it may be impossible to arrive at a consensus about a definition. Mark Twain's definition is widely accepted by skeptics of supernatural beliefs.

    "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."

    It is a very cute one liner, with a humorous zing towards people of faith. But it is flawed and filled with assumptions. It may be accurate for 'blind faith', which defines an unevidenced belief, but it cannot be assumed that all matters of human faith are based on unbelievable matters of imagination.

    Merriam Webster:
    Definition of faith
    plural faiths \ˈfāths, sometimes ˈfāt͟hz\
    1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty lost faith in the company's president
    b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions acted in good faith
    2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
    b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof clinging to the faith that her missing son would one day return (2) : complete trust
    3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs the Protestant faith

    Context usually dictates how a term will be defined, but sometimes the fluidity of definitions can lead to one person insisting on a particular definition, regardless of context.

    For this discussion, i propose this application of the term:

    b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof. clinging to the faith that her missing son would one day return


    Faith, here, is contrasted with empiricism. I'm not talking about doctrines of a religious system, or fidelity, or loyalty, but the contrast with empiricism, or 'science'.

    So i will define 'faith', in this discussion, as, a belief in something without empirical corroboration. It is something without objective, empirical proof.

    Science
    This term is almost as loaded as faith, and some blend the 2 so any distinction is lost.

    Merriam Webster:
    Definition of science
    1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
    2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study the science of theology
    b : something (such as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge have it down to a science
    3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
    b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science
    4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws. cooking is both a science and an art.

    For this discussion, i propose this definition for science:

    3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method

    And i emphasize scientific methodology as the primary definer of 'knowledge', in this definition. ..not assertions.. not expert opinions, but empirical, proven concepts by sound scientific methodology.

    We are contrasting a non empirical belief (faith), with objective, empirical facts (science). Let us not get sidetracked with the irrelevant, non contextual definitions of the terms.

    Example:
    Human beings are rational creatures, and can consider abstract reasoning without emotion and defensiveness.

    Is this a statement of faith, or something that science can answer?

    I'll close with more examples to stimulate thought and discussion:

    There is a God.
    There is no God.
    Gravity is a fact.
    Man is evil.
    Man is good.
    Morality is relative.
    Everyone has faith.
    Humans can be purely empirical.
    2+2=4
    Human beings can separate their faith based beliefs from scientific facts.
    The origins of life and the universe are known, empirically.
    Life exists throughout the universe.
    The earth is billions of years old.
    The earth is thousands of years old.
    Man evolved from simpler life forms.
    Man was created complete and is unchanged.
    Human activity is destroying the earth's climate balance.

    Now, let us not get sidetracked debating these statements, but just categorize them as 'faith or science'.

    I hope for a rational, civil discussion about these things, but i know that they are hot button topics, for some. And, i know that threads like this are magnets for hecklers and religious bigots, who insist upon their beliefs as the only acceptable conclusion in philosophical opinions. I ask for civility and consideration of other posters, so the nature of our beliefs can be examined.
     
  2. Max Rockatansky

    Max Rockatansky Well-Known Member Donor

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    Mark Twain's famous comment aside, which is a discussion all by itself, your own definition is both agreeable and points out that even scientists have "faith" since they believe there are extraterrestrial species even though there is absolutely no factual evidence of life beyond Earth.
     
  3. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member

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    Science uses terms such as "Hypothesis" or "Theory" to very clearly indicate something is not "Known". Religion uses "Faith" to excuse the fact they believe they "Know". Granted some theories border on the "Known" but this is due to repeated confirmation through observation and experimentation vs. "Faith.
     
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  4. Max Rockatansky

    Max Rockatansky Well-Known Member Donor

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    True, but we're also talking apples and oranges. Science deals exclusively with the known universe. Things that are outside of it, such as what happened before the Big Bang, are outside of its purview.
     
  5. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member

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    What existed before the big Bang is also outside the purview of Faith beyond saying whatever God you choose did something that cannot be explained. Science at least admits to and embraces the "I don't know" concept instead of making something up.
     
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  6. Poohbear

    Poohbear Active Member

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    There has to be a certain type of faith in science IMO.
    Science believes in cause and effect, that is, every effect has a natural
    cause. But people have faith that science can explain the first effect
    when there was no cause. There was no cause because physics, maths,
    space, time, matter, energy etc did not exist.
    In challenging people on this they often resort to "I am sure that science
    will be able to explain it."
    That's faith.
    Science cannot provide a reason or purpose for the natural world. Science
    will say there was none. But like what came before the Big Bang, there
    should be an answer to this too. But by definition it cannot be answered by
    science.
     
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  7. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    You need to read Bertrand Russell's book "Western Philosophy".

    It will teach you that you must always keep separate your thoughts about Religion, Science, and Philosophy.

    They do not mix.
     
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  8. Poohbear

    Poohbear Active Member

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    They can mix if you understand what they are saying, and how they are saying it.
    For instance Genesis 1 gives the precise sequence of events leading to the formation
    of the world and everything in it. Only it's done in symbolic and theological terms.
     
  9. Beer w/Straw

    Beer w/Straw Well-Known Member

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  10. bricklayer

    bricklayer Well-Known Member Donor

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    Science is the process wherein doubt is removed by testing new and old ideas.

    Religion is the process wherein doubt is suppressed by resistance to testing new and old ideas.

    Faith is something else altogether. To understand faith one must understand what comprises a person. A person is a being with intellect, emotion and volition. Faith involves the entire person: intellect, emotion and volition. Faith is a complex of understanding, trust and identity. Understanding is the intellectual aspect of faith. Trust is the emotional aspect of faith. Identity is the volitional aspect of faith. To the extent that one understands a thing, trusts that thing and identifies with that thing, that one has faith in that thing.

    Love is similar. Love also involves the entire person. Love is a complex of understanding, affection and charity (to will for another as on wills for oneself). To the extent that one has understanding of, affection for and charity towards a thing, that one loves that thing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
  11. yguy

    yguy Well-Known Member

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    To limit science to that is to limit scientists to the role of fault-finders rather than discoverers of new truths about the universe.

    Perhaps Einstein said pretty much everything that needs saying about "faith vs science:

    Even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.​
     
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  12. bricklayer

    bricklayer Well-Known Member Donor

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    The closest thing human beings, including scientists, will ever have to proof positive of anything is experimental repeatability.
    Yes, that is exactly what scientists are, "fault finders". More accurately, scientists are not merely testers; they are recorders of their testing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
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  13. yguy

    yguy Well-Known Member

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    No it isn't, because if it were, they couldn't be discoverers as well; and moreover, such faith as Einstein refers to would be irrelevant.
     
  14. CourtJester

    CourtJester Well-Known Member

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    The belief in other life isn't really faith since it is based on probability. It is the belief that intelligent life is unique to earth because god created it is the belief based on faith.
     
  15. CourtJester

    CourtJester Well-Known Member

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    That faith is " the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existance are rational" has absolutly nothing to do with the faith that believing in a god requires.
     
  16. bricklayer

    bricklayer Well-Known Member Donor

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    Scientists test new and old ideas and things, then they record their findings. That's it. That's science. To the extent that scientists are also philosophers, they also come up with the new ideas and/or the new tests.
     
  17. Poohbear

    Poohbear Active Member

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    Religion is many things. Religious people put Jesus on the cross.
    The faith that Jesus spoke of is the PROVING THINGS FOR YOURSELF.
    Personal conviction begins with faith and through experiences and the
    "indwelling of God's spirit" a person proves for themselves.
    IMO Science is the corporate proof of natural things, and Godliness (not
    religion!!!!) is the personal proof of things.
    To push it further - in the bible it states that if all you have, for all your years
    of faith, is only faith, then you haven't learned anything of God.
     
  18. bricklayer

    bricklayer Well-Known Member Donor

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    Truth is that which corresponds to its predicate. Truth is what it is necessarily. Truth is an implication. Proof is an inference. The closest thing we will ever have to proof positive of anything is experimental repeatability. To us, its never so much that ideas are really ever proved to us as it is that all of the other ideas that we have considered have been, to our satisfaction, disproved. What remains is what we are left to believe. Then, that is tested, and so on, and so on. That is why I am careful not to say or write ' I believe'. I am careful to say or write 'I am left to believe'.

    Faith, on the other hand, is altogether different from belief. Belief is simple. Faith is complex. Faith involves the entire person. Faith is a complex of understanding, trust and identity. To the extent that one understands a thing, has trust in that thing and identifies with that things, that one has faith in that thing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
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  19. Gatewood

    Gatewood Well-Known Member

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    If the faithful just makes things up then why do Catholics celebrate various mysteries of faith? Or in other words; they admit that they don't know why. The problem here is that most atheists and agnostics are thoroughly indoctrinated in science from the standpoint that starting in about the seventh grade they got pounded with it in one form or the other until they were done with high school; but no so with religious training.

    Public schooling has no truck with religion by law and so that means that citizens either get serious and formal training at their worship place or in the home or not at all; and that can range from next to nothing to quite impressive in nature. When all is said and done, however, the average citizen probably receives eighty percent more formal training in various aspects of the sciences than he or she does in structured and formal religious studies.

    This generally includes the atheists and agnostics posting against religion; in that essentially they comparatively don't know about religion aside from relatively shallow exposure or training. Or in other words agnostics and atheists don't KNOW, but nonetheless they have . . . faith.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
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  20. Max Rockatansky

    Max Rockatansky Well-Known Member Donor

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    Again, apples and oranges. Do you really think your love of others can be quantified, analyzed and reduced to a number because all you really are is an ambulatory meat computer responding to biochemical programming? An organic machine with no more value than any other machine?
     
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