On 3/11/2012 11:38 PM, acw wrote:
Some of those beliefs can be greatly justified by evidence, while others are unjustified. All of them are provably unprovable, even given the right evidence. Some of them can be believed with high confidence given the right evidence, others match certain heuristics which indicate a likely to be true theory (such as Occam's Razor), while others fail such heuristics and yet are still believed by less rational means (authority, indoctrination, etc).

I think you got to far when you refer to things supported by lots of evidence as "assumptions" and "provably unprovable". Are you applying mathematical standards of proof to empirical facts? Of course they are unprovable in that sense. But mathematical proof is only relative to axioms and rules of inference anyway.

If you're on a jury in a criminal trial you don't look for, and would not accept, an axiomatic proof of guilt. You look for a proof beyond reasonable doubt based on evidence - and there are plenty of "assumptions" that meet that standard. The standard for science is somewhat higher, because it requires that you test your assumptions to see if they can be made to fail and it never reaches a fixed conclusion, as a jury must. But to dismiss scienctific knowledge as "provably unprovable" and "assumptions" on the same level as religious myths is silly.

As to why religious myths are widely believed and (unlike math and science) culturally dependent I highly recommend Craig A. James book "The Religion Virus" and the similarly named but different "The God Virus" by David W. Ray.

Brent Meeker
Religion has the exact same job assignment as science, to make sense of the world, that's why science and religion can never co exist peacefully Science changes its stories based on better evidence, religion writes its stories on stone tablets.
      --- Bob Zannelli

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