On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 2:45 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 5/10/2013 12:11 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
> On May 10, 2013, at 1:24 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 5/10/2013 10:58 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
> On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 12:03 PM, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, May 10, 2013 Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
>> > How could a pseudo-religion, fake by definition, be superior to
>> Well, I'd rather be a fake moron that a real moron, wouldn't you?
>> > And why should a religion be illogical?
>> Because if it deals with big issues as religion does and it is not
>> illogical then the word for that is not "religion" but "science".
> Religion is a set of beliefs which cannot be proved. Science is a means
> by which one might arrive on such a set of beliefs. Life requires making
> decisions but as science never provides 100% certainty on any idea, science
> can never tell us what course of action is correct. For that we must fall
> back to our beliefs and hope our decision was right.
> That's a very strange formulation? Yes, science is a means of arriving at
> a set of propositions that cannot be proved, but so is astrology and
> numerology and even just making stuff up. But science is right much more
> consistently than other methods and that's what distinguishes it - not the
> fact that it's not certain.
> My point is that even with good methods of arriving at beliefs (such as
> science) we never get certainty.
> Sure. It's even true in mathematics and logic, which unlike science do
> purport to prove things:
> Yet any time we make a decision we must base that decision on some
> belief as if it were true, which is not scientific (but religious), as it
> depends on unprovable beliefs.
> You're creating a false equivalence between science and religion (maybe so
> you can tell John Clark he's really religious; he likes to hear that. :-)
They are not equivalent, but there is a relationship between the two. It
is like Bruno says, science is the tool and religion the goal. Or what
Einstein said, where religion sets the goals and science helps realize them:
"Now, 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."
> This wrong in two respects. First, it is not necessary to assume some
> proposition is true in order to act. If I bet on a poker hand I'm betting
> it's better than my opponents hand - but I'm not assuming or believing or
> depending on that that. I know I may lose.
You decision to bet is based on the belief that maximizing winnings (at the
expense of others) is good (and that the move has an expected value greater
than zero). Someone relying only on science could never be certain playing
poker was the correct course of action to make, for that you had to rely on
some (possibly wrong) belief that it is good.
> Second, basing a decision on some belief doesn't make it either
> religious or scientific. What makes it scientific is that it is supported
> by the preponderance of the evidence. What makes it religious is that it
> is based on the dogma of some religion, i.e. is based on faith in some
> supernatural revelation.
Here you are defining religion circularly as the dogma of some religion. I
prefer my definition of religion as a set of beliefs, as it is
non-circular, it can be applied to non-dogmatic, and non-revealed
religions, and it follows more closely with the definitions of Einstein and
Of course, you and John Clark may not like this definition, because it
shows how every rational thinker operates according to some belief and
value system, which cannot be justified by science.
> E.g., if a doctor asks you if you want a digital brain prosthesis, you
> must answer yes or no. Science may lead you to believe CTM is true and the
> substitution level us right, but you cannot know. Making the decision
> involves a leap of faith.
> No necessarily. I can bet CTM is more likely true than an alternative,
> without leaping to faith in either one. If I said "yes" to the doctor I
> wouldn't cancel my life insurance.
A bet being the result of a belief + some decision theory.
In any case, the "act" is unscientific because either choice represents a
presumption of knowledge, which we know we never have. Of course, the
practical considerations of life in this universe compell us to make such
decisions all the time.
> I'm not sure what you mean by religion provides beliefs which cannot be
> I did not say that it provides them. I said a religion is those set of
> beliefs. How you got them is another matter.
> Of course they are not part of an axiomatic system, so they cannot be
> proved or disproved in that sense. But they can certainly tested in the
> ordinary sense of "preponderance of the evidence". For example many
> religions include a belief that pious and sincere prayers will be
> answered. Double blind tests of this belief show it is not true. So maybe
> the reason they can't be proved is that they are false.
> Another reason is that nothing can be proved.
> I don't think believing is just an act of will that can be applied to
> any proposition though, at least that's not what I'd call believing. You
> seem to implicitly assume that we need certainty in order to act - which is
> obviously not the case.
> No, we never have certainty, so certainty is not required to act. But
> all decisions we make (consciously or not) are based on beliefs, which for
> the sake of the decision, we assume/hope to be true.
> No, we don't assume they are true. In fact we make many decisions
> subconsciously; so to say we believe some proposition is true in order to
> act is stretching the meaning of "believe".
As much as "unconscious decisions" stretch the meaning of "decide".
> It ain't so much what you don't know that gets you into trouble, as what
> you know that ain't so.
> --- Josh Billings
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