Mrs. Keradon wrote:
However, in some cases, there can be brought forth new evidence which causes a proven theory to be either given an exception (under certain circumstances), or to be shown as totally false. Before then, though, scientists had absolute ...faith... that this theory is true, based on those repetitions.
They did not have "absolute faith". They were very confident it was right, but they would never say they were absolutely 100% certain. That's how the real world works. And how, again, is it faith to accept that which is shown from empirical evidence? Faith in the religious sense by definition is the belief in that which is not supported by empirical evidence
. You're committing the fallacy of equivocation again, conflating the two very different meanings of faith: the colloquial usage of "trust" or "confidence", and the other, religious usage of "belief without evidence". Read Pronto's original post; the religious usage is the one being used in this discussion. While people may trust scientists or have confidence in their results, such trust and confidence is founded on experience and evidence, and it is not absolute.
It's very similar to the distinction between the meanings of "believe in" -- "have confidence in", or "believe in the existence of". When a person with low self-esteem says he doesn't believe in himself, he's not suffering from a severe existential dilemma. He's using the first definition: he doesn't have confidence in himself. Whereas if I said I don't believe in Santa Claus, I'm not saying the Jolly Old Elf doesn't have what it takes to deliver presents, I'm using the second definition: I don't believe he exists. Two very different meanings, and it is a fallacy to build an argument based on confusing the two.
Do pay attention.
They have confidence in these theories, based on these repetitions. But are they absolute truth?
Of course not. Have you read anything
I've posted about the matter? That absolute truth is impossible in the real world? Proof is possible in mathematics because we've defined mathematics; we've defined that universe. But not so for the real world, since the universe was not defined by us (if by anybody). Do you remember me posting about that?
Only religions have notions of "absolute truth". There is no such thing in the real world.
Before then, though, there was widespread belief...widespread faith... that he did indeed commited the crime.
The initial conviction was still based on evidence and logical inference. How is that faith? You can't get a conviction by going "I believe this person is guilty and I have no evidence to back it up but I have faith!" The only "faith" was confidence that the results were right, which is not the meaning of faith as we're talking about it. As I've Said Before.
When the new evidence was presented, then a new conclusion was reached.
That's how science works. That's how people behave every day without thinking about it.
Let's say I want a glass of milk. Based on what I currently know of this household and prior experience with milk, I conclude there will be milk in the fridge. So I go to the fridge and get new evidence in the form of a lack of milk, and am forced to change my conclusion to say that there is no milk. Is my original assertion that milk is in the fridge "faith"? I didn't make the claim based on nothing. I based it on evidence and prior experience. That my conclusion was wrong does not affect the fact that it was still logically inferred from given information.
At the time, this was considerably older than the universe was thought to be. The Big Bang Theory is a hotly debated topic, but some scientists did have some faith in it's validity.
The Big Bang Theory -- that, essentially, the universe was Very Small and then got Very Big -- is still well supported by evidence such as analysis of matter distribution and cosmic background radiation. That it happened earlier than we thought still doesn't mean it's entirely wrong.
And, once again, you've committed the fallacy of equivocation. Scientists have confidence in the validity of the Big Bang Theory, but such confidence is based on the evidence and the confirmation of predictions of the theory.
So thus, you have two opposing theories, based on acceptable scientific practices. Which do you believe, and which do you throw out?
Why not look at a bunch of bacteria, put them in different environments, and SEE IF THEY CHANGE FORM!
Wow! Testing hypotheses! Will wonders never cease!
You're still thinking that scientists just pull things out of their ass and run with it. When they make a statement about the real world, they test it!
They say, "well, if what I say is true, what sort of other evidence would I find?" or "well, if what I say is true, what sort of evidence would go against it?" and then they conduct experiments to find out if the evidence supports their conclusion. Let's say your theory says that the result of such-and-such test should be X. If the result is in fact X, then your theory gets that much more support. If the result is Y, work on the theory some more and try again.
It's the third point that's the core of my argument.
And since you screwed up the third point, that doesn't bode well for your argument.
There are various belief systems out there, whether it be scientific or religious. Each are based on the evidence provided whether it be through gathering of evidence through controlled experiments or through the interpretation of scriptures, documents...or personal experiences.
Like Pronto said, personal experiences aren't empirical evidence. They can't be shared exactly. You can still report them; psychologists do so in studies on dreams and stuff. (Although, they are usually if not always careful to say things like "x number of patients reported
having a dream about such-and-such". The report itself can be recorded and whatnot, even if the actual experience can't. But I digress.) But the beliefs of science aren't based off personal experience. Science is built up as objectively as possible, with people of all sorts of beliefs, all sorts of biases, all sorts of preconceived notions participating to provide evidence and analysis, to cancel out as much as humanly possible any bias based on personal experience. Does measuring something to 12 inches count as a personal experience? Does weighing? Does looking at a picture? Does listening to what someone says? These things can be shared. As I've said before, science is built on the same basic assumptions that you use every day to go about your business without getting killed crossing the street
: that the universe exists, that it is self-consistent, that it follows basic rules and order. People who believe otherwise tend to end up in the loony bin. If a schizophrenic were to tell you -- based solely on his personal experiences with voices and the like -- that there was an evil monster lurking in your oven, would you ignore him, or would you place his assertion on the same footing as "the world is round", even after looking in the oven?
Speaking of personal experiences, why haven't you answered my other questions about yours? What were the details of your visions/dreams? What did the ancient being look like? What is it like to fly? After your experiences, what made you conclude that you did, in fact, have a vision from a spirit or deity or whatever? Why did you not go "Hey, that was a messed-up dream"? Even knowing that dreams and tarot readings are very open to interpretation and that even improbable coincidences happen all the time, what led you to conclude that none of these things was the case? Why did you consider that it was more likely that a spirit was talking to you instead of your subconscious? As far as I can tell, the only apparent reason is wishful thinking: that the deity interpretation was more interesting.
Often times it is a certain choices that are made. In terms of science, it's the choice of the controls under which the experiment is given.
The choice of controls can affect results, yes. And? Scientists are trained on how to choose the most useful controls, that are least likely to give bad data. Experiments are done very carefully so as to minimize error, and there are many formal and informal ways to go about it. And the controls and expected errors are published along with the evidence, and are, in a sense, evidence themselves.
Given an alternate series of choices, you can sometimes end up with the same result/interpretation, or a different result.
That's why peer review -- having other people check your work, essentially -- is such an important part of science: it helps to be as objective as possible, and also helps to discover flaws in the methodology.
Also, science is full of people with differing interpretations. That's why scientists run experiments: to find out, as well as is possible, whose interpretation is right. There will always be debates and differences in the scientific community, but over time some things have been supported to the degree that they are on more-or-less equal footing as such statements as "the world is round" or "people can't walk through walls".
Moreover, "fact" does not mean "absolute certainty." The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. [...] In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.
Can a belief system, built either by doctrines of religion or theories of science, be rendered valid or invalid solely on empirical evidence or a lack of such evidence?
Uh, yes. It's why nobody sticks leeches to your arms to cure colds anymore. There was no evidence to support the assertion that diseases like the cold were caused by imbalances of bodily fluids. But there is no such thing with faith. With faith, things are believed to be true regardless
of what empirical evidence may or may not say. They have absolute certainty and refuse to budge even in the face of contradictory evidence, and make up ever-more-improbable excuses to cover for it when the real world disagrees with them.
And even doctrines of religion aren't based solely on faith. "The Bible says such and such" is a bit of empirical evidence: anyone can look at the Bible and read "such and such". Numerous religious organizations accept evolution as part of their doctrine
, considering it to be how God did his thing. But this part of the doctrine is based on the empirical evidence for evolution
. If it were solely based on faith, you end up with creationists*, who take it completely on faith that the universe is 6000 years old and that Noah's Ark once floated on the flood -- despite the mounds of evidence against such assertions, not to mention the (theo)logical argument used by many saying that the Christian God, being all-good and such, would not be a deceiver and thus would not fake all the evidence just to mislead rational and honest people.
And, in the end, it is possible to convince people, by using logical arguments, that faith is not a valid basis for belief systems. Their belief that faith is a valid basis for a belief system might not be a matter of faith; in other words, they don't have faith in faith, and when it is pointed out using logic and evidence that faith is useless in the real world, they discard it. I know that this happens, because it happened to me.* Please tell me you're not a creationist, or I might just have to shoot somebody.
Wouldn't there also have to be faith that such evidence is correct?
How much faith does it take to read a ruler or a scale, or to look at telescope or microscope images, or to watch a videotape, or to read the Human Genome analysis? And if there are any doubts, you can often test whether or not the evidence is correct: for instance, obtaining some yourself.
And also what about any new evidence that may be brought into play?
What did I say before about 100% absolute certainty? Scientists don't have it, only people who live by faith do. Science essentially, "So far, this is best explanation we can come up with. It explains the evidence we have so far and all the tests of its predictions support it." You've read this far; surely you can guess by now what happens with new evidence. If it fits the theory as is, no problem; if not, the theory needs work.
Occam's Razor, while a good rule to folow at times, tends to not allow for newer evidence to be considered above the minimum.
Do you even know what Occam's Razor even says? In a nutshell, "Don't make up new hypotheses if the old ones still work just fine to explain the evidence." If there's new evidence that the old hypotheses don't explain, you need a new one, or at the very least the old ones need tweaking. It allows for new evidence just fine. And, once again, you use Occam's Razor every day.
In my previous example, if there were no milk in the fridge, what would you conclude? That someone drank it? That burglars stole it and left no evidence? That aliens abducted it without a trace? The only assumptions needed to come up with the first conclusion are the knowledge that there are other people in the house who drink milk: a very likely and reasonable assumption. For the second, you have to posit a burglar who not only is capable of entering my house and stealing milk unnoticed, but who would also bother to steal milk and nothing else. This assumption seems incredibly unlikely and unreasonable based on what we know of the behavior and capabilities of burglars. The third requires the assumption that aliens with advanced technology not only exist but really want milk, which is completely unsupported by any evidence known, and is so unlikely as to not even merit discussion.
Now, if I had a security camera showing a burglar coming in from the ceiling Mission: Impossible
style and taking off with the milk, I would have new evidence, and would have to change my conclusion to state that a burglar took the milk. This conclusion would be based on my prior experience and evidence regarding the reliability of video surveillance, and the likelihood that the events depicted on the tape actually happened.
See how easy that is?
If not, I can elaborate further, if you wish, especially on any topic I might have missed.
So about those antlers...
And there are certain things we take on faith. 1 + 1 = 2 for instance.
Actually it's not really so much "on faith" as it is "by definition", but regardless, you're not going to prove it.
Why do you need to prove what is true by definition? That's like saying "prove that an isosceles triangle has two sides of equal length".
I would argue that a lot of science gets done "on faith" whether or not it's thought of that way. At least, research gets done that is only valid if certain widespread assumptions that scientists make are true.
Assumptions like "I'm not just hallucinating this microscope here" and "If E = mc^2 today, it'll still be that way tomorrow", which as I said are the same assumptions everyone makes in going about their basic lives. Question them if you like. Just be careful not to get killed crossing the street by thinking "Well, that Toyota might not actually exist" or "Well, maybe today I'll be able to pass through that Ford completely unharmed".
I guess the difference is that scientists have a habit of qualifiying their statements. ("Assuming that this is true... this is true also.") You tend not to see religions that state things like "Assuming there is a God, he's like this..."
Exactly, because scientists don't have the 100% absolute certainty, the unwavering faith, that religions do. They admit they could be wrong.