Science and Faith

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.24.1200)]

Kind of an interesting editorial in the NY Times. The fellow seems to
think that science, like religion, is based on faith. In science it's
the faith that "..nature is ordered and rational". I think this is
bogus; I certainly don't assume that nature is ordered and rational.
If I have any faith at all it is in the fact that on can test models
against one's own experience;

It would be interesting to hear what people think of this piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?hp

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Kenny Kitzke (2007.11.24.1830 EST)]

<Rick Marken (2007.11.24.1200)>

<Kind of an interesting editorial in the NY Times. The fellow seems to
think that science, like religion, is based on faith. In science it’s
the faith that “…nature is ordered and rational”. I think this is
bogus; I certainly don’t assume that nature is ordered and rational.
If I have any faith at all it is in the fact that on can test models
against one’s own experience;

It would be interesting to hear what people think of this piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?hp>

You just can’t give it up can you? Testing models is your god. So be it. Then live your life by your models your experience. Why can’t you let others decide what they want to live their life by? Do you want to control my behavior?

I read Davies opinion. I read your opinion of Davies opinion. I could spend days writing about both your opinions. Opinions are like noses, everyone has one and everyone is different. Do you have a model to resolve the disputed opinions? Are your models ordered and rational but nature is not?

As an autonomous control system, you have the right to run your life by your opinion/reference perceptions unless they harm others. Can’t others do the same without disturbance and critique from you? That would seem consistent with HPCT to me. Of course, that is just my opinion. :sunglasses:

···

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[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.11.24.1915 CST)]

Gentlemen. The simple answer is that this is not a discussion about faith in a spiritual world. Nope. It is about where the order and rationality is. Probbly more in science than in religion. A bit more than in science than "nature." What Rick states is that he rejects the claim that science is based on faith, regardless in what. That science is a faith that nature is "ordered and rational." Seems to me a former Intelligent Design adherent (Intelligent Design got trumped by the Constitution this past year) and he is trying to equate faith in science with faith in some religious belief.

I would argue that science is ordered and rational, but NATURE is neither ordered nor rational. It is balanced, however. I am not a cosmic physicist, but I recall that This Universe is made of matter, but it could have been anti-matter. Had it been both, it would have self-annihilated. So, I guess by being made of matter it is temporarily in balance. I think also that the four forces seem to exact a kind of gravitational and atomic balance, too. There is a balance in the environment created by Cyanobacteria, credited with the first large-scale production of atmospheric oxygen. There has been a balance in the enviroment from then on, punctuated by asteroid falls, volcanic cataclysms, and plagues. But now we are seeing that balance tipped (like the ship in the Antarctic) so dramatically by human activity, that we are not sure what the next 20 years will bring.

Yes, nature is balanced, and the attempts to observe it are ordered and rational... or are they?

No, most of the observation that occurs is exploitive not ordered, seeing how much money a stand of forest can bring, or what amount of wealth can be derived from a copper vein in Per�, or what power can be gained by diverting the rivers that feed the Aral Sea/Lake/Puddle... And that sure doesn't make it rational, eh?

What was it that Kenny said? "Why can't you let others decide what they want to live their life by? Do you want to control my behavior?" You know that is the same thing that many people wish that religious social dominators would stop doing, too. Keep their ministers, elders, deacons and preachers like James Robeson, Rod Parsley, and Pat Robertson outa my life. Strangely, Kenny and I agree on that.

And that is why "Intelligent Design" and its flagship book Pandas and People fell smack on its face in Dover, PA this past year.

{http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/}

--Bryan

···

[From Kenny Kitzke (2007.11.24.1830 EST)]

<Rick Marken (2007.11.24.1200)>

<Kind of an interesting editorial in the NY Times. The fellow seems to
think that science, like religion, is based on faith. In science it's
the faith that "..nature is ordered and rational". I think this is
bogus; I certainly don't assume that nature is ordered and rational.
If I have any faith at all it is in the fact that on can test models
against one's own experience;

It would be interesting to hear what people think of this piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?hp>

You just can't give it up can you? Testing models is your god. So be it.
Then live your life by your models your experience. Why can't you let others
decide what they want to live their life by? Do you want to control my
behavior?

I read Davies opinion. I read your opinion of Davies opinion. I could
spend days writing about both your opinions. Opinions are like noses, everyone
has one and everyone is different. Do you have a model to resolve the
disputed opinions? Are your models ordered and rational but nature is not?

As an autonomous control system, you have the right to run your life by your
opinion/reference perceptions unless they harm others. Can't others do the
same without disturbance and critique from you? That would seem consistent
with HPCT to me. Of course, that is just my opinion. :sunglasses:

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.24.2230)]

Kenny Kitzke (2007.11.24.1830 EST)

Rick Marken (2007.11.24.1200)>

>Kind of an interesting editorial in the NY Times. The fellow seems to
>think that science, like religion, is based on faith. In science it's
>the faith that "..nature is ordered and rational". I

You just can't give it up can you?

Give up what? I don't think I've ever raised this question (about
whether science is based on the faith that the universe is ordered and
rational) before.

Testing models is your god.

I suppose.

Then live your life by your models your experience.

I will. And the conclusions I draw from them.

Why can't you let others decide what they want to live their life by?

Do you feel like I'm trying to keep you from deciding how you want to
live your life? Is it just me, or do you think there are there others
who are also trying to control your thoughts? I have the number of a
good shrink if you'd like some help with that.

Do you want to control my behavior?

No, just your thoughts;-) Kidding!

As an autonomous control system, you have the right to run your life by your
opinion/reference perceptions unless they harm others. Can't others do the
same without disturbance and critique from you?

If you don't want to have your opinions critiqued, I think you could
find safer places to express them than on CSGNet. Oral Roberts U might
be a good bet; I hear they're looking for a new President, even.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.24.2255)]

Bryan Thalhammer (2007.11.24.1915 CST)]

" What Rick states is that he rejects the
claim that science is based on faith, regardless in what.

Actually, that's not quite what I meant to say. I only reject the idea
that science is based on a specific faith (or assumption), viz., that
nature is ordered and rational (though I'd love to hear arguments to
the contrary, as long as no one tries to control my mind).

I'm open to the idea that there may be some kind of faith involved in
doing science. I think science may require one to have faith that
people's perceptual experience (including one's own) is based on a
real external reality. I'm willing to call that "faith" in the sense
that it is a belief that probably cannot be proven. What I
specifically reject is the more stringent "faith" in the idea
(proposed by the author of the target article) that nature (by which I
think the author means what I call "real reality") is orderly and
rational. I just don't think that that kind of "faith" is actually
necessary in order to do science. I think that the author's argument
about "faith in the order of nature" is based on a mistaken idea about
what science is.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2007.11.25,09:40 EUST)]
from Rick Marken (2007.11.24.1200)]

It would be interesting to hear what people think of this piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?hp

I think Paul Davies, the author, juggle with the words "knowledge about the
world" and "faith on the world/God". He writes certainly that "knowledge
about the world" is based on testable hypotheses in a way that "faith on the
world/God is not based on testable hypotheses.

I am not enthusiastic over the words "knowledge" and "faith". People too
often repel _each other_ saying: "Here we can't believe, here we must know".
I think it would be better if two people, wishing to perceive the world in a
certain way, expressed that my perceptions are testable and the tests I have
carried out support my theory. If you disagree with my theory, show me a
test that disproves my theory.

What PCT has thought me is that perceptions are silent events in the brain.
All the words we use to explain the silent events in the brain are our own
words copied from textbooks or eloquent people or imagined as Newton did it
when he put words on the apple falling from a tree (the last 6 words are
written to jazz up what I will say).
Scientists change their words about events in the brain, representing
objects and situations in the extern world, if tests tell them that the
words are wrong.

Religion is based on faith and very often religious people say that negative
tests don't disapprove their faith.

I don't think there is a conflict between Science and Religion. Scientists
and religious people control their perceptions on different levels.
Scientists control their perceptions on the principle level and religious
people control their perceptions on the System Concepts level. But very
often religious people control their perceptions on the principle level.
When they pour coffee in a cup, they hold they hold the spout just over the
cup. Then also they behave as scientists.

Paul Davies expresses: "The laws of gravitation and electromagnetism, the
laws that regulate the world within the atom, the laws of motion � all are
expressed as tidy mathematical relationships. But where do these laws come
from? And why do they have the form that they do?"
These questions show that he thinks his words about the world out there come
from the world out there. And my question would be if he can do an
experiment which bring new words to my brain without teaching me the words.
If he could do that, I had to change my theories.
Of course these laws are words Newton imagined and words we are thought from
textbooks.
His last question, "And why do they have the form that they do?", is
interesting. He should have studied PCT and MOL. Of course Newton gave them
the words because of background thoughts, a level up.

Paul Davies also expresses: "Over the years I have often asked my physicist
colleagues why the laws of physics are what they are. The answers vary from
�that�s not a scientific question� to �nobody knows.� The favorite reply is,
�There is no reason they are what they are � they just are.� ".
Here I think he has failed and not asked scientists knowing PCT.

When Paul Davies expresses: "A second reason that the laws of physics have
now been brought within the scope of scientific inquiry is the realization
that what we long regarded as absolute and universal laws might not be truly
fundamental at all, but more like local bylaws. They could vary from place
to place on a mega-cosmic scale. A God�s-eye view might reveal a vast
patchwork quilt of universes, each with its own distinctive set of bylaws.
In this �multiverse,� life will arise only in those patches with
bio-friendly bylaws, so it is no surprise that we find ourselves in a
Goldilocks universe � one that is just right for life. We have selected it
by our very existence.", he becomes religious. He is presenting thoughts
that are not testable.

I am glad Paul Davies is not an aircraft engineer.

bjorn

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2007.11.25.1055 CST)]

Yeap, I like the word confidence, assumption, baseline, starting point, which clearly removes any religious connotation that faith ultimately brings to a discussion.

Also, ordered and rational carry some connotations from 18-19th Century Rationalism that nature may not actually contain, except in the thought patterns in our minds that of course are part of nature. Is nature ordered? Not the last I heard, given chaotic structures we find in natural things. Right, chaotic systems are not orderly. Even crystalline structures are chaotic in their regularity, I do believe (I could be wrong). And rationality should only be on the part of our descriptions. You know, discussions of evolution, of geology often impose words like "developed X structure" and transitive verbs with ballistic subjects (the island developed...) that seem to induce an active role of something that is part of the maelstrom.

Your sentence "I think that the author's argument about "faith in the order of nature" is based on a mistaken idea about what science is." suggests that, yeah, we agree on all of this.

And may I say that a word space such as ours is a perception we each try to control by subsequent additions to the word space. We control the perception of the latest post by posting our own posts and replies. :wink:

So that is where I was going on that. I think you should agree about confidence, chaos and explanations of physical events.

Cheers,

--Bry

···

[Rick Marken (2007.11.24.2255)]

Bryan Thalhammer (2007.11.24.1915 CST)]

" What Rick states is that he rejects the
claim that science is based on faith, regardless in what.

Actually, that's not quite what I meant to say. I only reject the idea
that science is based on a specific faith (or assumption), viz., that
nature is ordered and rational (though I'd love to hear arguments to
the contrary, as long as no one tries to control my mind).

I'm open to the idea that there may be some kind of faith involved in
doing science. I think science may require one to have faith that
people's perceptual experience (including one's own) is based on a
real external reality. I'm willing to call that "faith" in the sense
that it is a belief that probably cannot be proven. What I
specifically reject is the more stringent "faith" in the idea
(proposed by the author of the target article) that nature (by which I
think the author means what I call "real reality") is orderly and
rational. I just don't think that that kind of "faith" is actually
necessary in order to do science. I think that the author's argument
about "faith in the order of nature" is based on a mistaken idea about
what science is.

Best

Rick
--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

from Fred Nickols (2007.11.25.1232 ET)

From Rick Marken (2007.11.24.1200)]

Kind of an interesting editorial in the NY Times. The fellow seems to

It would be interesting to hear what people think of this piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?hp

I read it. I don't know that I get it. To me, science has no faith nor can
it. Some scientists might be said to have faith but not science itself. As
for getting all scientists to agree completely on the nature of science...or
any underlying "faith"...I think that's been tried before and such efforts
never get anywhere.

So, for me, the piece lacks any real import.

Regards,

Fred Nickols
nickols@att.net

[Martin Taylor 2007.11.25.15.12]

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.24.1200)]

Kind of an interesting editorial in the NY Times. The fellow seems to
think that science, like religion, is based on faith. In science it's
the faith that "..nature is ordered and rational". I think this is
bogus; I certainly don't assume that nature is ordered and rational.
If I have any faith at all it is in the fact that on can test models
against one's own experience;

Interesting. You don't believe that science is based on faith that something is consistent about the way the universe works, and that consistency will be the same tomorrow, even if we don't yet know what it is. I don't see how one can ever conduct science without that assumption. If you believe that tomorrow the sun might come up on the other side of the sky and be made of glowing green cheese, or that when you walk through the door of your room you might just as easily step into an Antarctic icefield as into the hallway, then why would you even try to be a scinetist?

It would be interesting to hear what people think of this piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?hp

I agree with Ted Cloak (undated), and with the article at least this far:

I do have "faith" that when I cross the room the floor will be there for
each next step.

I do have "faith" that there is a natural world out there, and I have
"faith" that science (i.e. physics) is the best way to approximate knowledge
of that world.

Those "faiths" are based on my evaluated experience and the well-attested
(and vigorously tested) experience of other people. (Oh, yes, I do have
"faith" that there are other people.)

But I don't have "faith" in any supernatural being. Faiths like that have
no basis in anyone's evaluated experience but are based on sheer authority
of old men, old wives, and old books.

Where I disagree with the article is where it says:

"the laws should have an explanation from within the universe"

Since the author is talking about laws expressible mathematically, I think G�del's theorem applies. If I interpret but him and G�del correctly, the theorem proves that it is impossible to have a provably self-consistent set of laws for which the proof is implicit in the laws themselves. In other words, there will ALWAYS be aspects of the laws of Nature for which one's belief must rest on faith rather than on the implications of the laws themselves.

I have faith that the universe will continue to behave as it has, and that if one "law of nature" is provably inconsistent with another or is inconsistent with observation, then that "law of nature" fails to describe the way the universe works, and we need to find out more about how it might be working.

It requires no supernatural agency to support such a belief, unless you count G�del as a God.

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.25.1340)]

Martin Taylor (2007.11.25.15.12) --

Interesting. You don't believe that science is
based on faith that something is consistent about
the way the universe works, and that consistency
will be the same tomorrow, even if we don't yet
know what it is.

I guess I don't.

I don't see how one can ever
conduct science without that assumption.

I conduct science sans that assumption all the time.

If you believe that tomorrow the sun might come up on
the other side of the sky and be made of glowing
green cheese, or that when you walk through the
door of your room you might just as easily step
into an Antarctic icefield as into the hallway,
then why would you even try to be a scinetist?

I try to be a scientist in order to find out how things work. I don't
think you have to assume that certain things won't be observed in
order to be a scientist. In fact, those kinds of assumptions can
create problems. Assumptions about how measurements of the speed of
light should vary depending on the velocity of the measuring
instrument could have cost Michelson and Morley a Nobel. Assumptions
about how sensory inputs should cause behavior still keep people from
understanding how control works.

Since the author is talking about laws
expressible mathematically, I think G�del's
theorem applies.

G�del's theorem applies to deductive systems, like math. It really has
nothing to do with inductive systems, like science.

I have faith that the universe will continue to
behave as it has, and that if one "law of nature"
is provably inconsistent with another or is
inconsistent with observation, then that "law of
nature" fails to describe the way the universe
works, and we need to find out more about how it
might be working.

Now you're talking. G�del really has nothing to do with it. Science is
not about proving the internal consistency of laws; it is about
empirical testing of these laws -- the "laws of nature" -- which are
_invented_ by people in order to explain what they perceive. The
reason I disagree with the article on scientific faith in order and
rationality is that it implies that science is about _discovering_
"laws of nature" that exist "out these" (as orderly and rational
laws). I see science as a process of humans _inventing_ (not
discovering) laws (models) in order to explain what they perceive and
evaluating the merits of these invented laws through properly designed
empirical test. Now that I think of it, I don't think you really have
to have faith in anything -- even the existence of a real world -- in
order to successfully do science. The fact is that we can invent laws
(models or theories) that very successfully account for what we
perceive. Keats put it best:

Theory is truth, truth theory,�that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[Martin Taylor 2007.11.25.17:02]

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.25.1340)]

Martin Taylor (2007.11.25.15.12) --

Interesting. You don't believe that science is
based on faith that something is consistent about
the way the universe works, and that consistency
will be the same tomorrow, even if we don't yet
know what it is.

I guess I don't.

I don't see how one can ever
conduct science without that assumption.

I conduct science sans that assumption all the time.

Really! So your science makes no predictions, and cares nothing whether the models you found well fitting to the data yesterday fail utterly today? You never expect that a dropped cup will fall to the floor, and will be likely to fragment if the floor is tile?

Oh, ye of little faith!

I try to be a scientist in order to find out how things work.

With no faith that they will work the same way tomorrow (if there ever is a tomorrow).

> Since the author is talking about laws
> expressible mathematically, I think G�del's

theorem applies.

G�del's theorem applies to deductive systems, like math. It really has
nothing to do with inductive systems, like science.

I repeat: "Since the author is talking about laws expressible mathematically,...

I have faith that the universe will continue to
behave as it has, and that if one "law of nature"
is provably inconsistent with another or is
inconsistent with observation, then that "law of
nature" fails to describe the way the universe
works, and we need to find out more about how it
might be working.

Now you're talking. G�del really has nothing to do with it.

Possibly, but not necessarily, true if you do NOT want to be able to express the laws in a form compatible with the language of mathematics (which includes natural language). If you DO want to, then I think G�del demonstrates the impossibility of demonstrating the necessity of the laws by appeal to those same laws.

Science is
not about proving the internal consistency of laws; it is about
empirical testing of these laws -- the "laws of nature" -- which are
_invented_ by people in order to explain what they perceive.

Yes. But it is those inventions that should be internally consistent if there is a "way the world works".

Now that I think of it, I don't think you really have
to have faith in anything -- even the existence of a real world -- in
order to successfully do science.

I guess you could have a science as a solipsist, probing in imagination your imagination. Then you could imagine that your probings were consistent with each other no matter whether they gave the same kinds of results from one day to the next -- if there actually is a "one day' and a "next".

The fact is that we can invent laws
(models or theories) that very successfully account for what we
perceive. Keats put it best:

Theory is truth, truth theory,-that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Theory is beauty?

Martin

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.25.2110)]

Martin Taylor (2007.11.25.17:02) --

> Rick Marken (2007.11.25.1340)--
>
>> Martin Taylor (2007.11.25.15.12) --
>
>> Interesting. You don't believe that science is
>> based on faith that something is consistent about
>> the way the universe works, and that consistency
>> will be the same tomorrow, even if we don't yet
>> know what it is.

>I conduct science sans that assumption all the time.

Really! So your science makes no predictions

Of course I make predictions. Models embody predictions about what
will be observed under properly designed circumstances. I don't see
that this requires any faith in the consistency of the universe. If
the universe were not consistent that would quickly have shown up
after the first few attempts at doing scientific experiments and
science wouldn't exist. The consistency of the universe, in terms of
the consistency of the observations made in _well performed_
scientific experiments, is an empirical fact, not a matter of faith.

Regards

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

The best comment I've seen on this can be found on a t-shirt here:
http://xkcd.com/store/

Scroll down to the green one. (Not the Internet map, two screens farther down.)

For a more sophisticated analysis, see here:
http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/09/explainworshipi.html

The NYTimes article looks pretty fatuous to me, so much so that I don't see any reason to bring it up here. XKCD and the Overcoming Bias blog are a lot more worth one's time (notwithstanding that Eliezer Yudkowsky, the major poster to the latter, believes that people learn by reinforcement).

···

--
Richard Kennaway, jrk@cmp.uea.ac.uk, http://www.cmp.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/
School of Computing Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.

(notwithstanding that Eliezer
Yudkowsky, the major poster to the latter, believes that people learn by
reinforcement).
[From Bill Powers (2007.11.26.0504 MST)]

Richard Kennaway (2007.11.26.1151) –

They do. They learn by varying what they do until their actions cause
something to happen that reduces intrinsic error. Some people call that
reinforcement, but they don’t understand how it really works.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Fred Nickols (2007.11.26.0753 ET)]

Egad! I'm going to print this post of Bill's and have it framed. He has said what I believe about the link between reinforcement and PCT.

Would it be correct to say that what many behaviorist experimenters have done is induce intrinsic error in the subjects?

···

--
Fred Nickols
Toolmaker to Knowledge Workers
www.skullworks.com
nickols@att.net
    

[From Bill Powers (2007.11.26.0504 MST)]

Richard Kennaway (2007.11.26.1151) --

>(notwithstanding that Eliezer Yudkowsky, the major poster to the
>latter, believes that people learn by reinforcement).

They do. They learn by varying what they do until their actions cause
something to happen that reduces intrinsic error. Some people call
that reinforcement, but they don't understand how it really works.

Best,

Bill P.

Would it be correct to say that
what many behaviorist experimenters have done is induce intrinsic error
in the subjects?
[From Bill Powers (2007.11.26.0918 MST)]

Fred Nickols (2007.11.26.0753 ET)]

I think they call that the “establishing condition” or
something like that. For something to be reinforcing, the organism has to
want it, not have enough of it, not be able to get it for itself, and
learn to perform the particular action that the experimenter has decreed
it must do to get the thing.

Best,

Bill

[From Richard Kennaway (2007.11.26.1628 GMT)]

[From Bill Powers (2007.11.26.0918 MST)]

I think they call that the "establishing condition" or something like that. For something to be reinforcing, the organism has to want it, not have enough of it, not be able to get it for itself, and learn to perform the particular action that the experimenter has decreed it must do to get the thing.

Isn't the usual practice to starve the rats to 80% of their free-feeding weight?

I experienced that once, during a stay in hospital. Not at all pleasant.
(A long time ago. I got better.)

···

--
Richard Kennaway, jrk@cmp.uea.ac.uk, http://www.cmp.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/
School of Computing Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.

[Martin Taylor 2007.11.26.14.24]

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.25.2110)]

Martin Taylor (2007.11.25.17:02) --

> Rick Marken (2007.11.25.1340)--
>
>> Martin Taylor (2007.11.25.15.12) --
>
>> Interesting. You don't believe that science is
>> based on faith that something is consistent about
>> the way the universe works, and that consistency
>> will be the same tomorrow, even if we don't yet
>> know what it is.

>I conduct science sans that assumption all the time.

Really! So your science makes no predictions

Of course I make predictions. Models embody predictions about what
will be observed under properly designed circumstances. I don't see
that this requires any faith in the consistency of the universe.

I don't know how to address "I don't see". Nelson managed "I don't see" by putting the telescope to his blind eye. But I sense something different here, not a wilful failure to see.

If
the universe were not consistent that would quickly have shown up
after the first few attempts at doing scientific experiments and
science wouldn't exist.

Why would it, if the rules aren't going to change until 12:35 am next Tuesday?

The consistency of the universe, in terms of
the consistency of the observations made in _well performed_
scientific experiments, is an empirical fact, not a matter of faith.

It's an empirical fact (perhaps) that you perceive the observations made in well performed scientific experiments to have been mutually consistent. I presume that you have faith that this perception is not just a failure to recognize that ALL of them that you have heard of were made in your dreams. Also, I presume that if you have that faith (i.e. that you believe your memories are of things you perceived when not dreaming), you have some idea of what is meant by "consistent".

In most of science, progress is made when some observation is apparently not consistent with the observations that led to currently accepted theories. Physicists seem to believe that the two most accurate theories in their toolbag for explaining observations (general relativity and quantum electrodynamics) are inconsistent with one another. This wouldn't be a problem for them if they didn't have faith that the universe does work in a self-consistent way.

If you really don't have faith in the consistency of the universe, then you should have no problem in accepting laws that conflict, because you can say that Law X was functioning when "these" observations were made, and Law Y when "those" observations were made. You become a politician, rather than a scientist.

I think (I hope) you do have faith in the self-consistency of the way the universe works, whether you like to admit it, or whether you refuse to accept that it is a faith, on the grounds that "faith" smacks of believing in some anthropomorphized super-being who can do anything, anytime.

Martin

[From Richard Kennaway (2007.11.27.0053 GMT)]

Here's another dissection of Paul Davies' resort to the "Worship" button:
http://scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=292

···

--
Richard Kennaway

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.27.0940)]

Martin Taylor (2007.11.26.14.24) --

>Rick Marken (2007.11.25.2110)--

> If the universe were not consistent that would quickly have shown up
> after the first few attempts at doing scientific experiments and
>science wouldn't exist.

Why would it, if the rules aren't going to change until 12:35 am next Tuesday?

I think the kind of "faith" you are talking about is required for
everything people do, not just science. I have faith that I am not
going to turn back into a frog when I kiss Linda goodnight. I have
faith that Linda is not going to start telling me what a great
president Bush is. I have faith that the next time I press the "t" key
it will not be the "v" key. I have faith in the continued greed and
hypocrisy of right wingers. I don't think of this as "faith" because I
don't consciously have to assume these things in order to successfully
get through my day.

I don't have to have "faith" in the orderliness of the world in order
to successfully control in it, though my ability to control does
depend on the orderliness of the world. I agree with Richard Kennaway
that the notion that this kind of "faith" is faith and that it is
necessary in order to do science is rather fatuous. It's like saying
that I have to have faith that a floating pink elephant will not
appear in front of my computer screen in the next second in order to
type this message.

I think science does depend on assumptions that are like faith, but
these assumptions are themselves subject to test, so they are not
really "faith". In particular I am thinking of the faith that many
psychologists (and economists) have in a particular organizational
model of causality: the lineal causal model. When psychologists do
empirical research aimed at determining causal relationships between
environmental and behavioral variables (as in the typical psychology
experiment) they are basing this research (whether they know it or
not) on a faith that causality runs in one direction: from input to
output. They also have faith in the notion that any causality that
runs from output back to input is of no consequence with respect to
the meaning of the results of the experiment.

Of course, what PCT shows is that psychologists faith in the one way
causal model of behavior can be tested and that, in many cases, it can
be rejected. Since this faith is testable I would say that it is not
really a faith at all. So, once again, I say that science can be done
without faith in the unknowable.

Best

Rick

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--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com