[FoRK] Re: Anything to be learned from religion?

Stephen D. Williams sdw
Thu Aug 11 22:29:06 PDT 2005

I think your argument is deep into semantic absolutism.  If math and 
science isn't "truth", what would be an example of "truth"?

A model could be said to be true if it is consistent with reality to the 
level of precision claimed and expected (and that precision is something 
less than "have faith and ignore reality").  Science as a whole can 
never be completely "true", but in detail it is always approaching the 
limit of truth.  This model seems more true than any other.


J. Andrew Rogers wrote:

>On 8/11/05 7:04 PM, "Albert Scherbinsky" <albert at softwarepress.com> wrote:
>>To the extent that "truth" exists at all, there are
>>different kinds of "truth". Math is "true" by
>>definition. It is an invention of the human mind.
>Eh?  Math is not true by definition, it is 'true' by convention.  It is
>based on an arbitrary set of axioms, and what constitutes that set is not
>even constant (the Axiom of Choice being the textbook example of this).  We
>treat math as a pseudo-truth -- and it is astonishingly effective with the
>axioms we do typically assume -- but if you look too closely it may fray at
>the edges.  There is not one math, there are as many maths as there are sets
>of axioms.
>While asserting axioms is bad science, it has one extremely valuable
>property if axioms are chosen carefully:  It allows us to make consistent
>predictions about things we lack the ability to measure empirically.  If the
>set of axioms used in a math are good, it will allow remarkably detailed
>predictions of things we've never seen and can barely imagine via a
>mechanical process from those axioms.  That is so valuable when it works out
>that it is worth overlooking the fact that there is no intrinsic truth to
>the assumptions used, and we mitigate the potential danger by using as few
>axioms as possible.
>J. Andrew Rogers
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