[FoRK] A Bayesian framework for faith vs. non-faith

Jeff Bone < jbone at place.org > on > Sun Nov 19 11:03:27 PST 2006

On Nov 18, 2006, at 11:05 AM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:

> Science != faith.

+1.  But isn't the driver for this discussion the need to identify  
how they differ?

So --- I don't have a fully fleshed-out framework for that, at least  
one that I'm entirely comfortable with.  ALL modalities of thought  
proceed from some axiomatic assumptions.  However, intuitively it  
seems obvious to me how faith and science differ.  Faith involves  
axioms or other propositions for which otherwise reasonable people  
could entirely legitimately assign different prior probabilities.  It  
is "tainted" (ala Perl variables, if you will ;-) by the existence of  
such arbitrary probabilities.  Thus conclusions from Bayesian or  
other probabilistic or quantitative reasoning over such values, no  
matter how rigorous, are not reliable.  That is not to say that such  
conclusions may not be *true* --- merely that they are not as  
reliable as conclusions from "untainted" or minimally tainted priors.

Science, on the other hand, rejects (to the greatest extent possible)  
such arbitrary, subjective priors, and thus yields conclusions with  
greater reliability.  It further admits a willingness to discard any  
axioms or priors if they are revealed to be of this arbitrary nature  
--- i.e., it is a meta-method of reasoning, rather than a body of  
beliefs or a method of reasoning per se --- a flexibility NOT shared  
by faith-based modalities.

Just a thought...


PS - it's entirely possible to take faith-based thinking and  
deceitfully (or delusionally) wrap it in the cloth of quantitative,  
even Bayesian reasoning.  One good example of this is Stephen D.  
Unwin's book The Probability of God.  Check it out to see what I mean...

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