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

James Tauber < jtauber at jtauber.com > on > Sun Nov 19 18:04:59 PST 2006

This anthropomorphizing of science needs to be unpacked a bit. Are  
you describing how scientists themselves work on their own field, how  
they view other fields or how non-scientists of a particular  
"scientific" mindset operate?

In my experience, most people, whether they would be described as  
having a scientific or faith-based mindset, are mostly operating at  
the level of a trust network. Most people reinforce (or even create)  
their beliefs by thinking "oh, it must be true because some  
scientist / theologian much smarter than I thinks it".

Amongst the general population, I don't think this is any less true  
of science than religion.

Once you get to the scientists themselves, there's a difference  
between their own field and others. I think the trust network is  
still applying to fields outside their own (although perhaps with  
more discernment). There are very few scientific endeavours anymore  
where you can check everything yourself.

For me, the big difference between science and faith is that science  
is about empirically adequate models. If your model is adequate,  
you're done. Truth is not the objective (and, indeed, can't be)

Or put another way, if it was revealed tomorrow that the universe was  
created last Thursday, evolution would still be an excellent model of  
the observable facts.


On 20/11/2006, at 3:03 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> 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.

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