Science, Reason & Faith

Science, Reason & Faith

There are 7 comments on the Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy story from Jan 11, 2014, titled Science, Reason & Faith. In it, Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy reports that:

Science is the process of determining the behavior of matter using observation, testing , and reason; with reason defined as the ability to observe, comprehend and accept self-evident truth.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy.

“Life may be sweeter for this”

Since: Nov 08


#1 Jan 12, 2014
"I believe that many, even most, who think of themselves as atheists are actually agnostics "

When I read something like this from a Christian apologist, I pretty much stop taking them seriously regarding their thoughts on atheism just as I would stop taking scientific pronouncements seriously if I read "Evolution is only a theory." Both of these serve as litmus tests that indicate a basic misunderstanding of the subject matter, and suggest to me that the author's understanding comes from Christian apologetics sources.

" it is never logically explained, as is done here, that atheism, of scientific necessity, requires belief in an eternal uncreated universe"

Nonsense. I'm an atheist and have no such belief. This is the type of thing we expect from theists that come to their understanding of atheists and atheism only through reading what our detractors say about us, not by speaking with us.

Predictably, the author goes on to argue the old chestnut that atheism is faith based:

"Both religion and atheism represent leaps of faith equal in magnitude but opposite in direction – two mutually exclusive beliefs – each beyond the discovery of reason."

Of course, this straw man depends on his definition of atheist as what many of us would call gnostic atheists or hard atheists - those that positively affirm the nonexistence of gods It also brings to mind this wonderful comment from Amanda Marcotte

“I always flinch in embarrassment for the believer who trots out,“Atheism is just another kind of faith,” because it’s a tacit admission that taking claims on faith is a silly thing to do. When you’ve succumbed to arguing that the opposition is just as misguided as you are, it’s time to take a step back and rethink your attitudes.”

The author also tries to justify faith by misdefining both it and reason. Here are two definitions of reason he offers:

"[Reason is] the discovery of the certainty or probability of such propositions or truths, which the mind arrives at by deduction made from such ideas, as it has got by the use of its natural faculties…” John Locke

"reason defined as the ability to observe, comprehend and accept self-evident truth."

Both are obviously insufficient. Locke doesn't account for induction, which is as much a part of reason as deduction. Induction is the process of going from particulars to a generalization, as when we organize the numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 into a rule 2n, where n is any positive integer and indicates the elements place on the list (2 is 1st, 6 is 3rd, etc). Deduction is going in the opposite direction, from the general rule to a particular, as when we ask what the sixth element of the list would be, and derive the answer 12 using the rule.

The authors own rule is undermined by his use of the word "self-evident." Much of reason and its output is far from self-evident. Self-evident is reserved for axioms, fundamental laws of reason such as the law of non contradiction, and atomic rules of inference.


“Life may be sweeter for this”

Since: Nov 08


#2 Jan 12, 2014
He'll later go on to argue that faith is reasonable in areas science cannot investigate. He goes to Lock again to support this:

"Where revelation comes into its own is where reason cannot reach. Where we have few or no ideas for reason to contradict or confirm, this is the proper matters for faith… that Part of the Angels rebelled against GOD, and thereby lost their first happy state: and that the dead shall rise, and live again: These and the like, being beyond the discovery of reason, are purely matters of faith; with which reason has nothing to do.” John Locke

But this is not reasonable. Reason also comments on belief without evidence,meaning there is no area it does not address. Reason tells us that faith is just a guess and cannot be correct unless one has guessed correctly. Even then, one cannot know that.

It is unreasonable to utilize a method that permits on to believe either ca given idea or its exact opposite with equal ease and assurance according to personal preference.

Also, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the absence of expected evidence is evidence of absence. If we are told that a perfect and loving god exists, and we see evil, reason tells us that the claim has been falsified. If we are told that a god exists that will answer the prayers of the faithful, we can (and have) test that claim and confirm the null hypothesis - that prayer is ineffectual. If we are told that faith confers certain gifts of the spirit, or that a messiah will return soon, we can see that those claims are false. In each case, the absence of expected evidence and reason tell us that faith in such a god is unwarranted.

Look at how inadequate his definition of faith is:

"Faith is any belief based on that which is unobservable and un-testable, which is to say any belief which is undiscoverable by science, which is to say any belief beyond the discovery of reason."

This definition fails to acknowledge the kind of faith we're all most familiar with: faith that spits in the face of reason and evidence. Faith includes faith in a flat earth, and young earth, and a creation of the animals as we find them

“In God we trust”

Since: Dec 12

Cape Town, South Africa

#3 Jan 12, 2014
Truth beats evidence.

Cambridge, UK

#4 Jan 13, 2014
Carchar king wrote:
Truth beats evidence.
and we have a new winner for "dumbest theist quote of the century".

“No Allah: know peace”

Since: Jun 07

A sacred grove in Tujunga, CA

#5 Jan 17, 2014
Carchar king wrote:
Truth beats evidence.
If it is true, then there will be evidence to support it.

Hamilton, UK

#6 Jan 18, 2014
Liam R wrote:
<quoted text>
If it is true, then there will be evidence to support it.

“Citizen_Patriot_ Voter_Atheist!”

Since: May 09


#7 Jan 19, 2014
Carchar king wrote:
Truth beats evidence.
Evidence is truth.

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