Re: belief, faith, truth

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 15:53:07 +0100

Le 30-janv.-06, à 18:49, Brent Meeker a écrit :

> Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> Le 29-janv.-06, à 20:02, Brent Meeker a écrit :
>>> I largely agree with Stathis. I note a subtle difference in
>>> language between Danny and Stathis. Danny refers to "believe in".
>>> I don't think a scientist ever "believes in" a theory.
>> All right, you use "believe in" (quote included!) for the "religious
>> belief of the fundamentalist".
>> Still I hope you agree that the scientist believes in its theory, if
>> only to be able to acknowledge his theory is wrong when experiments
>> refute it.
>> Cf Belief = B with (Bp -> p) NOT being a theorem!
>>> That implies taking the theory as the foundation of all further
>>> beliefs. In fact most scientists don't "believe" any theory, except
>>> in the provisional sense of thinking them likely, or worth
>>> entertaining, or suggestive.
>> OK, but this is independent of the fact that, still, the scientist
>> can "believe in" (in the scientist modest way of self-interrogation)
>> in the *object* of his theory. Most naturalist "believe in" a
>> physical universe, or a nature or whatever.
>> We wouldn't discuss about a "theory of everything" if we were not
>> believing in ... something.
>>> Religious faith differs from ordinary belief and scientific
>>> hypothesizing not only by the lack of evidence but even more in the
>>> assertion of certainity.
>> I think everyone has religious faith.
> Do you believe that on faith ;-) Certainly everyone takes for granted
> things on very slim evidence ("I heard it in the hall way"). But I
> don't think they have "religious faith" which implies not just lack of
> evidence, but a determination to believe in spite of contrary evidence
> - certainity that any contrary evidence must be wrong just because it
> is contrary.

To believe in something in spite of refutation is "bad faith".
To believe in something in spite of contrary evidences ? It depends. I
can imagine situations where I would find that a remarkable attitude,
and I can imagine others where I would take it again as bad faith.

>> Today, a scientist who pretends no doing philosophy or theology, is
>> just a scientist taking for granted Aristotle theology. No problem in
>> case he is aware of the fact, so that, as a scientist, he can still
>> be open to the idea that Aristotle theology can be falsified, but if
>> he is not aware of the fact, then he will not been able to make sense
>> of the data---a little like Roland Omnes who concludes his analysis
>> of QM that there is a point where we need to abandon faith in ...
>> reason. Personally, I consider that abandoning faith in reason in
>> front of difficulties, is just worse that abandoning faith in truth
>> (whatever it is).
> That would be an unquestioning certitude that there is a reality
> independent of all opinion?

Well, that is the bet, or hope, of the non solipsist scientist. Popper
said that faith in reason is faith in your own reason but above all
faith in the reason of the others.
And then Platonism is the faith in a reality independent of all
opinion, indeed, like the faith in the fact that 17 is prime
independently of us.

Received on Wed Feb 01 2006 - 10:16:28 PST

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