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Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

CmdrTaco posted about 3 years ago | from the you-can't-test-faith dept.

Science 1486

Hugh Pickens writes "Pastabagel writes that the actual scientific answers to the questions of the origins of the universe, the evolution of man, and the fundamental nature of the cosmos involve things like wave equations and quantum electrodynamics and molecular biology that very few non-scientists can ever hope to understand and that if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we accept the incredibly complex scientific phenomena in physics, astronomy, and biology through the process of belief, not through reason. When Richard Fenyman wrote, 'I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,' he was including himself which is disconcerting given how many books he wrote on that very subject. The fact is that it takes years of dedicated study before scientific truth in its truest, mathematical and symbolic forms can be understood. The rest of us rely on experts to explain it, someone who has seen and understood the truth and can dumb it down for us in a language we can understand. And therein lies the big problem for science and scientists. For most people, science is really a matter of trusting the expert who tells it to us and believing what they tell us. Trust and belief. Faith. Not understanding. How can we understand science, if we can't understand the language of science? 'We don't learn science by doing science, we learn science by reading and memorizing. The same way we learn history. Do you really know what an atom is, or that a Higgs boson is a rather important thing, or did you simply accept they were what someone told you they were?'"

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No. (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | about 3 years ago | (#35746026)

Science is demonstrable, repeatable and self-correcting. Most importantly: Science Delivers. Not understanding the intricacies doesn't make it "faith".

Faith is an idea with no evidence to back it up no matter how adept the 'experts'. Even more important, the 'experts' often don't agree on even the basics. Witness all the various religions and factions thereof.

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746084)

Except that you personally haven't demonstrated or repeated anything. When someone at FermiLab tells you it produced antihydrogen, you believe them.

The fact that a scientist can do the same thing over and over again and call it antihydrogen doesn't make it any more real to you than someone who tells you that they see miracles attributed to God every day.

That's the point.

Re:No. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746152)

but you can. thats the bigger point.

you can go and reproduce it, and if not that, you can go and check out how they do it at the labs.

i have yet to see somebody reproduce "blind people seeing again by the touch of a hand" or any other things like that.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 3 years ago | (#35746294)

So you can reproduce quantum entanglements? Or find some dark matter? Dark energy? See an angel?

Big difference (4, Insightful)

putaro (235078) | about 3 years ago | (#35746162)

The big difference is that when someone says they see a miracle, all they can offer is "Because I said so."

You may have to do a lot of studying and it may not be possible for you to learn enough to verify some things or the equipment is too expensive/difficult but it's at least theoretically possible.

Anyone with a high school education should be able to do things like verify Newton's laws for themselves. You don't have to take it on faith. Many things we do take on trust, but that is different than taking something on faith. Taking something on trust means that you have the option of verifying it yourself. Taking something on faith means that you simply believe and you have no option of ever verifying it yourself.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746164)

Except that you personally haven't demonstrated or repeated anything. When someone at FermiLab tells you it produced antihydrogen, you believe them.

The fact that a scientist can do the same thing over and over again and call it antihydrogen doesn't make it any more real to you than someone who tells you that they see miracles attributed to God every day.

That's the point.

I pray to the Anti-Hydrogen God. Have some sensitivity to those of Faith!

Except for those losers who believe in the Big Bang! *snicker*

Re:No. (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | about 3 years ago | (#35746172)

When someone at FemiLab tells you they've created antihydrogen, they also tell you how they did it - should you wish to repeat the experiment and corroborate their results.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746284)

But if you were able to reproduce the results (which is extermeley unlikely) then would you even understand the results? There are scientific principles that 99% of the population will never understand, no matter how many books they read and lectures they go to, and evidence is useless, because people won't know how to interpret what they are seeing. This means that for 99% of the population, what they say about a lot of things is based on the fact that they believe someone is telling the truth. Sounds like faith to me!

Re:No. (2)

grub (11606) | about 3 years ago | (#35746190)

A lab full of scientists claiming Antihydrogen will have some evidence to support their claims. More importantly, they will continue to replicate the results.

There's a difference between blind faith and having faith in the experts.

Re:No. (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#35746192)

However, science encourages you to disagree, debate, and question things for yourself. Religion actively tries to make that not an option because its dangerous for its continued existence.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 years ago | (#35746312)

Except that you personally haven't demonstrated or repeated anything. When someone at FermiLab tells you it produced antihydrogen, you believe them.

The fact that a scientist can do the same thing over and over again and call it antihydrogen doesn't make it any more real to you than someone who tells you that they see miracles attributed to God every day.

That's the point.

But antihydrogen is only one tiny part of science.

When somebody at FermiLab tells you that gravity accelerates objects at 9.8 m/s^2 and uses this to calculate the trajectory of a ball very accurately, you believe them, because you can see this, and they can do it over and over and over. You can do the calculation on your own, and measure the dropping ball too. It works, and you can do it.

When religion tells you that God answers prayers, and then you pray for something and don't get it. Or you don't pray for it and do get it. Or good things happen to bad people. As said, science delivers. Religion ... not so much. (And really, lots of religions have claimed that only the high priesthood could talk to their gods, or could understand them ... it's not like being complicated is restricted to science.)

Perhaps not all of science is understandable and usable by the layperson ... but lots of it is. If you're going to use antihydrogen as an example, the burning bush would be a fine counterexample -- sure, we understand it as we're told, but what proof is there? What proof could there ever be?

So no, science is not based on faith. Lay people certainly do have faith that what the scientists tell them is truth when it comes to the more esoteric stuff, but at least the scientists are always looking for ways to prove or disprove their beliefs, and if something is shown to be true, they'll try something else. Quantum mechanics is a theory -- fairly well supported, but science is ready to throw it out if it's disproven. Religion won't do that.

Re:No. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 years ago | (#35746352)

> Except that you personally haven't demonstrated or repeated anything.

Not true. Many of us have replicated the principles of physics and chemistry both in high school and college.

The fact that we can't replicate the more expensive experiments really doesn't matter. It's just a red herring to undermine Science and elevate an notion of religion that was outdated 200 years ago.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | about 3 years ago | (#35746382)

The fact that a scientist can do the same thing over and over again and call it antihydrogen doesn't make it any more real to you than someone who tells you that they see miracles attributed to God every day.

The fact is that I see the results of science every time I use a computer, ride a car, take a medicine, watch TV, etc, etc, etc.

All the results I can see coming from god is that when someone burns a book about him someone else kills twenty innocent people at the other side of the world.

Re:No. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 3 years ago | (#35746410)

Except that you personally haven't demonstrated or repeated anything.

Of course we do. We're doing right now using extremely advanced machines to connected to a world-wide network. We're doing it every day when we improve our health by being subject to surgical procedures.

We're repeating scientific experiments every day.

No, I'm not repeating the creation of an anti-hydrogen. But on the other hand, I don't really have "faith" in it. It is public knowledge that science fails every day. It's based on that.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746196)

Faith is trusting/believing in something you don't understand. Like in many religions, faith often relates to a supernatural mystery (above natural). Regardless if you personally believe in one religion or another, he's talking about the believing in something one doesn't understand. That IS a matter of faith for most people with regard to science.

For most people, science fall into this description. They trust or believe in something they themselves don't really understand.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 years ago | (#35746228)

Quite often certain people attempt to conflate trust and faith as if they are the same thing.

Trust is earned and subject to revision. Faith is not. Faith is expected without justification and is expected to endure regardless of what facts may come to challenge it.

Re:No. (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 3 years ago | (#35746362)

I would disagree if one was to say there is no faith. The difference is where and why faith is placed. There is no faith placed in any one scientist.

So yes, I have to take it on faith that wave functions and most of QM describes something that is born out in experimental evidence. Mostly because I haven't studied it and the math required to do much with it, and I have no equipment with which to test. However, I don't have to trust any one persons experiment, and in fact, if someone else is able to show that its non-reproducible, then it is called into question.

There is some amount of faith but, its faith in an open and auditable process, often known as the "Scientific Method".

Religious faith on the other hand, is faith that what some guy said in a book is the truth. Its faith in some line of priests or the words of a long dead man. Faith in things that can't be proven. Statements that cannot be falsified and are not open to questioning and standards of reproducibility.

if I think QM is wrong, I can devise a falsifiable test designed to prove it wrong, and if my test works, and can be reproduced by others, then thats totally legitimate. How do I devise a test to falsify the statement that "jesus is lord" or "people live on after death"? It is faith in a much less open, system which can't be audited or tested.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 3 years ago | (#35746390)

I thnk you're missing the point: if you don't have the knowledge to understand the science, then you must take on faith that those who do, a) do, and b) are relaying the correct information.

You could study for a decade or two in order to attain the same knowledge and verify it for yourself... but until you do that, your only option is to place your trust (and faith) in those who have already done that.

Obvious? (5, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 3 years ago | (#35746028)

I've always thought it rather obvious that Science is a Faith. If a word cannot be used to define itself, than how can Science ever be used to prove itself?

Even if both Science and Religion have their roots in Faith, however, their differences are staggering. Religion is only about Faith. There is nothing more to it than belief, and not only is there no way to systematically test what is taught, but it is discouraged as indicative of too little Faith.

Science is all about that very exploration. Challenging what is taught and verifying for yourself that it is true. It may, fundamentally, be a Faith, but then again, isn't our acceptance of our sensory inputs a Faith as well?

Re:Obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746088)

I would add that science can demonstrate its claim, faith can not.

Re:Obvious? (1)

halivar (535827) | about 3 years ago | (#35746150)

Would you consider the theories of a cold fusion crackpot equal to his peers? Of course not; his ideas are silly and completely counter to what we know about how the universe works. In much the same way as a gnostic in early Christendom. Science and religion both have their heretics.

Re:Obvious? (1, Informative)

internerdj (1319281) | about 3 years ago | (#35746274)

There are plenty of religious factions that are based on understanding their holy writings in a logical and methodical approach. There are even religious organizations that seek to provide verification of the parts of holy writings that can be proven by our current methods of observation (archeology, history, textual criticism). Many religious people are intellectually lazy but most will accept that people might actually want to reason out what they believe.

Re:Obvious? (5, Insightful)

Danse (1026) | about 3 years ago | (#35746316)

I've always thought it rather obvious that Science is a Faith. If a word cannot be used to define itself, than how can Science ever be used to prove itself?

Science doesn't "prove" anything, at least in the sense you seem to be using the word. It does allow us to find the most evident answer to our questions though. We've see science succeed in all sorts of endeavors. We've put men on the moon, we've built incredible structures, we've created the very computers and networks that we're communicating with now. We've created medical procedures and devices that have allowed us to extend both our lifespan and quality of life significantly. I've got a phone in my pocket that can do more than most PCs did 10 years ago.

The results of the scientific method can be seen throughout our society, so we have vast amounts of evidence to support its efficacy. While many people may take the pronouncements of science on faith, there is no need to do so, as there is with religion. You actually can do the research and test the claims yourself. Those people that understand the methods of science know why they accept the answers that we get through science. They also know why those answers are subject to change. They also know there are some questions that may never be answered.

Science is all about accumulating and building upon knowledge. No theory is ever completely proven or ever finished. They're all subject to change pending new information. Some people have a hard time with that concept. Some people seem to have more of a need to have a simple explanation for everything, and what could be more simple than "God did it"?

Re:Obvious? (1)

Bigos (857389) | about 3 years ago | (#35746414)

The deeper we explore the narrower our field gets, and more we have to rely on people from other fields giving us necessary information, hoping that nothing important was lost in the process.

Not this shit again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746044)


Re:Not this shit again... (2)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | about 3 years ago | (#35746420)

Mod this up. Religion - Science comparisons and debates suck. Every person is just too unique in his beliefs to reach an objective conclusion to this argument. And yes, it's a completely pointless, highly opinionated discussion.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746054)

1) We're far from done with quantum mechanics; of course no one can understand it at the present moment.
2) They're called theories. We don't know many things for sure. It's not belief and it's not reasoning because no one is absolutely certain that they're correct.

Science does require faith (5, Insightful)

ab8ten (551673) | about 3 years ago | (#35746062)

But it also requires doubt.

That's what makes it special.

Re:Science does require faith (3, Insightful)

adeft (1805910) | about 3 years ago | (#35746220)

Well put. If scientists are wrong, they can start over. If religious folks are wrong, their whole belief structure is out the window.

Re:Science does require faith (1)

Bigos (857389) | about 3 years ago | (#35746332)

If you think religion doesn't require doubt you know little about religion. There are hundreds of religions out there, can you tell that you have checked them all?

Re:Science does require faith (1)

wiggys (621350) | about 3 years ago | (#35746340)

Science works in the opposite way to religion - skepticism and doubt are at the heart of the scientific method. Science is about coming up with a model or a theory to explain something, and then testing it and trying to prove it wrong. Most religions claim to know some divinely inspired truth which must not be questioned, and doubt and skepticism are seen as the enemies of religion - and quite rightly so. The level of "faith" required to accept a scientific finding is not comparable to the level of faith required to believe in religion. If a team of scientists conducts an experiment and comes up with a result then the experiment is analysed through peer review, and if possible the experiment is run again and again (often by different teams) to see if they get the same results or not.

Re:Science does require faith (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 3 years ago | (#35746360)

Yeah, it's called the "scientific method" and it's what sets scientific "belief" apart from it's faith-based counterpart.

I may not have mastered all the necessary disciplines to *really* know that e=mc^2, but I know enough to follow along as a real expert explains it. Whereas with religion, you very quickly get to the "and then a miracle occurs" [sciencecartoonsplus.com] stage of discourse.

In a way, it's sorta like using Linux vs. MSWin, etc... I may not be a kernel guru, but if I have a problem that requires a bit of hacking, I know (from long experience) that I can usually find the answer to my problem if I put in the time to study it.

I guess you could say this is a "meta" version of the scientific method... meaning that my personal experimentation always tends to affirm the claims of science (or Linux) when I bother to test them. This in turn strengthens my trust in the scientific method. Whenever I bother to "test" science, science always proves itself. Whenever I "test" religious ideas, I rapidly bump into the wall of "miraculous" assertions.

Trust peer-reviewed science... (1)

b00m3rang (682108) | about 3 years ago | (#35746068)

or the big bearded man in the sky. If those are the two options, I know which one I'm choosing.

Re:Trust peer-reviewed science... (2, Insightful)

maczealot (864883) | about 3 years ago | (#35746134)

Well, when you use your sarcasm wand to paint the topic of spiritual belief like that I am totally won over to your side of thinking. Obviously anyone who believes in God believes in a "big bearded man in the sky" how silly of us not to have realized how silly that is. Thanks for your insight!

/see what I did there?

Re:Trust peer-reviewed science... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35746262)

You're trolling, right? Believing isn't necessarily silly, but using that belief to dismiss actual evidence is. Science is far from conclusive, but it gets closer with every generation, I doubt you can substantiate a similar claim about religion.

Re:Trust peer-reviewed science... (2, Interesting)

maczealot (864883) | about 3 years ago | (#35746388)

I am not trolling. I am pointing out that if you want to use debate, reason and logic to sway someone or groups of people to your way of thinking using the approach YOU did rather than the parent's is more effective. "The big bearded man in the sky" is not what most people who believe in a deity have believed in for centuries now. Belittling their Faith is hardly going to make them receptive to your more reasonable and fact based arguments.

I could go on about how Faith in a deity and Faith in science are not mutually exclusive but that is beside the current point.

Re:Trust peer-reviewed science... (1)

immakiku (777365) | about 3 years ago | (#35746286)

Yea it's pretty silly indeed. Though the thought can be worded less combatively, the idea itself is pretty amusingly ridiculous indeed.

Re:Trust peer-reviewed science... (2)

cecilgol (977329) | about 3 years ago | (#35746236)

mod parent up.

This is how I've resolved this question to myself every time someone brings this question up. If scientists who believe and scientists who do not can get closer to agreement on, for example, the way our neurons operate than "P" or "-P", I'm comfortable choosing to believe what I read in Science than The Book.

There's a (relatively) riveting Neil DeGrasse Tyson lecture that I like to direct folks to: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-102519600994873365# [google.com] Its long but every second is worth it.

Re:Trust peer-reviewed science... (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 years ago | (#35746408)

Peer reviewed science won't burn you in eternal hellfire if you don't believe. A scientist (perhaps one named Pascal) might think about this and come up with Pascal's Gambit [wikipedia.org].

Of course it is... (-1, Troll)

the_one_wesp (1785252) | about 3 years ago | (#35746072)

Science is the popular god of the day. In 20, 50, 100, 200 years popular opinion will shift, and with it, its god.

Re:Of course it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746374)

I don't think you understand the term "science"...

Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:
Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world.

It's really that simple, and it works. Neither can be said of previous "popular gods" of the past.

The difference (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 3 years ago | (#35746096)

The difference between faith and science is that there are teams looking for proof of the higs boson, they aren't betting taking belief for granted.

An interesting question (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 3 years ago | (#35746104)

For "most" people, science is effectively another faith because they hear it and simply accept it.

But there is one huge and significant difference between science and religion -- objective testing and verification. If any one of the "faithful" have doubts, anyone is welcome to attempt to refute the findings with new tests and experimentation. And in most cases, you won't find yourself cut off from society if you do challenge "current scientific belief." (This has happened in various cases including global warming studies more recently.)

Um, in a word, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746106)

So because I don't understand nuclear physics, it is a matter of faith that, say, a nuclear power plant exists? Just because I can't explain a nuclear reaction doesn't make it a matter of faith that I know it to be a phenomenon.

It's a moot point, because much of what we know to be true is true because we trust that an expert has explained it properly. You could apply this across any number of subjects which one doesn't have intimate knowledge of.


Heretics are burned. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 years ago | (#35746114)

The key difference between science and "faith" is that heretics are burned.

There is no great controversy if someone decides to rearrange the human family tree. There will be no fundies burning you or your effigy in the street or causing riots that cause innocent people to get killed. There will be some discussion and that will be the end of it.

At worst you will be laughed at until the rest of the community comes around to your way of thinking.

Faith is immutable. Scientific "truth" is infinitely maleable.

The ultimate truth of Bosons does not bother me one way or the other. I need not base my life or my actions on whether or not Bosons are bogus.

Heretics are burned; So Are AGW "Deniers" (0, Troll)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 3 years ago | (#35746264)

If you want to feel like Galileo before The Inquisition, try scoffing about man-made global warming while working in the entertainment industry in NYC.

I'm just sayin'..

Only things the peeps in the check out line at Whole Foods in SoHo are missing to complete the scene are hooded robes and torches...

Absolutely not (4, Insightful)

GreyyGuy (91753) | about 3 years ago | (#35746122)

Science is fundamentally different from faith in that science is reproducible. Faith is not.

What this question asks is if you are too lazy to learn the details yourself then you have to have faith in the person telling you about it. Which is exactly the same as most people who can't be bothered to learn the details of their own religion and its history, and instead just take on faith that the person telling them what god wants them to do is actually the truth of it. But that similarity is that people not wanting to learn themselves are putting faith in a person of trust.

Re:Absolutely not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746280)

Science is testable, and falsifiable. If your religion says "do X and you will get Y", then you could consider it science. Alas, most religious "payoffs" come after you are dead and so the living never get to see the proof. In science I don't need to see the actual experiment to understand that someone actually did X and actually got Y. A preponderance of articles in peer-reviewed journals is good enough for me. Yes, I'm lazy enough that I don't have to redo every experiment myself. I did enough of them in science labs during college, thanks. I don't know that Every idea advocated by Every scientist is falsifiable, but that is the direction all scientific researchers are pushing. It's how you ell them from psuedo-scientific quacks. Or Imams.

First Define Faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746126)

The best definition of "Faith" that I've ever heard is "To be fully persuaded." As in, if you'd bet *everything* on a belief being right, then you have *faith* in that belief.

In that sense, "science" is a matter of faith. What is supposed to be different is /why/ and /how/ one becomes "fully persuaded".

Science and faith are only comparable in that one (1)

immakiku (777365) | about 3 years ago | (#35746128)

dimension. Yes - we get our "knowledge" from experts just as people of faith do. But the difference is with science, everyone can test and observe the same claims. Maybe only one person ever has witnessed the described effects of that particle accelerator, but the process is fundamentally trustworthy enough that we don't need to bother to test his claims. That is not to say that we CANNOT test his claims. If someone else has enough funding and time he can do the same thing.

Re:Science and faith are only comparable in that o (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#35746254)

Furthermore, since the scientific community is cutthroat, there are a bunch of under-funded scientists just waiting to prove big findings by big named scientists wrong. Thats a good tactic to get more funding and make a name for yourself as well. If anything, thats actually a strength of the truth in science that religion cannot match.

There's no need for faith when proof is possible (1)

mazumi (1960366) | about 3 years ago | (#35746142)

Scientific theories are supported by hypotheses that have been proved. Theists cannot prove the existence of god, hence their faith. You do not need faith where facts are involved.

Faith can't MAKE MACHINES WORK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746158)

Ah, it could be a matter of faith for many of us, until we use the science to MAKE MACHINES WORK. When was the last time any holy book told you how to build a telescope, a jet engine, a rocket, a car, a computer, or any of the other innumerable machines in our daily lives that were once only scientific concepts.

"scientific answers"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746160)

Hmmmm.... You mean like "scientific proof" and "backed by science"?

I think there is an element of "me-too"-ism, and sometimes people take "shortcuts" by accepting authority (we can't all be marine biologists, can we?), but we're willing to accept another authority when it comes a long, if they can convince us with compelling arguments. I guess it takes a little "faith" in some ways.

Then again, there's the actual scientific method, which is the exact opposite of faith.

EASY!!!! Science *CAN* produce miracles! (5, Insightful)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | about 3 years ago | (#35746174)

I mean, if you're gonna believe in something, WHY NOT believe in the thing that makes cars, go, planes fly, drugs work, farms more productive, computers work, metals strong, i.e., EVERY BIT OF OUR TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY?

I mean, if you're going to believe in something, WHY NOT believe in the thing that slaps you in the face with literally thousands of miracles a day? Oh, and yes, it's true that they stop being miracles if you bother learning how they work and understand it, and all the miracle performers (scientists and engineers) TELL you that.

*NOT* to believe in science would require an incredible denial of reality. I mean, you'd have to be pretty much insane.

Science == miracles on demand. *SHOW ME* anything else so worthy of my faith. SERIOUSLY.


Nothing more than Word Play. (3, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | about 3 years ago | (#35746182)

People can have faith (believe, trust) in Science, but that doesn't make Science a Faith (recently developed synonym for a religion or religious belief.) This is just nonsensical word play, bereft of any real argumentative value; regardless of one's views on Science or Religion.

Tim Minchin says: don't jump out the window. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746184)

Tim Minchin said it best. Storm [youtube.com]

Reasons for it being consistent? (3, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 3 years ago | (#35746186)

If nothing else, the idea that everything will continue the way it has in the past is faith-based... at least, a completely naturalistic view. There's no reason, aside from it having been that way for a long time in the past, to believe that laws of various scientific disciplines (physics, biology, astronomy) will continue to be the way they have been, is there? One might argue that the fact they haven't changed in observed history is evidence... but I don't see how one could "scientifically" prove it. It may be a reasonable explanation, a reasonable conclusion, a reasonable belief/faith, but proving something is more than something being reasonable or even "making sense."

No. Empiricism does not require understanding. (3, Insightful)

DoctorNathaniel (459436) | about 3 years ago | (#35746194)

The only power of theoretical models is in making predictions. If I can can consistently predict the outcome of a set of experiments, you can trust that my theories are not wrong. You can never prove a theory right, of course. But you can throw so many tests at it that you can be sure that it's not completely wrong - and any contradictory evidence that comes forward will only modify your theory, not expunge it.

You don't have to understand wave mechanics to believe that it works. You can ask a theorist to predict what happens when you put two slits in front of a laser. They make a prediction, and then you see it. You don't even need to see it yourself. You can trust people whose job it is to look at things, just as you trust that books and newspapers haven't invented whole continents out of fantasy.

We can make transistors. We can make them very well. This shows we understand the principles of transistor-making, which we call quantum mechanics.

This is either stupid or a troll - yet another attempt to build a false equivalency between proven methods of finding out the truth, and unproven magical thinking.

I didn't learn by memorizing.... (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | about 3 years ago | (#35746200)

"We don't learn science by doing science, we learn science by reading and memorizing." Or, you know, BOTH. We did a lot of experimental stuff in the classroom throughout HS and grade school. We still had to memorize the big stuff, but anything we could verify in the lab we generally did.

Not quite the same (5, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 years ago | (#35746206)

Religious scholars argue vehemently over the interpretations of ancient texts (often haggling over ink blots that could change the meaning of words and translations) and then write books or long essays trying to prove their viewpoints. There is no evidence, no data, only opinion. Scientists argue vehemently over the interpretation of data and then do additional testing to prove their viewpoints. Because of the mentalities (and sometimes egos) of scientists, if someone is clearly wrong about their interpretation of the data, there will be a dogpile of experiments and work from other scientists to prove just how wrong they are.

The Wakefield vaccine study is an example of this: He faked data, made a controversial claim from the results of the faked data, and other medical researchers have proven time and time again that he was wrong. His followers, the anti-vaxxers, are relying on faith when they continue to believe in him even after he was proven to be a fraudster and a liar. However, scientists and interested parties who kept up with the research and came down on Wakefield for his lies are NOT relying on faith. They are relying on evidence. And that is why it is science and not a religion.

a single difference (1)

retech (1228598) | about 3 years ago | (#35746208)

Science assumes its truth to be be valid and will be proven false at some point in the future. Religion assumes its truth to be valid and can never be proven false. Both rely on an inherent faith that their truth is true. "The argument is circular, it begins by assuming the truth and then proceeds to prove it." - Frank Herbert Please let the shit storm begin.

Are trolly headlines trolly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746218)

Yes. Yes, they are.

Who cares what the sheep think? (1, Insightful)

evildarkdeathclicheo (978593) | about 3 years ago | (#35746226)

There are billions of people on this little blue marble. If we keep pandering to the ones who don't take the effort to understand the world around them, we're no better then the homo sheepiens. -W

Here's the difference... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746230)

...between science "faith" and religious "faith":

In science, the select few who have done the research and do understand and have to "dumb it down" for the rest of us, they aren't relying on faith. So, although they are a minority, those few have done the research and invested the time and study.

In religion, even those select few who may know the passages and scriptures the best, have no study behind them other than relying on the accounts of ancient text. So even the most "informed" in the religious minded folk are purely running on faith.

Re:Here's the difference... (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 3 years ago | (#35746406)

...between science "faith" and religious "faith":

In science, the select few who have done the research and do understand and have to "dumb it down" for the rest of us, they aren't relying on faith. So, although they are a minority, those few have done the research and invested the time and study.

In religion, even those select few who may know the passages and scriptures the best, have no study behind them other than relying on the accounts of ancient text. So even the most "informed" in the religious minded folk are purely running on faith.

We don't even need to talk about the select few. A large chunk of the population sees vaccines working, understands the basics of Newton's laws, and uses electric power. TFA is a really low quality attempt to use vaguely defined terms to troll the internet. Look at the computer in front of you. It depends on electricity, which you probably understand pretty well. The fact that it's working is a demonstration of the reality and efficacy of a scientific viewpoint. That's why science isn't equivalent to religion.

Here's the difference (2)

jjohnson (62583) | about 3 years ago | (#35746234)

There's a basic, qualitative difference between faith and belief in science. Faith is, by definition, unconditional belief. To have your faith tested is to be given a reason to doubt your faith; to pass that test is to retain your faith despite good cause to abandon it. The core of faithful belief is wilful choice to believe, irrespective of the evidence for or against it.

Scientific belief, for both scientists and lay persons, is ideally 100% conditional. It is totally dependent upon the evidence, and if the evidence changes, so should the belief. That lay persons believe scientists when they say "it's quantum mechanics", without understanding but just trusting scientists, that doesn't make it faith because if tomorrow the scientists say "whoops, it's string theory", then people would say "okay, now it's string theory." Crucially, no one would be lauded for scientific thought if they held onto that belief in quantum mechanics despite the scientific world moving on to something else.

That faithful people dabble in proofs of God's existence, and scientists are frequently dogmatic about their pet theories, demonstrates only that humans are fallible, and neither perfectly faithful or perfectly rational.

What about belief through reason? (1)

digitalmonkey2k1 (521301) | about 3 years ago | (#35746240)

Lets see about this. I woke up on my memory foam mattress (result of science), and drank a cup of coffee that was brewed 45minutes before I woke up (a result of science). Got dressed in my clothes that were, most likely, made on a computerized sewing machine (result of science). Grabbed my laptop, smartphone, and tool bag (results of science), and hopped in my truck (result of science). No, I really don't think I'm relying on faith to make my determination on how I feel about this.

Reason doesn't mean complete understanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746244)

When I hear one guy with a blog say that he can defeat theory of relativity with a train, car, and a fly. I do not believe it and it is not reasonable to believe it.

When i hear it from 20 people that spent 10 years collecting data and that can then that experiment can be retested and redone over and over with the same result is a little different than believing someone 2000+ years ago healed people with touch and he is the son of a god. (this is not just Jesus, hence the lower case god)

Reason is believing the test and outcome because it is rational to believe that because it happens every time you run the test.

Faith is believing with the absences or contradiction of a test that is repeated and only happened once that one person told another person that later wrote it down 100 years later.

To have absolute knowledge of the universe is a different question because if there is a finite amount of information then it is possible but with the universe being infinite who knows. I doubt this will ever happen and if that is what you have to compare against that seems to be an immeasurable standard which goes against what science is with that whole reason bit.

To reason with science is to be able to prove time and time again that your idea works or if it doesn't, then it much change. Faith seems to be very inelastic.

A different perspective (2, Insightful)

willy_me (212994) | about 3 years ago | (#35746246)

It is not about faith / understanding in science - science is not even the term that should be used. It is about understanding the scientific method - a very different thing. Understanding the scientific method is very possible for most people. From there one just needs to see that the scientific method is properly applied in order to accept the results (once peer reviewed.)

Re:A different perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746394)

Mod parent up.

What makes science science is the scientific method. It's an alternate method for discovering truth. The religious method for discovering truth is reading the book of choice and/or taking orders from authority and/or attempting to communicate with a supernatural force.

So the question is really: what method is better at discovering truth? This now goes into game theory... etc... :-)

I do not have faith in Science, I (we) build it (1)

godrik (1287354) | about 3 years ago | (#35746248)

I do not have faith in Newton's mecanical laws of physics. I built it myself in high school. We actually used a device that drops a object with a electric pen that prints every x milliseconds over a rotating paper. After that we computed speed as a function of time then acceleration and show it is constant (ish) over time.

I do not have faith in that. I built it.

By that criteria? (4, Interesting)

mibe (1778804) | about 3 years ago | (#35746250)

In that sense, what ISN'T a matter of faith? How do you know that Columbus sailed to America? I've read about it in a book, but have you ever met anyone who was actually on that boat? And if so, how do you know they weren't lying? You're just putting your faith in a bunch of books, just like in religion right? And in science, if you didn't personally conduct quantum mechanics research, how can you make any conclusions about anything without faith? Of course, you may have realized my point by now, which is that saying "X requires faith, and religion requires faith, thus X is no different from religion" is dumb.

Trust (1)

OrugTor (1114089) | about 3 years ago | (#35746282)

I prefer to characterize my acceptance of scientific results as 'trust'. There is a worldwide community of scientists reviewing and attempting to duplicate results. I trust that the system weeds out incorrect or inadequate hypotheses and what is left is science's current best model of reality. I may not understand most science but I understand how the system works. Faith, as applied to religion, is a mental illness involving the acceptance of ludicrous statements made by religious authority figures without evidence.

Understanding != Accepting (1)

mustPushCart (1871520) | about 3 years ago | (#35746288)

A lot of us cant understand advanced pure science but anyone can understand religion. I could go up to someone and ask them to bottom line Christianity for me and it would be something like 'This person could perform miracles and died for your sins, if you dont follow his teachings you will go to hell'. Now its just a matter of faith if you want to believe such a thing or not.

With science its just that one does not understand it and hence has no opinion about it.

Science can make predictions, and create tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746296)

Science allows us to make predictions, which can then be tested. When the tests don't come out the way we expected, we keep working to find a framework that does make correct predictions. At the extreme, it allows us to predict the behavior of things like transistors, and therefore build them. (Most) lay people aren't stupid; they can see that science gives them iPhones and religion does not give them anything tangible. Religious predictions tend to be things like "the world will end... eventually", because the religions that make specific, near-term predictions end up disproved in a hurry.

Sorry but that's BS (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | about 3 years ago | (#35746298)

We don't have to accept it on faith. Mathematical proofs are either correct or not. Scientific theories, to the extent that they use things like wave equations and whatnot, can be accepted because we know the formulas have been proven rigorously. Furthermore, for a scientific theory to be accepted there must be no data that violates it. The current "standard" models of the world all work just fine --- if they didn't it would be obvious and they would be fixed. It has nothing to to with belief. If you study the foundations of Mathematics, you'll find that there are several different axiom systems at base, and one can accept one (or more) of several systems, some of which yield slightly different interpretations of certain results. (For example, you can accept the Axiom of Choice, or not.) That is not a matter of belief, it is a matter of choosing which tools you want to work with. All proceeds logically from there.

Definitely not blind faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746306)

I may not currently grasp what the experts do. However, unlike religion or anything else that requires blind faith, I COULD know what they know. Sure I'd have to go to school for years, and do research for decades, but the collective knowledge exists and I can trace it.

Definitely (1)

Lord_Jeremy (1612839) | about 3 years ago | (#35746308)

I would most definitely agree with that observation. A great deal of generally accepted science is difficult to understand for those not in the field. The common-knowledge simplified explanations for things like the creation of the universe aren't that much different from the basic concepts of various religions. If you think about it, the major difference between scientific fact and the teachings of most religions seems to be the role of consciousness in the natural laws of this world (universe, plane of existence, etc). Functionally, there's no real difference between the big bang and genesis. They both are said to have been the source of our current existence. The only difference of any importance is that genesis involves a conscious being and the big bang does not. According to christianity, god's will is impossible for people to comprehend. The creation of the universe, by it's very nature, is impossible to comprehend beyond abstractions that humans create (how can you comprehend something with laws that didn't exist at the time of what you are trying to understand). Science and religion are both attempts to explain as much of the natural world as possible, though they both have to falter at some point. The one fundamental difference between the scientific and the religious explanation for everything is the the religious explanation creates a purpose. God's plan is inconceivable, but he has a plan. There is a purpose to the universe, there is a purpose to this planet, and there is a purpose for your life of suffering. If you eliminate the conscious source of everything, than everything is just an accident. Religion gives a sense of security and perhaps even self-importance. It's a safety blanket virtually necessitated by the emotional nature of human beings. In a perfect world, everyone would believe whatever they wanted and never tell anyone else about it.

Same for mathematics (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | about 3 years ago | (#35746318)

Advanced math is way over the head of 99.9% of the population, so in the same spirit we could say that math is based on faith for that (majority) portion of the population.

However, I'm not sure what the point of making such an observation is though, especially using the emotionally-charged term "faith" rather than the more neutral and better applicable term "trust".

Science isn't the same as religion. Science is not based on faith (or trust), but it goes without saying that if you're not smart enough to reproduce an experiment or test a theory yourself, then you do need to trust the results reported by others who are capable.

For Its Own Protection. (2)

sycodon (149926) | about 3 years ago | (#35746320)

"The rest of us rely on experts to explain it, someone who has seen and understood the truth and can dumb it down for us in a language we can understand"

Because of this, for its own protection, Science should be politicaly neutral in all things.

It is one thing for Science to say this is happening or that is happening. It's quite another for it Science to say that we should re-order our society because of it. That is not the place of Science. And because your average individual is not able to reasonably question the science without a considerable amount of effort, if at all, they are left in a position of being told, "do this becase I'm an expert".

Only when Science is perceived to have no stake in how the science is interpreted and acted upon, vis-a-vis public policy, can it be compeletely trusted by those who don't have the means to question it.

Science is tempered by Engineering (1)

billrp (1530055) | about 3 years ago | (#35746328)

It's the engineers who design and build useful things often using theories developed by scientists. Engineers need to understand the basic science on which "things" are built. As an EE/ECE I took a year of solid state physics so I know how transistors work at the quantum level, and Yes some people do understand enough of basic science to make practical use of it.

lolwut? (0, Troll)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 3 years ago | (#35746334)

Who the fuck is a Pastabagel and why would I give a fuck about what he thinks? If he doesn't understand something, he should learn it, and not whine about trusting the "experts" who have actually made the effort.

Malda, this is straight up trolling, and I am disappoint.

Most everyday phenomena are within a laymans grasp (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 years ago | (#35746348)

So QM is hard. That doesn't really matter. Even though it is science (albeit on the borders) it is not something that the ordinary person observes every day and there needs to be explained to them. However the things they/we do see everyday can easily be explained by science - and the scientific explanation holds up to a level of rigour and rationality that "alternative" explanations do not.

For that reason alone, we can say that science is "true". We can even use school-level science to make predictions and then test those predictions with school-level equipment. That is another thing that faith based views of the world cannot do. It's only when scientists start talking in abstract terms, about things that a person cannot see, touch, hear or taste that things get a little more detached from reality. However, for the average person who's only knowledge of TV is that when you press the button on the remote control - the set comes on is concerned, that's good enough and more satisfactory than other explanations.

No I don't; here's why... (1)

Puli (705064) | about 3 years ago | (#35746354)

"Do you really know what an atom is, or that a Higgs boson is a rather important thing, or did you simply accept they were what someone told you they were?" ---> No I don't know what an atom is first hand. But to know everything first hand isn't practical either. There's just way too much information out there to experience, if one embarks on such a journey.

Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746364)

Yes, but to a certain degree science is based on a series of logical steps. Many of the earliest simple experiments that are the foundation for the more complex science are easy enough for the average person with a high school education to understand. Therefore, we can at least be confident in the groundwork that leads scientists to the larger theories and conclusions. Belief in a god has no logical basis and requires no concrete evidence at even the most basic level. There is a big difference between following a chain of logic and blind faith.

Obey Gravity - It is the Law! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746366)

Science is the process of discovery of natural cause and effect through objective experimentation. We have to work hard to remove our human-animal subjective biases and subjective thinking from influencing the experiment. Double blind experiments try to eliminate experimenter biases so the real results show through.

Do some reading up on Facilitated Communication to see the real damage (false molestation charges) caused by sloppy, subjective research and poor evaluation.

The discipline of Science is the ultimate expression of the human animal, the ability to think and reason beyond our limited senses, limited experience, and communicate universal truths, thoughts and ideas.

science is the opposite of faith (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 3 years ago | (#35746368)

but what is true is to say that scientists are human beings, and are therefore prone to the same psychological short cuts, the same hubristic fallacies of faith that any human being is prone to

for example: string theory. untestable nonsense, building castles in the sky. a mathematician's fantasy life, of no use whatsover to the real pursuit of science. why so much time and energy is spent wasted on this in academia is a story of faith, not of science

but perhaps the best example i can think of academic scientists acting with the same blindness, arrogance, shortsightedness, and folly as a bunch churchgoers in a pew, is the story of the resistance to two australian's path to the nobel prize:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Warren [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Marshall [wikipedia.org]

these guys were laughed at and heckled. because their hypothesis and data, that a bacterium can cause ulcers, counteracted existing dogma that it was just stress. yes, there is dogma amongst scientists... but not science. what is agreed upon, is not to be questioned, is dogma. even though, of course, in real science, anything can be questioned. science is not dogmatic. scientists are. because scientists are human beings, and we have our weaknesses and our psychological shortcuts

Understanding (1)

Bazman (4849) | about 3 years ago | (#35746376)

To "understand" something means to figure out what "stands under" it. Like Newton figured out that the moon and the apple were both subject to the same force, he understood gravity on that level. It was still a mysterious action-at-a-distance, and Newton never got any further in his understanding. Then Einstein comes along and understands it as space-time curved by mass. But he didn't understand where mass came from (that's still up for grabs, and our best bit is the Higgs boson coupling mechanism).

So it's always the case that a physicist is going to say they don't understand something - otherwise their job is done or they are an arrogant idiot. So what Feynman was saying is that "yup, its a quantum world at very small scales, but we don't really know why below that. Maybe someone else will figure it out". Maybe it will be multiple universes interacting with ours via some unknown force, or multi-dimensional branes colliding. But there might always be something in science we dont "understand".

Evolutionary... (1)

CozmoKramer (1838384) | about 3 years ago | (#35746378)

The circular logic to your comment is that science has given you a medium (Slashdot) to voice your concerns. I don't have the faintest idea where I would start if I were to try and understand the sciences you mention. However, I DO think that understanding science(s) is based on our own evolution in the way that some scientific findings are eventually accepted as "truths". For example, 4000 years ago, we had no concept of the number 0. Basic math which my 3 year old daughter understands quite fully. A few hundred years ago, our planet was thought to be flat. Once again, we learn very early in our lives that the Earth is flat. My expectation is this : Give us another 500 or 1000 years, and we'll have quantum mechanics in elementary school. You heard it here first.

education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746386)

I don't believe it is a problem with the way that we learn science, I think that it is a problem with the way we look at/ prioritize/ accept/ teach science as a culture. Science and mathematics need not be simply held by the faith of more studious analytically based people.
Math can be taught as more of an interactive universal language, instead of hard repetition numbers and examples, and children can be taught from an earlier age about science. We are taught that math and science are hard. They are not, we just need a more organic way of learning/teaching it.

practical results establish authority (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35746402)

Science, even for the layperson, is not merely acceptance of truth based on authority. Trusting experts must certainly come into play when assessing the rigor of an individual physicist or an individual scientific theory (e.g., as a biologist, I am not qualified to critically assess a particular theory about time travel). But the authority of physicists as a community is established by their ability to deliver results. A physical understanding of the universe has utterly transformed our world. I can post a comment on the internet because those experts came up with some theories about things like semiconductors. I don't believe alchemists because they still haven't turned lead into gold; I believe physicists because they have (or at least, turned hydrogen into helium).

Reasonable Belief vs Blind Faith (0)

poity (465672) | about 3 years ago | (#35746412)

Science is looking at empirical reasons and formulating a belief.
Religion is deciding what to believe and making up reasons for it.
Sure, they're both "beliefs" but that's an irrelevant technicality isn't it?

Maybe the only place where science and religion are alike is in the early classroom where kids aren't yet taught the scientific process, but are taught to memorize scientific facts. I know back in elementary the smart-ass kid in the back would keep asking "why" and the teacher would get pissed and say "it just is, stop asking" But then, that's still not the fault of science. :p

Of Course it's a matter of Faith (1)

NReitzel (77941) | about 3 years ago | (#35746416)

Scientists have faith; they believe in the following two axioms:

      1. There exists only one objective truth.
      2. Any group of people can find the same objective truth (corollary: There is no Priestly Class)

Everything else follows. When someone says, "This is the Truth" a scientist, being a skeptic, says "Oh, Really? Evidence?" In our scientific journals not only is opinion expressed, but how the opinion was formed, and the procedures used to get at it. Many, many times in the past, a well believed scientific precept was waiting for someone else to say, "Now wait a darn minute..." and prove them wrong. In my field, chemistry, there was a very famous disagreement between two chemists, Olah (the new kid) and Brown (the highly lauded Old Guard). For years, Brown said most unflattering things about Olah, but the Truth was there, and as time went on, more and more chemists found the results that had guided Olah, and more examples besides. In the end, the Old Guard was shown to be wrong. This is how science works, and this is why science works.

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