QUOTE (Edward Cardinal Elric @ Aug 17 2010, 02:49 AM)
It really bothers me that some individuals treat those who "have faith" in some tenet or system of beliefs as irrational, uneducated, immature blockheads who are incapable of thinking systematically and logically. A plain reading of the definition of faith reveals that although faith does not require proof, it is also not the polar opposite of reason. Faith may not rely on truth, but it also does not exclude it. Faith is, at least ideally, meant to be guided by reason and spawn organically from rational and logical thought processes.
People who rely on faith may or may not be blockheads; it's not up to me to decide if they are. However, relying on faith does not lead to an unclear form of truth. If this is restricted to the individual's personal beliefs and opinions that do not affect public issues, that's not a problem. But now if you were to suggest that faith is alright to affect reason, in the sense that we allow faith to affect our decisions where things like science, government, and the general public are concerned, then I think it is not a good idea. Faith is arbitrary. It cannot help us make informed decisions--it prevents us from becoming informed because it says we should be content with not knowing, even if it is possible to discover the truth.
Faith does not require proof because it is not falsifiable. However, the fact that it is also not falsifiable means that it falls outside of the realms of rationality and reason. We require falsifiability in reason because if something cannot be falsifiable, there is no point in testing or even considering it--you can't talk about if it could be wrong, or under which conditions is the statement false. It doesn't matter if you think faith is guided by reason or not; you can't get anything much out of having faith.
What I do like from an overall read of this thread is that many commenters seem to be alluding to the idea that there is a single unified body of facts that make up truth. As ideological relativism is another of my pet peeves, I am glad to see that some at least appear to espouse the concept of objective truth. I would go so far as to argue that the validity of the existence of God in some form is really a question of reason and not faith, but introducing that postulation would likely derail this thread and result in quite a bit of tedious debate. This being the case, I will save that point for another place and time.
I would disagree because no one has a clear definition of what god is. Such an inquiry becomes meaningless unless you have a definition of god that can be tested, is meaningful and unambiguous. But when you have interpretations of god that include a 900 foot statue of Jesus, metaphors of nature, and not even deciding which religion best describes god, it is not a useful inquiry to ask if god exists. And when you stick to one definition, religious people shift goalposts, and change the definition of god.
I would argue that this statement isn't even internally consistent. One's senses are the only means by which one is able to gather concrete information about the world and its contents. It orders to employ the scientific method, one needs to use one's senses. I need to utilize the sight provided to me via my eye to read a graduated cylinder, after all.
Ja, but the scientific method is there to circumvent the problems with our senses. By using logic, we do not need to rely on our senses. Our senses are only a means of perceiving information; however, it is not the only way in which we can make observations or measure them. For example, we create rulers, telescopes, scales and other such devices--we cannot by ourselves determine the length of something just by looking at it with our senses because it is not consistent among different people what length an object has. Instead, we create a universal standard (the metric system) that is consistent among different people, and we analyze the differences (perhaps my ruler is off by a tiny 0.1micrometers. Not a big deal, according to certain statistical analyses...). This standard does not rely on our senses. It doesn't matter how long or how short you think an object is; it has the same length because we measure it according to the same standards. Now it's not exactly important what this standard is, as using the metric system or using the imperial system isn't a big deal--you can convert from one system to the other using math. The whole point of having this system is that you can measure something with consistently sized units rather than arbitrary ones created by your senses.
And while you may need your senses to read the results of an experiment, yours aren't the only ones--there will be other people performing a similar experiment, and who may either see the same result, or something slightly different. And here is where the problem of our senses gets resolved--when you have lots of people converging on the same result, it is most likely true. The probability that people arbitrarily agreed on the same result is not a coincidence--most people who have conducted the same experiment are doing so independently of each other, and you therefore cannot expect their sense to be the same (ie, they may all be unreliable). However, the fact that their results converge on a singular value indicates that there is some truth. Again, there are mathematical and statistical analyses for determining the validity of these results. It is precisely because we cannot rely on our senses that we do not know 100% whether or not these results will yield a truth, but science does not concern itself with obtaining absolute truth, so much as refining and improving what we know.
It is for this reason that I like mathematics. It works, regardless of how bad your senses are. You can doubt something all you like in mathematics. But by using a few logical principles, things that are true (or false) no matter how unreliable your senses are, you can prove things in math, and use them over and over again. Mathematics is not based on our senses; it is based off of abstract ideas.