Sunday, January 30, 2005

What do you believe?

"What do YOU believe in? Anything?"

I believe that my senses aren't lying to me and that the universe is comprehensible. I will also trust peer reviewed assertions by like-minded individuals, i.e. science.

I also have a number of beliefs that have little to do with the fact-finding enterprise of science and have to do with things like morality, politics, economics, and such. But these are reasoned
approaches under admittedly limited information. That's why they are beliefs.

"Why do you believe these things?"

I believe in science because science has proven itself reliable by what it has done. Vaccines and computers and such. This is not to say that science is infallible, it isn't. But it is the best way humanity has devised of amassing knowledge of the universe to date.

"Is it perhaps because it would be quite uncomfortable to live in a universe where these things were NOT reliable? And if so, is it possible that your desire to avoid such discomfort colors your reasoning here?"

I think not. I don't "need" a reliable source for information. But here it is. If science did not exist, then I no doubt would be very religious. I wouldn't know any better.

"What's an example of these [beliefs that have little to do with the fact-finding enterprise of science]?"

Oh, things that I'm not sure are appropriate for this board (The Frum Skeptics Group). Things like my approval of charity. Or that there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality. Things that do not rely on facts, but on opinion and chosen axioms.

I can tell you, using reason, why I think the death penalty is a good thing but you can disagree with me because your reason cares more about one thing over another. Suppose you value a human life over justice then you'd be against the death penalty, while with the opposite comparison you'd be for it. Values, such as human life or justice, don't hold simple factual foundations. We think these are_good_ things (I'm assuming you share this view) but "goodness"isn't an objective fact.

PS. Arguments for the death penalty may be much more complex than the ones presented. I was simplifying to demonstrate the point.

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