[LINK] atheism

Brendan Scott brendansweb at optusnet.com.au
Fri Mar 2 15:07:29 AEDT 2007

Karl Auer wrote:
> On Fri, 2007-03-02 at 13:32 +1100, Brendan Scott wrote:
>>> Dawkins' argument is that faith is bad; that encouraging, praising and
>>> rewarding faith is anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-knowledge and
>>> anti-human.
>> I have not read the book.  However, if this is his thesis it is
>> plainly false.  Everyone believes something - indeed I believe most of
>> everyone's daily lives is dictated by one belief or another.
> Huh? Belief is not the same thing as faith. Belief in a wrong thing can
> easily arise, and as easily be disposed of by the judicious application
> of facts. In the absence of facts, one can accepting that one simply
> does not know. Even then, an intelligent person can generally make some
> kind of rational assessment of the probability that a given belief is
> true, or if it is not true or false, whether it might be appropriate or
> not.
> Faith is set up in the absence of facts, even in spite of the facts. It
> continues in the face of facts, and is typified by belief in things that
> are one or all of demonstrably false, wildly improbable or unnecessarily
> complex.

I think at its crux it all gets down to belief. 

Is it (eg) a fact that Jesus healed the lame and the sick?

Is it (eg) a fact that the total amount of matter and energy in the universe is constant?

What is the probability of each of these being true?  Is your (or my) opinion on this probability relevant?  How would someone be qualified to give an opinion?

Belief is an extremely pragmatic tool which helps people get on with their daily lives.  Some people (probably most people?) clearly think others believe too much or believe the wrong thing - but that's essentially a political argument, not a rational one (because at the base of it all is an appeal to the authority of the scientific method). 

>> There's plenty of philosophy of science type stuff to show that any
>> science which has an interplay with the real world is always
>> contingent.  
> Absolutely. But never contingent on denying that which is either
> patently true or (in the absence of fact) most probably true.
> Perhaps you should read the book.


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