From a prior thread, Kerry commented:
Actually, it's not silly at all. Falling back on mere faith because there is no evidence, but the feeling one ought to believe anyway is vastly inferior to finding evidence. Science has nothing to apologize for. It has been moving forward now for centuries and has never once submitted a mistake in its knowledge to faith in religious matters. But religion absolutely has caved in time and time and time again to the knowledge and findings of science.
For the record, science has absolutely caved in time and time again to the knowledge and findings of science. Just as religion has caved in time and time again to the findings of religion. The issue is always whether one's paradigm is based a on definition that includes self correction as a matter of course, rather than a paradigm for which any revisions, any repentence in thinking brings grounds for an epistomelogical and ontological crisis.
Take the ways science continually erodes the findings of science in a way that somehow enhances it's prestige rather than discrediting itself.
Simulaneously, these same historians [of science] confront growing difficulties in distinguishing the 'scientific' component of past observation and belief from what their predicessors had readily labeled 'error' and 'superstition.' The more carefully they study, say Aristotelian dynamics, phlogistic chemistry, or caloric thermodynamics, the more certain they feel that those once current views of nature were, as whole, neither less scientific nor more the product of human idiosynchracy than those current today. If these out-of-date beliefs are to be called myths, then myths can be produced by the same sorts of reasons that now lead to scientific knowledge. If, on the other hand, they are to be called science, then science has included bodies of belief quite incompatible with the ones we hold today. Given these alternatives, the historian must choose the later. Out of date theories are not in principle unscientific because they have been discarded.
See Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, p 2-3.
Normal science, the activity in which most scientists spend almost all their time is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like...Normal science, for example, often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic committments Nevertheless, so long as those committments retain an element of the arbitrary, the very nature of normal research ensures that novelty shall not be suppressed for very long.
For these men, the new theory implies a change in the rules governing the prior practice of normal science. Inevitably, therefore, it [a new theory] reflects upon much scientific work they have already successfully completed.
No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena; indeed those that will not fit the box are not often seen at all. Nor do scientists normally aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of those invented by others. Indeed, normal scientific research directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories the paradigm already supplies.
The recent news about the indications of the Higgs boson are illustrative. The construction of the supercollider and the recent batch of experiments, and current indications all demonstrate more than anything else the importance of the faith underlying scientific research. If we build this huge machine, and conduct these particular experiments with these instruments watching for this kind of indication then it will confirm our existing expectations. If we build a bigger better supercollider, we will find evidence of things hoped for, but not yet seen.
As Kuhn put it:
[T]he issue is which paradigm should in the future guide research on problems many of which neither competitor can yet claim to resolve completely. A decision between alternate ways of practicing science is called for, and in the circumstances, that decision must be based less on past achievement than on future promise. The man who embraces a new paradigm at an early stage must often do so in difiance of the evidence provided by problem solving. He must, that is, have faith that the new paradigm will succeed with the many large problems that confront it, knowing only that the older paradigm has failed with a few. A decision of that kind can only be made on faith.
Telling a story about science versus religion is easy to populate with paradigmatic examples that pound home a specific moral. But doing so involves an obvious selectivity, a purposeful contextualization, an obvious set of valuations, and a temporally restricted perspective.
My religion is not of stasis, of resistance to new ideas based on the creed that my ideas are the one and only set of true ideas. Rather its based on the notion of something well pleasing relative to revelation, priesthood, and covenants, but non-exclusve relative to relelation, virtue and truth. I'm told of my religious leaders that "inasmuch as they erred, it shall be made manifest...inasmuch as they sought wisdom, they might be instructed,... and receive knowledge from time to time." (See D&C 124-28)
I don't see any precident in any human history to justify the assumption that God [or Science, if that is one's God] would not let my favored human authority be wrong about this or that, or permit this or that to happen.
It's easy to tell a story in which science is always right and progressive, and religion is always wrong and regressive. But telling that story involves the principles of story telling: selecting plot, background, context, assignment of antagonists, protagonists, which events to mention, and which to ignore. It's easy to put science in the role of progress when none of the mistakes made by scientists count. It's easy to place religion in the role of obstruction by a simple matter of mentioning only moments of obstruction.
Nibley, "Some Notes on the Sophic and Mantic"
Proposition 4: Claiming magisterial authority, the Sophic acknowledges no possibility of defeat or rivalry. In principle it can never be wrong. It's confidence is absolute.
A. Successive failures in no wise discourage it.
Nibley, The Ancient State, 391
Arising in protest to the Mantic, the Sophic always depends on polemic for its appeal; it feeds on the Mantic and is negative and dependent in nature."
...Proposition 9: The world without the Mantic offers the best test of the Sophic. It is marked by (A) piteous disappointment, (B) a puzzling deadness of spirit, and (_c) a world plagued by doubt, insecurity, cynicism, and despair.
Nibley, The Ancient State, 421.
For science as a process compared to religion, see David Bailey here:
And Ian Barbour has observed that:
"a network of theories and observations is always tested together. Any particular hypothesis can be maintained by rejecting or adjusting other auxiliary hypotheses." Barbour, 99.
All of the "evidence" that I have ever seen put forward as proof of the non-existence of God and the failures of religion are based on un-examined networks of assumptions. Assumptions that I do not share. For instance, evidence of the age of the earth, the extant of the cosmos, biological evolution that might seem shattering when banged against a young earth fundamentalist paradigm, fits very nicely with my reading of the Book of Moses and Abraham. "Worlds without number..." "Let the earth be prepared that it might bring forth..." Future potential tense, as Nibley points out. The times in Abraham take "until..." which means take all the time you need. Concerning the degree to which creatures reproduce after their own kind, we are told that they are "very obedient," "very" implying varation, and variety, we are told, gives beauty. It's one thing to rail against the Biblical claim that the earth was created in six days. It's quite anothing thing to expose the network of assumptions involved when comparing that claim not just to evolution, but to Margaret Barker's observation that it is quite possible to build a model of the earth in six days, as part of the ritual of erecting the tabernacle. Evidence of a mistake in interpretation affects a set of assumptions within a larger network. One person's failure to allow for adjustments in their network of assumptions is not the same thing as a disproof of God.
And what about the best evidence put forward by believers of all faiths towards their belief?
This is from my Model of Mormon Religious Experience:
If approached without reference to any particular doctrinal interpretation, Ian Barbour suggests that these kinds of [religious] experience can serve as a common ground for discussion, a place of solid footing, a point of little disputed reference from which to examine the varied interpretations and traditions. Those I shall discuss in this paper (following Barbour) can be seen as generally framing a movement:
(a) From responses to external impressions regarding:
Order and creativity in the world
The common mythic symbols and patterns underlying most religious traditions
Key historical events that define separate traditions and bind individuals
(b) Through the innermost experiences of the individual:
Numinous awe and reverence
Reorientation and Reconciliation with respect to personal sin, guilt, and weakness, the existence of evil, suffering, and death, and tensions between science and faith.
© Then returning to the external world as human action:
Personal dialogue where you begin interpret external events as God speaking to you, and you answer through your own actions.
Social and Ritual behavior
These matters cannot objectively prove the existence of a God (whether personal or impersonal), but, as I hope to demonstrate, they do constitute the core of religious experience for believers. They provide the ground of experience on which reasoned and feeling assessments of the validity and worth of faith are based. They encompass the ways in which spirituality is manifest in history and symbol. They are the wine—and doctrine the wine-bottles. To argue and contend about doctrine is to emphasize the wine skin over the wine. In Alma’s terms, it is to emphasize what you think you “know” over what ultimately gives “cause to believe” (Alma 32:18).
Carl Sagan, of course, put forward the hypothesis that people are afraid of the dark, and so, invented a teddy bear named God to comfort them. Never mind that the hypothesis does not lead to the data that Barbour describes because Sagan's scientific explorations were not designed to discover the cause to believe that real people have expressed in their lives, but rather to confirm his hypothesis of a demon haunted world. Yep.
I'm perfectly happy to settle for cause to believe, and an ongoing experience of fruitfulness in my studies and experience, of mind expanding enlightenment, of having my soul enlarged, an enjoyment of the simplicity and beauty of the gospel, and of moving towards a beckoning future promise. One thing I will not do is complain that God does not coerce my unwilling submission by forcing universal belief and obedience, or that God would prevent members of my faith community from doing or saying anything that might embarrass me in front of my sophisticated friends. If I'm holding out for that kind of God, that may very well be the only kind of God I find. Being forced to my knees does not strike me as a pleasant experience.
Religion, as preached by Joseph Smith involves constant repentence, not smug satisfaction regarding the one's present station before God. That mistakes in science and religion, and personal biography and favored community and friends, have been made, and will be made, is not a big deal if we approach each day striving to be "greater followers of righteousness."
Bethel Park, PA
Edited by Kevin Christensen, 30 July 2012 - 10:11 AM.