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Thread: Science and Faith

  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny
    I can't really see how it's possible for anyone to have what I would call "faith", just as I don't think that people are clairvoyant. I'd use words like trust or presumption or expectation or hope... but faith doesn't mean anything to me.
    ...
    You only need faith to come to a blind, meaningless and arbitrary conclusion. Why would you need faith when you can come to an understanding of the probability that the axioms you use are justified?

    Again, maybe it's the word "faith" (or the concept behind it) that we disagree on...?
    I would say "faith" includes some of the synonyms you mention: trust, presumption, exectation, but not hope. To me, faith means accepting something as likely to be true even though I can't be certain of it. I don't want to take it to some Cartesian, philosophical extreme and ask "of what can I be certain?". On a philosophical level, words like "truth" and "proof" are just fictions we create, but they are very useful fictions on a practical level because they help us communicate and make decisions.

    At the risk of insulting you, I believe your approach to scientific beliefs is the same as mine. I judge scientific claims as likely to be true, questionable, or unlikely to be true based on my personal experiences. I don't have a background in science or mathematics so I don't judge claims on a technical level very often. I do, however, have an awareness that scientific discoveries have lead to amazing technical capabilities and so I am inclined to believe the scientific community, even when it makes claims that defy my sense of logic. I also appreciate the value and necessity of higher math in establishing scientific theories even though I can't understand the math myself; you don't get to the moon by pointing a rocket at it and pulling the trigger.

    But the scientific community is not always in agreement. In those situations I can choose what to believe based on personal preference, and it should be obvious this would be a faith based belief. It's not much of a stretch to look at all beliefs as being faith based.

    I used to believe that light was composed of individual particles we call photons. Didn't they prove that in experiments? Now my faith in that is being called into question.

    I just downloaded a book on quantum field theory. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention. It is already changing my perspective on physics. I'm a little pissed off at the academic community for failing to introduce QFT in classrooms for the last 50 years. It appears that QFT has had a much better track record over the years than relativity or quantum mechanics when it comes to making accurate predictions that can be verified via multi-billion dollar experiments.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    How so? Maybe it's the word "faith" that is unclear to me.

    I can't really see how it's possible for anyone to have what I would call "faith", just as I don't think that people are clairvoyant. I'd use words like trust or presumption or expectation or hope... but faith doesn't mean anything to me.

    [...]

    No! You only need faith to come to a blind, meaningless and arbitrary conclusion. Why would you need faith when you can come to an understanding of the probability that the axioms you use are justified?

    Again, maybe it's the word "faith" (or the concept behind it) that we disagree on...?


    [...]

    True. There wouldn't be an entire branch of philosophy called "epistemology" if this weren't a real problem that we all face. Psychological biases make the problem of knowledge particularly difficult.

    Solipsism is an extreme position of doubt, where you only accept what you know to be true. But it isn't very practical. Certain aspects of reality seem reliably predictable and coherent, at least in an abstract sense. We can put a man on the moon. That requires great understand of the nature of "reality".

    Maybe Neil Armstrong was/is a solipsist. Maybe he's convinced that nothing exists outside his own mind. But he can't just "turn off" the hallucination of reality. So... why not enjoy the hallucination...? Why not go to space and jump around on the moon, even if it is just a dream? The experience is real. Just like our experience of night-time dreams is real, even though the events we dreamt of never happened.

    And we may not know something to be the case in Boolean (true/false) terms, but that doesn't mean that the information that we have can't guide us towards a vaguely accurate idea of how reality works. Science shows how persistent an hallucination reality is.



    Hmmm... I have no reason to doubt them. And experience and history suggests that these people know more than I do, and are much better at describing reality than I am... so if they ever talk about something that's fundamentally important to my existence, I'll defer to their expertise. Otherwise, I don't have any faith. Again... maybe that's just semantics.
    I am unsure of the extent to which this is a semantics issue just yet, but I'll try to clarify a bit of what I added before.

    I think Drifter is right to say that "...to hold any belief at all, whether scientific, religious or what ever, requires an element of faith." To use your example of clairvoyance: I don't assert the belief that clairvoyance is a real phenomenon, but I also do not assert that it is impossible. Either claim requires faith in a mental model of reality, a set of beliefs or conclusions about it.

    You are quite correct that solipsism is, by itself, impractical. It's important to recognize that all beliefs are inferential and that there is no such thing as direct knowledge of reality... we operate exclusively on heuristics. But it's also important to recognize that we need those heuristics, that cognition is impossible without them, as I think you're pointing out. So the challenge becomes one of striking the right balance between leveraging heuristics to useful effect without becoming stuck on them. Once a heuristic becomes something we accept as truth, it blinds us to the potential for new and better ways of thinking, just as the notion of absolute spacetime did for scientists trying to understand the movement of light. One of the things that, IMO, made Einstein a genius was that he was willing to call into question such basic, "obvious" ideas about how reality operates, even when his considerations led him to almost-contradictory conclusions (e.g. the Twin Paradox).

    One of the factors that attracts me to Buddhist philosophy is how understandings of reality are considered and compared. They say that some understandings are "more skillful," rather than "more accurate." The problem with terming a model of reality "more accurate" is that it presumes the existence of a perfect model, and attempts to measure how well this hypothetical ultimate truth is being approximated. There is implicit faith in the notion of there being a "right answer" to be found and accepted. As with faith in any other idea, this way of looking at things is self-limiting — in particular, it encourages the establishment of faith in other ideas in pursuit of "the truth." It's not necessary to assume that there is any truth "out there" to be approximated, nor by extension to grasp more tightly to ideas that we've decided are probably true. Rather, the heuristics we rely on to establish any understanding of reality are best considered simply as tools; some are more useful than others for various purposes, but it's essential to see that they all have limitations, and to be prepared to put them down when they are no longer the best approach. "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail," and some of those so-called "nails" are incredibly difficult to hammer. ^.^ A more skillful carpenter knows when to apply the hammer and when it will only make a mess; he doesn't believe in a single perfect tool.

    Does that make sense? Sorry if it is a little abstract. ^^;

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    I would say "faith" includes some of the synonyms you mention: trust, presumption, exectation, but not hope. To me, faith means accepting something as likely to be true even though I can't be certain of it.
    So you don't consider hope to be a part of faith... Interesting. Do others feel the same? Do we each take "faith" to mean slightly different things...? Very different things...?




    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    I don't want to take it to some Cartesian, philosophical extreme and ask "of what can I be certain?". On a philosophical level, words like "truth" and "proof" are just fictions we create, but they are very useful fictions on a practical level because they help us communicate and make decisions.
    Absolutely! I couldn't have put it better myself!

    Reality may be an illusion, but it is a very persistent one -- and there's no alternative! What does a solipsist (extreme sceptic) do if (s)he doesn't accept reality?

    On a practical level, the vast majority of people can (and do) get by just "assuming" that reality is real. An a fairly basic sense of maths, science, psychology and philosophy is enough. But doubt is always present, and people can be mistaken.

    Experience show us how useful academic essays and research are, even though they often contradict each other. The only way people can learn beyond their own limited experiences, is to open them up to public (or peer) scrutiny.

    Darwin's famous theory of evolution has a number of "errors" (according to the modern orthodoxy), yet that doesn't make it any less of an important work. Newton was wrong to claim that his laws of motion are universal; but again, they are incredibly useful.

    Science and the other disciplines aren't just one body of knowledge. It's not the case that you need to "believe" or "not believe" in any particular theory. (Or "have faith" if you prefer.) You could just reserve judgement and defer to the experts. This is exactly what happens in the judicial process.

    ------------------------------------------------
    We are all non-experts. Not a single person can be an expert in all disciplines of knowledge. But experience reliably shows us how incredibly useful these arcane academics are, even if they draw squiggly diagrams we don't understand and keep making up bizarre words all the time!

    But they keep coming up with these whizbang inventions that make life so much easier! I don't really understand how a motor car works, but I don't call into (much) question the expertise of the designers and manufacturers.

    So, based on past experience, academics are (to an extent) worthy of trust. But not (what I would call) "faith" -- faith (for me) has an element of blind arbitrariness, rather than it being a rational decision.
    ------------------------------------------------

    As a society we need to take advanced academic study seriously, even if we don't fully understand it ourselves. I'd go so far as saying that our species has a moral obligation to advance our knowledge.

    And on a more personal level, I think it's very useful to have a basic understanding of philosophy and psychology so that you can get a better understanding of how your mind works, and how to interpret your perceptions more reliably.



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    At the risk of insulting you, I believe your approach to scientific beliefs is the same as mine. I judge scientific claims as likely to be true, questionable, or unlikely to be true based on my personal experiences. I don't have a background in science or mathematics so I don't judge claims on a technical level very often. I do, however, have an awareness that scientific discoveries have lead to amazing technical capabilities and so I am inclined to believe the scientific community, even when it makes claims that defy my sense of logic. I also appreciate the value and necessity of higher math in establishing scientific theories even though I can't understand the math myself; you don't get to the moon by pointing a rocket at it and pulling the trigger.
    Insulting me?! Gasp! How dare you?! Ha ha -- nah, it's cool! I think you're right -- we do have very similar approaches to knowledge, I think... probably identical in practise.

    "Faith" for me is a very loaded word. It's not a word you hear very often in conversation, and when it crops up, it always related to either an untestable supernatural belief or blind optimism. It's just a word that sends my bullshit detector crazy.

    And when I read about new scientific discoveries, I don't tend to believe them or not. I usually just read with interest and consider the possible theoretical implications.



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    But the scientific community is not always in agreement. In those situations I can choose what to believe based on personal preference, and it should be obvious this would be a faith based belief.
    Whaaaaaat?! No, no, no, no, no!

    You can't, from a position of ignorance, arbitrarily choose what reality is like based upon "personal preference". (Unless philosophical idealism is true, reality exists independently of what you choose to believe!)

    This is why the word "faith" makes me suspicious. Why have faith in something if you have no idea and have just picked the theory that "sounds nicest". That's not the way to seek the truth!



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    It's not much of a stretch to look at all beliefs as being faith based.
    *Shudder* Stop using the F-word! It gives me the willies!

    Could we not consider those "beliefs" as being merely tentative abstractions of one of many models of reality that a person might hold...?



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    I used to believe that light was composed of individual particles we call photons. Didn't they prove that in experiments? Now my faith in that is being called into question.
    Ah, well... historically, light was assumed (and "proven") to behave as a wave. Einstein came up with photoelectric effect theory, where light was "shown" to behave as if it were made up of discrete particles called photons. Light behaved as a wave in some cases, and particulately in other cases. The paradox was called "wave-particle duality", and is most famously demonstrated with the "double-slit" experiment.

    http://photonterrace.net/en/photon/history/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave%E...rticle_duality
    https://plus.maths.org/content/physi...t-experiment-0

    So, in my opinion, both particles and waves are epiphenomena that are somehow confusing us to the more fundamental workings of reality.



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    I just downloaded a book on quantum field theory. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention. It is already changing my perspective on physics. I'm a little pissed off at the academic community for failing to introduce QFT in classrooms for the last 50 years. It appears that QFT has had a much better track record over the years than relativity or quantum mechanics when it comes to making accurate predictions that can be verified via multi-billion dollar experiments.
    Nice one! Glad I helped you find something interesting! :-) My knowledge on all matters is best summed up with "jack of all trades; master of none" so it sounds like you already know more than I do on the matter. :-)

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphyre View Post
    I think Drifter is right to say that "...to hold any belief at all, whether scientific, religious or what ever, requires an element of faith." To use your example of clairvoyance: I don't assert the belief that clairvoyance is a real phenomenon, but I also do not assert that it is impossible. Either claim requires faith in a mental model of reality, a set of beliefs or conclusions about it.
    Is it "faith" or just a pragmatic assessment of probability...? Are they the same thing...?



    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphyre View Post
    You are quite correct that solipsism is, by itself, impractical. It's important to recognize that all beliefs are inferential and that there is no such thing as direct knowledge of reality... we operate exclusively on heuristics. But it's also important to recognize that we need those heuristics, that cognition is impossible without them, as I think you're pointing out. So the challenge becomes one of striking the right balance between leveraging heuristics to useful effect without becoming stuck on them. Once a heuristic becomes something we accept as truth, it blinds us to the potential for new and better ways of thinking, just as the notion of absolute spacetime did for scientists trying to understand the movement of light. One of the things that, IMO, made Einstein a genius was that he was willing to call into question such basic, "obvious" ideas about how reality operates, even when his considerations led him to almost-contradictory conclusions (e.g. the Twin Paradox).
    Wow. Not only do I agree, but that's very eloquently explained!



    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphyre View Post
    One of the factors that attracts me to Buddhist philosophy is how understandings of reality are considered and compared. They say that some understandings are "more skillful," rather than "more accurate." The problem with terming a model of reality "more accurate" is that it presumes the existence of a perfect model, and attempts to measure how well this hypothetical ultimate truth is being approximated. There is implicit faith in the notion of there being a "right answer" to be found and accepted. As with faith in any other idea, this way of looking at things is self-limiting in particular, it encourages the establishment of faith in other ideas in pursuit of "the truth." It's not necessary to assume that there is any truth "out there" to be approximated, nor by extension to grasp more tightly to ideas that we've decided are probably true. Rather, the heuristics we rely on to establish any understanding of reality are best considered simply as tools; some are more useful than others for various purposes, but it's essential to see that they all have limitations, and to be prepared to put them down when they are no longer the best approach. "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail," and some of those so-called "nails" are incredibly difficult to hammer. ^.^ A more skillful carpenter knows when to apply the hammer and when it will only make a mess; he doesn't believe in a single perfect tool.

    Does that make sense? Sorry if it is a little abstract. ^^;
    Yyyyyyes... I think so. Interesting point.

    Maybe I'd say "more useful" rather than "more skilful", but... now I think about it... aren't those two things the same...? To be "skilled at living" is to draw on the things that are "useful"...? Hmm...

    I know some of the basics of Western philosophy, but I know nothing of Eastern or Buddhist philosophy. Always good to hear things from another point-of-view. :-)

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    Is it "faith" or just a pragmatic assessment of probability...? Are they the same thing...?
    I'm honestly unsure how to estimate the probability of clairvoyance being a measurable phenomenon in general. Quantum physics has already shown that at least one of two seemingly obvious inferences about reality — that it is deterministic or that it is local — must be false. Interestingly, the two possibilities are experimentally equivalent: either physical phenomena are truly random at some level (it is non-deterministic), or they hinge upon the state of the entire universe including seemingly distant, disconnected goings-on (it is non-local). The fact that these possibilities are experimentally equivalent suggests they may simply be two methods of modeling / understanding the same thing.

    If the universe is indeed non-local, and if biologically mediated thought processes involve quantum phenomena… the possibility of remote sensing is, in Mythbusters lingo, "plausible."

    On the other hand, the probability that an individual claiming clairvoyant capabilities is in fact a charlatan (particularly when marketing their skills for profit) is rather high. ^.^



    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    Wow. Not only do I agree, but that's very eloquently explained!
    Aww, thanks! ^^;;



    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    Yyyyyyes... I think so. Interesting point.

    Maybe I'd say "more useful" rather than "more skilful", but... now I think about it... aren't those two things the same...? To be "skilled at living" is to draw on the things that are "useful"...? Hmm...

    I know some of the basics of Western philosophy, but I know nothing of Eastern or Buddhist philosophy. Always good to hear things from another point-of-view. :-)
    I'd say "more useful" works just as well here. ^_^ Describing an understanding of reality (or of anything) in terms of skillfulness implicitly recognizes that concepts and heuristics and mental models of all kinds are our own creations. Even when taught something, e.g. in school, the teacher cannot transmit their understanding directly to the student, but rather the student must build their own understanding by trial-and-error until it satisfies the teacher's criteria (e.g. on exams). And even then, the student's understanding should not be considered identical to the teacher's — they were constructed separately — but rather, compatible. The creation of these conceptual models, even the scientific and physically applicable ones, is an art and a craft in many ways. So describing them in terms of skill, or (for scientific models) in terms of utility, makes sense without requiring the presumption that any of it is "right". ^.^

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny
    *Shudder* Stop using the F-word! It gives me the willies!

    So you don't consider hope to be a part of faith... Interesting. Do others feel the same? Do we each take "faith" to mean slightly different things...? Very different things...?

    "Faith" for me is a very loaded word. It's not a word you hear very often in conversation, and when it crops up, it always related to either an untestable supernatural belief or blind optimism. It's just a word that sends my bullshit detector crazy.
    Yes, I'm guilty. I deliberately used a loaded word. But I'm not just trolling. I'm honestly trying to express (not prove) a philosophical position (belief) about human nature.



    You can't, from a position of ignorance, arbitrarily choose what reality is like based upon "personal preference". (Unless philosophical idealism is true, reality exists independently of what you choose to believe!)

    This is why the word "faith" makes me suspicious. Why have faith in something if you have no idea and have just picked the theory that "sounds nicest". That's not the way to seek the truth!
    It does seem counterintuitve to think that we "choose" our beliefs, or that beliefs are based on personal preference. After all, you either actually believe something or you don't believe it, and it doesn't seem like you have any choice in the matter.

    When I say "personal preference" I mean a combination of two major factors: personal experience and genetic makeup, both of which affect your emotional makeup, and I don't think you can deny that feelings influence beliefs. We all like to believe our strongly held beliefs are based on evidence and logic, but the key phrase here is "like to believe". It's an emotional factor. To say we pick theories that "sound nicest", IMHO, isn't too far from the truth. If something doesn't 'sound nice' we tend to be suspicious, meaning we are more likely to believe something else; something that sounds nicer.



    Could we not consider those "beliefs" as being merely tentative abstractions of one of many models of reality that a person might hold...?
    Yes, absolutely. I like the way you put it. I think most people would agree with this in spirit but, in practice, many people seem to hold what I consider tentative beliefs as proven fact. For example, I am sometimes asked if I believe in evolution as if evolution was some kind of precise, universally accepted theory instead of a complex mix of numerous, debatable theories.


    So, in my opinion, both particles and waves are epiphenomena that are somehow confusing us to the more fundamental workings of reality.
    I think, to ultimately determine the fundamental, physical reality of the universe, scientists will need to settle the wave/particle duality issue. Quantum field theory raises the possibility that particles don't actually exist, and what we call particles are, somehow, actually wave functions. I'm guessing that if the distinction is made it will determine the mathematics and approach to be used for further research.

    PS
    The thought occurs to me that scientific investigation is not the only way to explore reality, and may not even be the best.
    Last edited by Drifter; 1 Day Ago at 22:18. Reason: PS

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    So you don't consider hope to be a part of faith... Interesting. Do others feel the same? Do we each take "faith" to mean slightly different things...? Very different things...?
    {I think}
    I do not consider hope to be a part of faith... Faith is a certainty formed from a more persistent and/or more highly invested belief, that remains, as un-testable or, un-provable in it's expression yet; derives a form of ethereal-conclusion/satiety (of the beholder, alone) - that the belief it's-self, substantiates, irrespective, that it's otherwise, abstract. Some degree of indoctrination, seems to be common (if not required), to achieve, faith...

    I think that faith, may start with hope yet, true - entrenched faith, would have no place for hope...

    Is faith, an alternate-reality, an altered-reality or, an interpretive reality?

    Hope, is the various degrees of intention, desire, want or, need with, little to no strategy/effort applied - without any dependency on belief or, concrete proof or probability... The difference of hope and, wishing, might be that wishing may be a form of superstitious/ethereal/magical-hope...

    [...]



    [...] My knowledge on all matters is best summed up with "jack of all trades; master of none" [...]
    I prefer to name that as a "Generalist" - it side steps the absolutes of all or, none and, along with it's succinctness; doesn't tend to suggest any self-deprecation or, exaggeration...

    Way too tired yet, interested,
    -Marka

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    Yes, I'm guilty. I deliberately used a loaded word. But I'm not just trolling. I'm honestly trying to express (not prove) a philosophical position (belief) about human nature.
    Ha ha! Well, that's psychology, I guess. Human nature means that we can fall foul of cognitive biases. Is that what you mean? Does "faith" require an element of bias (of falsehood?) by definition...?



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    It does seem counterintuitive to think that we "choose" our beliefs, or that beliefs are based on personal preference. After all, you either actually believe something or you don't believe it, and it doesn't seem like you have any choice in the matter.

    When I say "personal preference" I mean a combination of two major factors: personal experience and genetic makeup, both of which affect your emotional makeup, and I don't think you can deny that feelings influence beliefs. We all like to believe our strongly held beliefs are based on evidence and logic, but the key phrase here is "like to believe". It's an emotional factor.
    I wouldn't call that "personal preference". That phrase seems to imply a cognitive, rational choice, rather than a disposition to form particular irrational beliefs.

    I know what you mean, though. We all "like to believe" (especially at this time of year -- I hope you've been a good boy!)

    So (again) maybe it's just a matter of language and semantics and we're in more-or-less complete agreement? :-)



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    To say we pick theories that "sound nicest", IMHO, isn't too far from the truth. If something doesn't 'sound nice' we tend to be suspicious, meaning we are more likely to believe something else; something that sounds nicer.
    I don't know -- I think people are more instinctively likely to adopt theories that "sound horrible"!

    In the "sabre toothed tiger" example, it makes sense to be scared of the dark, or to jump and run from a harmless animal just to be on the safe side. A belief in witches (and all sorts of other malevolent supernatural forces) was prevalent in many cultures. And today, people adopt racist views rather than choose to believe "something that sounds nicer", even when the belief is inconsistent with their experience.

    There are nice/optimistic beliefs, but I think fearful ones are much more common!



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    Yes, absolutely. I like the way you put it. I think most people would agree with this in spirit but, in practice, many people seem to hold what I consider tentative beliefs as proven fact.
    Yeaahh... Annoying isn't it? That's why philosophy and critical thinking should be better taught in schools. :-/



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    For example, I am sometimes asked if I believe in evolution as if evolution was some kind of precise, universally accepted theory instead of a complex mix of numerous, debatable theories.
    I suppose "evolution" is a catch-all for all of the evolutionary theories. I'd say I believe in evolution. (I'd have more problems with the word "believe"!)



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    I think, to ultimately determine the fundamental, physical reality of the universe, scientists will need to settle the wave/particle duality issue. Quantum field theory raises the possibility that particles don't actually exist, and what we call particles are, somehow, actually wave functions. I'm guessing that if the distinction is made it will determine the mathematics and approach to be used for further research.
    Err... I'm so rusty! But I think... well...

    When you get to this point in metaphysics, and reality seems to behave so unexpectedly paradoxically... you have to ask the question... What do we really mean by "exists"?

    We can only "know" reality indirectly through our conceptual models. So what does it mean for a sub-atomic particle to "exist", when it is defined by a probability density function? Does it exist in all spacetime locations with varying probability?

    This is the question that led Richard Feynman to consider the possibility that there is only one electron in the universe. It's quite a coincidence that all electrons seem to have exactly the same mass, after all.

    Quantum field theory (QFT) says that the metaphysical substance of reality is a "field", and that particles are an epiphenomenon. So... is the field the "ultimate reality" or is there something behind that...?

    And what about the nature of time? If spacetime is relative, there isn't any such thing as "now", objectively speaking. So... does that mean that all times exist equally ("block time")...? Why does the present feel more real that the past or future, if that's the case? And if not, how do you resolve the paradox of there being an objective time in which two events are simultaneous for one person and not for another? Is there some strange spacetimefield with a topology that makes this possible?! (Sheesh! Don't ask me!)



    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    The thought occurs to me that scientific investigation is not the only way to explore reality, and may not even be the best.
    Science is the study of reality. How else can we explore reality other than by studying it?

  8. #28

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    Is that what you mean? Does "faith" require an element of bias (of falsehood?) by definition...?
    No. At least not any more than "truth" or "knowledge" require an element of bias or falsehood. As a human being I cannot escape the personal bias that colors everything I believe to be true on some scientific level.

    The book I just started reading on quantum field theory mentions faith several times in the sense I'm trying to use it here. Regarding Hilbert algebra, the author says that that is beyond the scope of the book, and then goes on to say "... so you'll have to take this on faith. You can understand the results without understanding the mathematics that leads to them".

    The reality is that a practical element of faith is required for meaningful discussion of any scientific topic. Without faith in the scientific community and the scientific method we may as well be immersed in a deep conversation about the flying spaghetti monster.



    So (again) maybe it's just a matter of language and semantics and we're in more-or-less complete agreement? :-)
    Probably.


    There are nice/optimistic beliefs, but I think fearful ones are much more common!
    I think we are going down the wrong track here, and it's my fault for continuing to use the word "nice" that came up in our discussion. I think the operative word should be "agreeable" in the sense that we are inclined to believe things that agree with our feelings, perceptions and experiences. If a saber tooth tiger charges us the most agreeable option for us would be to run.

    The same is true if a black bear charges us, but some of us would feel a conflict here. Part of my experience includes learning black bear behavior from the "experts" that indicates running is not the best option because these bears often do fake charges to make the target run. A running target triggers a chase-catch-kill response in the bear. If I was ever in that situation I don't know if I would follow my instinct or my faith in the experts, but my belief is the experts are probably right. I believe that because I saw a presentation that seemed sensible to me.

    Ever notice how "sensible" appears to have it's roots in "feelings"?


    I suppose "evolution" is a catch-all for all of the evolutionary theories. I'd say I believe in evolution. (I'd have more problems with the word "believe"!)
    And what problem would that be?

    I have no problem at all believing species evolve. In my experience I have not known anything in my physical environment that does not evolve.


    We can only "know" reality indirectly through our conceptual models.
    Fascinating statement! Let me play with it to see if I understand your meaning.

    We can only "know" reality through our conceptual models, but it would be indirect knowledge ?

    or

    Through our conceptual models we can only "know" reality indirectly, meaning, if direct (true?) knowledge is possible it would require bypassing our conceptual models ?


    This is the question that led Richard Feynman to consider the possibility that there is only one electron in the universe. It's quite a coincidence that all electrons seem to have exactly the same mass, after all.

    Quantum field theory (QFT) says that the metaphysical substance of reality is a "field", and that particles are an epiphenomenon. So... is the field the "ultimate reality" or is there something behind that...?

    And what about the nature of time? If spacetime is relative, there isn't any such thing as "now", objectively speaking. So... does that mean that all times exist equally ("block time")...? Why does the present feel more real that the past or future, if that's the case? And if not, how do you resolve the paradox of there being an objective time in which two events are simultaneous for one person and not for another? Is there some strange spacetimefield with a topology that makes this possible?! (Sheesh! Don't ask me!)
    One thing that appeals to me about QFT is that it doesn't require some magical blending of space and time. We can continue with our intuitive sense that space and time are separate phenomena that simply interact with each other. In QFT gravity is a field (a property of space, whatever that means).

    On a practical level time is very simple to understand. Time to eat; time to shit; time to go to bed; time to wake up.

    I agree with you on the frustration involved in trying to understand time philosophically. I think the best we can hope for in that regard is to settle for any belief that makes us think we understand time philosophically, even though we don't. That way we can stop wasting time thinking about it or trying to put it in words. See the benefit in choosing "nice" beliefs?


    Science is the study of reality. How else can we explore reality other than by studying it?
    Science is wonderful. Thanks to science I can kill time watching TV while time kills me. But I feel something is missing. I think, in some way, this feeling is one of the definitions of "faith".

    Do you intuitively feel, as I do, that no matter what answer 'science' ultimately arrives at it, it won't be satisfactory? ... it won't answer the inexpressible question felt deep inside?

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