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Comment by Richard Francis on February 6, 2009 at 12:11pm
Hi Claudia,

What Einstein was talking about when he said that imagination was more important than knowledge is that you need to think outside the box to stretch beyond what we know at the moment.

That is the difference between faith and science. For science, imagination (hypothesis) is the starting point for learning the truth, and for faith, it is the end point.

A scientist will look at a phenomenon and 'imagine' how it could have happened. They will then test their hypothesis, redefine if necessary, have it independently tested and only then will they call it a fact (with a caveat that some measure of doubt is always healthy)

A religious person will look at a phenomenon and fabricate a story that vaguely fits...... and then they call it the absolute truth. "The only way"

This latter practise is an unhealthy, weak way of living and limits further understanding.

"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses"

Albert Einstein (from letter written on January 3, 1954)

Thanks for your thoughts.

All the best


p.s. Sorry Dr Meaden. I will paste this to the above discussion.
Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on February 6, 2009 at 11:35am
Dear Claudia
Thank you for writing again.
May I gently ask you to copy and paste your latest comment into the discussion called ORIGINS OF FAITH (see above). I am just trying to tidy up the discussion comments so that it is easier for everyone (especially visitors and new members) to find. Terry.
Comment by Marc Draco on February 6, 2009 at 9:09am
Done, Dr. Meaden. I hope we can continue this over there and that us "usual suspects" can bring our posts over there.

I brought (that thought experiment) up with a highly-skilled, agnostic and auto-didactic designer I work with; he thought about it for moment, went a little pale and then professed that his head was about to explode.
Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on February 6, 2009 at 8:48am
Marc, you may take the lead on this---on starting a discussion topic named "Origins of Faith"--- if you wish. In that case, try transferring a slightly modified version of what you wrote, and/or encourage the others to do the same.
Comment by Marc Draco on February 6, 2009 at 5:49am
Certainly an idea - we have slipped off topic somewhat. ;-)
Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on February 6, 2009 at 4:45am
Don, Marc Draco, Alex Donovan, Richard Thomas: You have all written very well indeed on what faith really means. Thank you.
Alex Donovan, your essay-like answer is brilliant.
I now wish that a named discussion topic--called, say, ORIGINS OF FAITH--had been running.
If anyone wants to start such a topic, and transfer comments or repeat comments there, please do so.
Comment by Richard Thomas on February 6, 2009 at 12:54am
Claudia M. Mazzucco writes
"This conception of Faith as the gift or ability to believe in something that is not provable is difficult to be understood by the atheist’s mind but it is sufficiently manifest in the large number of scientific theories which are based in quantum mechanic."

I have no problem if you wish to believe in something that is not provable. What is difficult for myself is to understand by what means you come to belive in something unprovable ine the first place. In other words precisely what convinced you of the existence for which there is no evidence in the first place?

And since I have read up on quantum mechanics I would be delighted to hear just what you find manifest in quantum mechanics that supports the item you have already declared to be unprovable.
Since quantum mechanics is a manifestation of the physical world and a measurable quantity it hardly qualifies as being "unprovable".

So please do present the arguements that quantum mechanics provides to your assertions.

"Faith is thought by Father Steven Pavignano, a Franciscan Friar, as “the highest level of trust.” Even as atheist we trust that somewhere there is the theory that could explain everything, that carries the secrets of the universe (and God) in a mathematical equation. This is an “Atheist Faith,” one part intuition and one part the sense of a necessary order in a chaotic world."

It is hardly a matter of trust that drives science toward a possible theoryy of everything since we do not know if such a thing actually exists. Perhaps we will be undone by the structure and laws of the universe itself and never come to a complete understanding.
For science this is no problem because it merely follows in trying to describe what it is that we do observe. We may well never know how it all works and be only able to make educated guesses.
However, science does eliminate possible scenarios with the acquisition of knowledge but science is never certain.
Only religions have the arrogance to claim to know things for which there is no evidence and, indeed, is the reason for faith in fist place.

"The fact that faith makes you believe in a “Man-who-knows-everything” (God) is, indeed, a by-product of this mental capability to know – not to believe – that which is not provable."

Ok exactly how do you know that which is not provable? f you know something it is a given that you must be able to demonstrate that knowledge in some way. If I say that I love my wife I cannot prove it to you in terms of my emotional feelings being directly felt by you,however, I can have you observe my wife and I interacting and thereby demonstrate to you that I do love her.{ Assuming of course that we agree on what love is by definition first}

So can you demonstrate the God that defines your faith as well?
Comment by Marc Draco on February 5, 2009 at 3:58pm
As though experiment, so would I, but this is the interesting psychology, we have pretty indisputable evidence that life evolved (and a lot of other "proofs") - yet millions still think Goddit; and worse, think we're wrong just as we do them.
Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on February 5, 2009 at 3:56pm
"clinching indisputable evidence of a god (any god) or even an afterlife, how many of us would refuse to see the evidence.>

Well, I for one would accept "clinching indisputable evidence" if it appeared. That is what scientists do.
But I am a strong-minded atheist because there has never been any sign of any evidence, let along "clinching indisputable evidence".
Comment by Marc Draco on February 5, 2009 at 3:31pm
Right on Don. I haven't read Harris on this but I agree that he sums faith up rather well. I'm having a fascinating debate with a "believer" over email and so far we've not had a cross word: which is amazing considering how these people often behave. I always think (and have even seen) that faith is a universal get out of jail free. I've a blog post on Gary Graham (of some Star Trek and JAG fame) is crying about abortion being murder and then admits to funding THREE! He's apparently got a conscience now but reading between the lines, it looks more like a failing actor trying for some adoration... which he's getting.

It's quite sickening to have such double-standards.

I can't imagine a theory of everything. Douglas Adams and I independently concurred on this but he put it rather better... I won't spoil this for everyone else though by explaining his view.

Psychologically though (in my book) I'm discussing the possibility that some people are genuinely unable to become atheists because years of programming won't let them.

This lady in my current email debate is a classic example - she just cannot see the arguments even when you spell them out for her. It's like she filters out everything that doesn't agree with what she's been told.

This is interesting, because I'd love to know if we're capable of doing the same thing.

For instance, if we suddenly got, clinching indisputable evidence of a god (any god) or even an afterlife, how many of us would refuse to see the evidence.

Of course, I'm being hypothetical, but it's an interesting thought experiment, don't you agree?

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