Let me make this simple if I can:

I am not a scientist.  I read a lot of science.  I don't understand all of it completely but I believe it is true and rational.  I have seen things on TA that have given me greater understanding and make me feel that being an atheist is right. 


However, people say the same thing about religious writting also.  They don't understand, but believe it is true as it is written by authorities they believe in.


I am not going to change my mind, but I would be interested if some the the extremely interesting and intelligent people here would answer this:


If I have faith in science and scientists to reveal knowledge to me, how is that different from believers in religious writting who have faith in their sources of knowledge?



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These are the kind of arguements I need.  I am a librarian and when I don't know something I look it up.  Every librarian knows that some sources for knowledge are good some cannot be relied upon. 


There is more information available than ever so you have to be really careful which sources of knowledge you use.  The Mayo Clinic is a much better source for medical information than one that promotes it's own holistic medicine for example.  The holistic source may be of value for those interested in that subject but is unlikely to give accurate information on your heart valve surgery. 


I would reccomend Steven Hawking over the Bible or Aristotle for cosmology for instance. 

Whether you do science or not, Science is NOT just thought.

It is a method of testing, measuring, observing, hypothesizing, calculating, guessing, rechecking methods and results, making testable explanations about the natural world- recheck-repeat as needed...


Basically it's the human ape picking apart and putting back together the "stuff" of the world to see how it works.


I don't think science deals in "truth" so much as probabilities. Something "known" to be 99.999999...%, we could call a "fact" or "law", but there is always the possibility that NEW evidence could overturn, maybe correct or advance our understanding.


Scientific theories are subject to falsification (proven untrue or incomplete). No matter how well established and elegant the theory is, if it no longer fits and cannot accommodate the data, it's out.


A beautiful theory cam be destroyed by one ugly fact


This is very hard to do as we have accumulated so much knowledge of the world/universe that any new theories need to encompass and/or explain what we "know" already.


Science is a continuous feedback loop of growing knowledge, building on the hard won knowledge of before.  It is not a "belief" or something to have "faith" in. Science, like atheism, is NOT a religion.


Religion and religious writing has NO testing of anything, no basis in the "real" world at all. That's why it's called faith! No evidence...just Believe. No growing body of testable, measurable anything. They just "know".


Sources of Knowledge? Religious authority? From where do they get this authority? Where is the published data, and ANY evidence for these claims that are made?


"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" - Carl Sagan


Does wearing a silly hat or collar and eating certain foods on certain days give you authority? Does quoting a bible or any other mythology give you authority? Authority over what and whom? Based on who's interpretation of which version of which religious text?


Various man made magic based fairy tales Vs. a body of reasonable, testable, falsifiable, data that is open to change as new evidence becomes available.  It's so amazingly simple to see the difference.

Faith, like many words, has more than one meaning.  It can mean "belief without evidence" or it can mean "confidence".  Read these, especially the second one:





When a scientist makes a claim it is held up for scrutiny by his peers. It will not be taken as valid until it can be shown to be so by his peers. It can take years of testing and review before it will be accepted as mainstream “knowledge”.  Therefore your faith is based on the understanding that several qualified people over time have giving it validity.


If we apply the Scientific Method to religion it fails immediately. This is because there is no evidence to test. This time ones Faith must be “a leap of Faith” to accept something that cannot be tested as proven.


If someone tells me they have faith in god all they are doing is telling me what their perception is. It is what they claim to believe. Not once in 25 years of asking people from over a dozen different cults has one shown me a shred of evidence.


Religion is based on faith and accepted without proof.

Science is based on Reason and is only accepted with proof (lots of tested evidence).

I don't know if it's about "faith in the source of knowledge", i personally think it's about the knowledge its self!


I would ask: "Dear source, what knowledge are you giving me today?"

Then the source would reply: "I give you this something"

Me: "Ok, do you have any evidence to prove what you're giving me?"

Source(Religion): "It's in the bible/quran/torah."

Me: "Sorry, this is not evidence since the same book has so many false scientific information that has been proven. And that should be enough for me not to trust you, Mr. religious source!"



In a science source case:

Me: "Ok, do you have any evidence to prove what you're giving me?"

Source(Science): "Yes, evidence is this and it works with the laws every time."  - And if a theory(knowledge) doesn't have proof then we wait(and don't consider fact) until they find one, and if it's proven wrong, science at least admits it. And eventually some scientist will find the right 'Knowledge'.


Their evidence and honesty in admitting false is what makes us(at least me) trust them. So they may have 'faith', but we have trust.

A simple way to think about this is by looking at the logical fallacy 'Appeal to Authority'. In religion, you accept that A is true, because a person considered holy says it is true, and because they are holy, their word is infallible.


In science, we make no such assumptions. We assume the speed of light is probably constant, because Einstein says so, and also, because we know that brilliant people have actually checked his work. You are not committing the appeal to authority fallacy when you defer to an actual expert in a given field. The fallacy occurs when you defer to the opinion of experts who are not actual authorities on the question at hand. Many excellent examples of the Appeal to Authority Fallacy can be found by looking at the 'scientists' who are sited as authorities in denying anthropogenic global warming, or promoting intelligent design.

When you get down to the brass-tacks of a belief with a religious person, they will almost always resort to telling you "You just HAVE TO believe!".

When you get down to the brass-tacks of a theory with a person of science, they will start again, explaining more clearly and concisely for you, they will even show you really cool stuff, some really good ones will inspire you and blow your mind far more than any religious person.

I think this is the difference between trust+replication and faith. We trust that scientists and people who have studied and become experts in their fields are doing rigorous scientific work. So if we dont understand the work (which happens fairly often) as lay people often simply accept the findings based on this trust. However, that trust does not preclude you or others working in the area and investigating their claims. This is why i always find it amusing when religious people argue that scientists are not trying to disprove evolution and thats why they haven't, disproving darwinian evolution would make your career!


Religion is different to this scientific approach. Religions says x is true and if you dont understand, believe it anyway and dont question it. This requires faith and faith requires a lack of curiosity and rationality.

Yes.  Trusting because of replication is called "inductive reasoning".




Theists believe because of what they feel, atheist believe because of what we know. Religion is faith based, largely leaning on blind faith and scripture. Science is discovery that can be tested again and again.

Here is an essay about "proper belief" that might answer.


From your words you seemed tilted toward "belief as attire" where you have become overly fond of people in lab coats.


There are people on this site that will (constantly, endlessly, pointlessly) bemoan use of the word "belief". Few on this site will go along with your use of "faith" as ANYTHING but a invitation to the supernatural or religion. As the author of the blog post above makes clear not ALL constructions of "belief" are compatible with a naturalistic world view. I am claiming here that SOME uses of "belief" pass the "Atheist Giggle Test". NO use of a word like "faith" leads to a reasoned position.



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