I would like to start a forum reference to the difference between fact and belief. I have heard several arguments wherein a fact is subject to interpretation. Would anyone care to elaborate? I think this is key when discussing deities as the origin of life.

 

My contention is that facts are facts, these are facts that we apply to our observations as constants. Such as in Newtonian physics, it is a fact that if a person drops a ball one million times, it will hit the floor a million times. Without variables of course. This is a fact. How could this be subject to interpretation rendering this a belief, or opinion? I contend it is not, but I would love to hear any insight as to this subject.

 

Thank You

 

Nano

Tags: Facts, and, belief, beliefs, between, differences, fact

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Perhaps, but later observations can be construed as urther confirmation.

Gravity isn't a real thing, gravity is a human concept made up in an effort to explain observations and potentially predict future observations.

Everything is real when put into the proper category. For example, unicorns are real in the mythological beings category (right in there along with God). Gravity is real in the category of physical forces.

@Bob:

Maybe this guy can explain the scientific method to you, personally I find him to be a very capable at explaining complicated ideas.

I think you will find Facts are a very rare thing. Facts accurately describe physical phenomena and have predictive capabilities because of that. Beliefs are just what people believe... you can believe a fact, or you can believe random gibberish.

 

e.g. you believe that if you drop a ball, it will hit the ground. You believe this because there is a model( pretty much as close as we can get to a fact) which describes the operation of gravity and has predictive capabilities in regards to gravity. Someone else might believe that if they drop the ball, it will explode and destroy the universe. They do not have a fact to back up their belief.

 

I hope that helps a bit... this is all just my understanding of course.

"Beliefs are just what people believe... you can believe a fact, or you can believe random gibberish."

 

This is where I would like to discern the difference between fact and belief. I didnt think it necessary to believe in a fact, much like the existence of a tree, it does not require human belief to exist. Those who cannot back up a belief, remain stagnant in opinion and the human mind can elicit plenty of opinions, rarely a fact.

 

Thanks for replying .. let me know what you think.

 

Nano

I think the dichotomy is probably a false one.   If we proceed from a more scientific basis, rather than imagining some hard-line distinction between facts and beliefs, we should probably think more in terms of things that we know more or less well.

What you seem to be trying to describe as "facts" are observations or measurements.  Stuff like "What is the speed of light in a vacuum?".  Of course, we have many observations, direct and indirect, of c.  Not all of them agree.  The value for that "fact" has actually changed over time, and like most scientific observations the error bar estimates along the way have been too small.  We tend to systemically overestimate the reliability of our observations.  Put another way, we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that our "facts" are stronger than they actually are.

What you seem to be trying to describe as "beliefs" are what I might term "theories" - speculations that attempt to describe the causes and mechanisms behind observations.  What gets complex is that so often the theory leads to (only) certain types of observations; if we are pursuing cosmic string theory, we are making some kinds of observations and not others, and are perhaps badly misinterpreting observations by applying a framework that is inherently flawed.  Look at how long our view was of aether being "fact".   We look for what we expect to find.

Equally important is the distinction between knowledge and certainty. Certainty is a sensation or mental state which is frequently mistaken for knowledge and is more or less accepted as the same thing as proof.

The problem is words. People try to treat words as mathematical formulas. EVERY word (don’t waste time contesting this proposition – just give it to me) has multiple meanings. So when one person says, “a ‘fact’ is <blah>”, another can come along and say, “no a ‘fact’ is <blorg>” (or "belief" or "theory" or "truth" or "opinion" any other relevant word), and you immediately reach an inability to communicate (accurately) and a logical impasse.

Scientific method can approximate or approach accurate communication by first defining the axioms used, but, of course, words must be used in the definitions and the circle continues.

Philosophers and other religious practitioners love this. They try to confuse the dialog (the more esoteric and imprecise they can make any communications regarding the supernatural the better they like it).

I stumbled across a Youtube debate called “William Lane Craig utterly destroys Christopher Hitchens”. Here’s the kind of total NONSENSE religious people will proffer in order to obfuscate the discussion:

Why Atheism is nonsense:

They’re confused about the definition of Atheism.

It’s easy:

A=”no”

Theos=”god”

Ergo

a-theos=”no god”

hense

atheism = “belief in no god”

Fake atheists have been trying to redefine atheism to mean “a lack of belief in God.”

Scholarly dictionaries prove them wrong…

<followed by a careful selection of extracts from various dictionaries>

 

Who CARES what definition 6 in your dictionary says. Language is there to allow the communication of ideas from one mind to another which, by its very nature MUST be imprecise. And dictionaries exist to report current usage of words - not dictate it. Dictionaries PROVE nothing.

In my opinion Hitchens actually did lose that debate by falling for obfuscation like the above. (I've heard that, before this debate, Hitch had just gotten news of his demise -  no attribution I’m willing to share).

The point is – There Is No God. You believe otherwise? Prove it. If you do, I'll believe it too because it will be a fact. And, while you’re attempting to prove God, I will allow virtually NONE of your ridiculous assumption, axioms, or syllogisms . PROVE it mathematically and scientifically. Everything else is WORD GAMES and, like all other activities designed to waste time, are of NO value except as entertainment.

Philosophers and other religious practitioners love this. They try to confuse the dialog (the more esoteric and imprecise they can make any communications regarding the supernatural the better they like it).

Mike, even for you that is horseshit.

Philosophers try to discover the truth, and being precise in their language is one of the tools in their kit. If you are saying they go out there intending to confuse, then you are saying that every philosopher from the pre-socratics John Rawls are just con men. 

I'm not buyin'.

And what do you mean by "philosophers and other religious practitioners"? Most philosophers nowadays are atheist.

It kinda depends on what the definition of "is" is.

As one of our great philosophers once said.

"It kinda depends on what the definition of "is" is."

Good one, Physeter.

"Philosophers try to discover the truth, and being precise in their language is one of the tools in their kit"

And then of course they have to define "truth" and "language" and "precise". In the realm of philosophy vs real science, the term "Precise language" is an oxymoron.

Philosophers are extinct - and rightly so (excepting, perhaps, people who enjoy that particular genre of word games).

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