Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Faith of a different sort

So having finals upon us should be no excuse to stop the advancement of scientific and philosophical thought on here. So when I wandered into town today to do a favour for my dad (30 min walk for me, 3 hour drive for him) I saw a stall with a sign talking about truth. I still have no idea what a truth is so I thought I would have a look at what truths they were talking about. It was a stall full of Jehovah’s witnesses and I was very nice and polite before you say anything! I always am to there face. Being nasty and telling them, ‘you are probably was wrong as you can be’ doesn’t help win them over to your cause! Richard Dawkins QED. But over our chat I mentioned I supported evolution and was an atheist. But they suggested trusting some of the gaps in evolution had an explanation needed faith. This is an interesting one. It doesn’t but it requires something. I know very little physics and geology. If someone was to question the age of the earth in front of me I would have to turn around I say ‘I don’t know how they worked it out and don’t understand the sciences behind it’ so is it faith in these people I have in other scientists? Probably. But is it bad or wrong for me. I think it is a different sort of faith. First of all it is not blind absolute trust. I know I can easily be wrong about many things (it doesn’t happen often enough though) and I know other can be.

We all need to have this kind of faith to get through life. We cannot know everything so we need to trust others or ‘the system’. Imagine a friend offers you a life in there car but you have never seen them drive before in your life. You don’t know if they are good or bad or will get you killed or not. But you get in anyway. Perhaps because you are so lazy you don’t care if you could die as long as it gets you there faster like me. Or because you have faith that having passed a driving test and having belief in there abilities means you can trust them. It is like knowing peer reviewing produces mostly good knowledge and the author is confident in the results even if you don’t understand the experiments or the maths used to analyse it. This evidence based faith is not a bad thing but needs use to take the results with a large pinch of results. It is not perfect. Sometimes someone who you think would be a good driver turns out not to be while taking a ‘fact’ at face value because you trust the scientist you get it from could mean you are wrong but sometimes we need to take these ‘leaps of faith’. Just know that is what you are doing when you do.

Agree or not?