Re: Dawkins was right all along

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Mon Sep 24 2001 - 18:39:33 BST

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "Re: Dawkins was right all along"

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    Subject: Re: Dawkins was right all along
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    Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 19:39:33 +0200 (CEST)
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    > ... beliefs are tenets held _without evidence_.

    Hi Wade,

    Within the context of religions and other systems with
    a mere metaphysical basis I can understand that believing
    requires acceptance in absence of possible evidence.

    But what about science?
    I think, in science one has two ways to get
    to believing something.
     Firstly, one may start out having an empirical basis (experiment)
    on some physical phenomenon and sets up hypotheses (theory)
    reflecting beliefs on the assumed mechanisms governing the
    phenomenon at hand. Further testing aims at confirming
    one of the hypotheses and may falsify rivaling one(s).
    Belief in some hypothesis thus grows with favoring/confirming and
    mounting empirical evidence.

     Secondly, without experimental evidence (due to technological
    deficiency) one may take the liberty to formulate a theory a
    priori and then, based on that newly found theory,
    may set up tests aiming to confirm the thesis.
    This is prior belief in some hypothesis (brought about by the
    orinators's self-confidence or prior record of experience
    (or negatively: arrogance)). After evidence has been gained
    the belief in the theory should be adjusted correspondingly.

    Either way, belief is anything but sacred and rather shaky
    to the honest scientist and he should be willing to drop
    and revise his beliefs if experiment tells him so.
    Time and again, history has shown that theories and
    their beliefs come and go. Also, scientific beliefs usually
    find hard acceptance. Think of the rough ride the exotic
    theory of quantum mechanics had in `convincing' physicists
    of its inherent truth. Even some of the original creators,
    Planck & Einstein, were reluctant to accept its postulates and
    spent a good deal of their lives attempting to prove the
    incomplete character of its basis!


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