Jump to content
Political Discussion Forums

Evidence and Religion


Recommended Posts

We were having an interesting discussion in chat the other day, surrounding the definition of words like proof, evidence, and religion.

There were two sides to the issue - one, taken up by 2/3 of our moderating staff, held that evidence and proof are not important factors in our every day life - that evidence is not required in most circumstances, and that we operate on faith.  It was also the position of one of the moderators that everyone is religious, whatever their belief in a deity and/or their holding of evidence free beliefs.

I disagree - first, I feel that proof is important to everything we do.  Part of their argument hinged on the example of the rising sun - that we all have faith that the sun will rise, but not evidence.  I, of course, see it completely differently.  As a person basing their decisions on evidence, I know that the sun doesn't in fact rise.  I know that the sun is currently shining on a different part of the world, and that the world is turning.  I can verify that with readily available evidence.

A second example had to do with crossing traffic.  I don't have faith that a car will stop or will stay stopped.  I used the best evidence available at the time (my senses - something you can't always trust, I'll grant you that) and proceed with caution once I am satisfied - I was told bad example, and I was never able to really get a satisfactory example to counter.

A third example hinged around trusting people in our daily lives.  One moderator argued that we trust people in our lives on faith.  Another member countered that we trust people only because that generally works.  I explained that I really trust no one, unless they give me reason to - I need evidence that I can trust them, as I know that most people can't be trusted.

 

What is your opinion - is evidence overrated?  Do we require evidence in our daily lives? Am I - a now faithless person who holds as few evidence free beliefs as possible, religious?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 161
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I don't.  I "created" my children too, just like you believe God did.  But I don't expect them to "worship" me - I expect them to grow up and be independent beings who don't need me to micromanage the

The Second Law of Thermodynamics   I can’t count the number of times that this law has been quoted to me by fundamentalists posing as engineering experts, most of whom couldn’t define thermo

Evolution doesn't say things happened purely "by accident".  It says that accidents introduce random variations and that successful variations are selected by natural processes. https://app.box.c

Oh deary me.

I want to spend a few hours crafting my answer to this.  Anyway, most people use the scientific method in their lives, if they acknowledge it or not.  The sun example:  Everyone generally has this hypothesis:  The sun will come up tomorrow.  Our perceived model of the sun is, thus, that is rises every day.  We test this hypothesis everyday:  Did it come up today?  Yes!  Good, put another in the observed column.   This constitutes a scientific theory.  "The sun rises every day"  This isn't actually belief as such, as our model relies on historical data.  We "expect" that it will rise because it always has risen.  We have proof that it has always risen, not belief.

Trust is exactly like the sun.  If the people around us are trustworthy, we assume people are trustworthy.  It becomes a theory:  "People are trustworthy!"  ...Until you hit a result of the experiment that falls into the negative category.  Suddenly you have to change your hypothesis, or reject it outright.

Crossing the street is the same.  You don't trust that the car will stop because you have seen proof that sometimes a car will not stop.  You cannot therefore have a reasonable thesis that "cars will always stop when they are supposed to"

So.

You rely on evidence as a basis for your decisions...not faith

Edited by Smeelious
Link to post
Share on other sites

A couple of random thoughts.

I don't think most of our opinions or decisions are make based on any supportable evidence.  Try to have discussion around questions like:

    -Should Canada buy the F35

   - Is it safe to leave your baby in the car while you run into the store

   - You should obey the speed limit

   -  Raising minimum wage is a good/bad thing?

You will get strongly developed opinions, and and decisions that are not based on any evidence whatsoever.  Where people do pull up evidence, it usually wasn't actually used to make the decision, but is looked for after the fact to justify the opinion or decision.  I think we live a huge amount of our life based on "faith", because there really is no other choice.  However I would argue that "faith" is not the same definition of "faith" used in a religious context.

The 2nd random thought is this:

  By definition, religion deals with the supernatural, which falls outside the realm of science, and for the most part outside the realm of factual evidence (though some claims of religion can be tested against facts).  In the case of religion, evidence aligns more closely with legal evidence than scientific evidence.  While facts play part, they will seldom be conclusive.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Just Me
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Smallc said:

What is your opinion - is evidence overrated?  Do we require evidence in our daily lives? Am I - a now faithless person who holds as few evidence free beliefs as possible, religious?

I think above all else we need skepticism and critical thinking in our daily lives - things that seem to be anathema to belief.

In addition to people having beliefs, beliefs often also have people in their grip and the desire to be believed can be very strong. If evidence is over and just as often underrated, it's probably due to the challenge that skepticism and critical thinking pose.

Edited by eyeball
Link to post
Share on other sites

The claim that "evidence is not important for daily life in most circumstances", is utterly ridiculous. Every single thing you do all day long is evidence based. When you step over something to avoid tripping on it, you are collecting evidence with your eyes... or with a walking stick if you are blind. You don't just have faith that you wont trip on stuff because you would fall flat on your face before long. 

Whether or not there is a creator deity, we are definitely built to base our actions on evidence. That's the entire purpose of all of your senses. You could pick up a glass of liquid and your sense of taste and smell will tell if you if its gasoline and not water. If you based that decision on faith you would drink the gasoline roughly 50% of the time.

Humans are evidence processing machines. We are doing it every second of every minute all day long. 400 billion bits of "evidence" reach your brain every second and it govern literally every thing we do and almost everything we believe.

Quote

Part of their argument hinged on the example of the rising sun - that we all have faith that the sun will rise, but not evidence.

This is an old proposition that is completely silly and has long been long debunked. We DO have evidence that the sun will rise. We know how fast the earth is spinning and we know exactly what moment it will peak above the horizon. 

Experience is also a kind of evidence... If you know the sun has risen for 10 thousand days in a row, you can know with almost complete certainty that it will rise again on any given day.

 

Quote

 

P[{sun rises tomorrow} | {it has risen k times previously}] = {\displaystyle {\frac {\int _{0}^{1}p^{k+1}dp}{\int _{0}^{1}p^{k}dp}}={\frac {k+1}{k+2}}}{\displaystyle {\frac {\int _{0}^{1}p^{k+1}dp}{\int _{0}^{1}p^{k}dp}}={\frac {k+1}{k+2}}}.

By this formula, if one has observed the sun rising 10000 times previously, the probability it rises the next day is {\displaystyle 10001/10002\approx 0.99990002}{\displaystyle 10001/10002\approx 0.99990002}. Expressed as a percentage, this is approximately a {\displaystyle 99.990002\%}{\displaystyle 99.990002\%} chance.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Smallc said:

We were having an interesting discussion in chat the other day, surrounding the definition of words like proof, evidence, and religion.

There were two sides to the issue - one, taken up by 2/3 of our moderating staff, held that evidence and proof are not important factors in our every day life - that evidence is not required in most circumstances, and that we operate on faith.  It was also the position of one of the moderators that everyone is religious, whatever their belief in a deity and/or their holding of evidence free beliefs.

I disagree - first, I feel that proof is important to everything we do.  Part of their argument hinged on the example of the rising sun - that we all have faith that the sun will rise, but not evidence.  I, of course, see it completely differently.  As a person basing their decisions on evidence, I know that the sun doesn't in fact rise.  I know that the sun is currently shining on a different part of the world, and that the world is turning.  I can verify that with readily available evidence.

A second example had to do with crossing traffic.  I don't have faith that a car will stop or will stay stopped.  I used the best evidence available at the time (my senses - something you can't always trust, I'll grant you that) and proceed with caution once I am satisfied - I was told bad example, and I was never able to really get a satisfactory example to counter.

A third example hinged around trusting people in our daily lives.  One moderator argued that we trust people in our lives on faith.  Another member countered that we trust people only because that generally works.  I explained that I really trust no one, unless they give me reason to - I need evidence that I can trust them, as I know that most people can't be trusted.

 

What is your opinion - is evidence overrated?  Do we require evidence in our daily lives? Am I - a now faithless person who holds as few evidence free beliefs as possible, religious?

Proof is certainly not important in the vast majority of decision that we make.  Most decisions are made within seconds.  Some "decisions" are in fact random impulses that we might later try to justify.

The existence of the advertising industry supports this point of view.

How about life's biggest decisions?

How would one use "evidence" to decide on weather or not to have a "life partner", if yes, what partner and weather or not to have kids?

Yes evidence is important, but yes it is overrated.

Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, eyeball said:

I think above all else we need skepticism and critical thinking in our daily lives.

Naaaaaah sounds like too much work. Lets just believe that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, carepov said:

Proof is certainly not important in the vast majority of decision that we make.  Most decisions are made within seconds.  Some "decisions" are in fact random impulses that we might later try to justify.

The existence of the advertising industry supports this point of view.

How would one use "evidence" to decide on weather or not to have a "life partner", if yes, what partner and weather or not to have kids?

Its not overrated, its way under rated. Way too many people make way to many decisions that are not evidence based. Its a blight on our race that has caused immeasurable misery and suffering.

Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, carepov said:

Proof is certainly not important in the vast majority of decision that we make.  Most decisions are made within seconds.  Some "decisions" are in fact random impulses that we might later try to justify.

The existence of the advertising industry supports this point of view.

How about life's biggest decisions?

How would one use "evidence" to decide on weather or not to have a "life partner", if yes, what partner and weather or not to have kids?

Yes evidence is important, but yes it is overrated.

Love is a bit different, I think.

31 minutes ago, dre said:

Its not overrated, its way under rated. Way too many people make way to many decisions that are not evidence based. Its a blight on our race that has caused immeasurable misery and suffering.

That's exactly it - some people aren't using evidence.  That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be and that they wouldn't be better off if they did use evidence.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, dre said:

Its not overrated, its way under rated. Way too many people make way to many decisions that are not evidence based. Its a blight on our race that has caused immeasurable misery and suffering.

OK let me clarify, I agree with you: in the vast majority of people conscious-evidence-based-decision-making is way under rated.

The way that the OP, is written: "proof is important in every thing we do" conscious-evidence-based-decision-making is over rated.  We need to recognize the limits of reason.

With respect to causing immeasurable misery and suffering, i'm not sure, perhaps you can explain.  I tend to thing that reason/lack of reason is amoral - unrelated to most misery and suffering.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, carepov said:

Is love a type of "faith"?  Certainly is is not reasonable?

Well, that depends on the person. You generally stay with someone because you have evidence that they make you happy/make your life better.  Some people don't use that though process, I'll admit that, but they're generally not better off in the absence of that process.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Smallc said:

Well, that depends on the person. You generally stay with someone because you have evidence that they make you happy/make your life better.  Some people don't use that though process, I'll admit that, but they're generally not better off in the absence of that process.

It's Pandora's box... how do you determine what makes you happy?  To what degree can you choose to be happy? What sort of evidence can you gather to determine the right person (if any) for you in 5, 10, 15, 30 years?

My point is that there are limits to the usefulness of reason/evidence.  Saying that one's life is guided uniquely by reason/evidence is unreasonable.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, carepov said:

Is love a type of "faith"?  Certainly is is not reasonable?

It has nothing to do with either faith or reason. Its an evolutionary hardwired emotion designed to make us stick our penis into a womens vagina. Its a naturally selected mutation.

Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, carepov said:

It's Pandora's box... how do you determine what makes you happy?  To what degree can you choose to be happy? What sort of evidence can you gather to determine the right person (if any) for you in 5, 10, 15, 30 years?

My point is that there are limits to the usefulness of reason/evidence.  Saying that one's life is guided uniquely by reason/evidence is unreasonable.

That has nothing to with faith though. There are LOTS of things that we do that have nothing to do with faith OR reason. We are animals that have genetic traits. Our brains are wired to produce these emotions and behavior and feelings.

Also you CAN assess potential mates in an empirical way. You need to use the hot/crazy matrix...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, dre said:

It has nothing to do with either faith or reason. Its an evolutionary hardwired emotion designed to make us stick our penis into a womens vagina. Its a naturally selected mutation.

Love is also a natural selection that means a mother/father stay after the offspring is born and will care for the offspring and feed them, protect them etc. Love means the male will also stay with the mother/kids to help protect, provide (traditionally speaking) and care for the ones he loves.  But then sometimes the sex instinct wins over and the male screws another female to spread the seed again.  Love also means the kids will care for the parents when they get older/sick.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing with religion is that until recently in history humans didn't have any answers to fundamental questions like "how did the earth and sun form?", "how did humans begin on earth", "where did all the animals come from" etc. and we still don't fully know answers like "what happens to our consciousnous when we die?"

The human mind is very curious and has a need to fill these questions with an answer.  So people in centuries/millenias past rationalize with the best answers they can come up with that 1. make sense with the info they have at the time and 2. is hopeful and is an outcome they would like to accept psychologically as true (as a survival mechanism). ie: people don't want to accept within their psyche that when their loved ones die they'll never see them again, so they rationalize that they have a soul that goes to heaven and they'll see them again one day.  So it's easier to accept wishful thinking than saying "well I don't have 100% verifiable evidence so I refuse to believe in an afterlife.  But now that humans are increasingly discovering through science the answers to many of the universe's mysteries, people are abandoning religion because it's less needed & no longer makes sense given the science.

Every single human being also lives by an internal moral system for which they use to process their decisions in the world. ie: What action would be right vs wrong in any given situation.  Religion takes most of the difficult philosophical work away and is a ready-made moral system that gives people a guide for how to live their life.  Following ie: "THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOURS WIFE" is much easier, quicker, and psychologically much less stressful than constantly wrestling with ethical questions of right vs wrong.  Even easier if your religious authorities create solutions for all the leftover ethical questions not addressed in your holy book of choice.  This can be a hard thing to let go, if you're being told that everything you've ever been taught was true is a lie.

So do people need evidence? Sometimes, only when it suits their interests.. Some people would rather be happy/content than accept evidence of the unfortunate contrary.  Critical thinking is hard work, and is completely conscious. Our beliefs hammered into us since we were little are often less conscious or unconscious.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I noticed that Michael Lewis's new book "The Undoing Project: a friendship that changed our minds" comes out tomorrow for Audible. 

A book about Tversky and Kahneman, two psychologist who have helped change how we think. 

If you want some answers to your questions I'd start here and work towards Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" and Richard Thaler's "Nudge" and "Misbehaving." 

These books demonstrate our inability to think about things: from rules of thumb to relying on our experience, from a "system 2" thinker to a "system 1 " thinker etc.  

The list of cognitive biases is too large to pretend that we can ever truly be fully rational. 

But understanding them will bring us closer to evidence based thinking so if you have to start somewhere I suggest the books above and a list of cognitive biases: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases 

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Smallc said:

We were having an interesting discussion in chat the other day, surrounding the definition of words like proof, evidence, and religion.

There were two sides to the issue - one, taken up by 2/3 of our moderating staff, held that evidence and proof are not important factors in our every day life - that evidence is not required in most circumstances, and that we operate on faith.  It was also the position of one of the moderators that everyone is religious, whatever their belief in a deity and/or their holding of evidence free beliefs.

I disagree - first, I feel that proof is important to everything we do.  Part of their argument hinged on the example of the rising sun - that we all have faith that the sun will rise, but not evidence.  I, of course, see it completely differently.  As a person basing their decisions on evidence, I know that the sun doesn't in fact rise.  I know that the sun is currently shining on a different part of the world, and that the world is turning.  I can verify that with readily available evidence.

 

I think first it's important to define the terms. 

Faith - belief without evidence.

Belief - the reasonable acceptance that something is true.

They are not the same thing.  If someone thinks they're the same thing, then the conversation will go nowhere.  Yes, there are dictionary definitions that equate the two, and I'm sure someone will point to that and say "a-ha!!"...   which is why the terms have to be defined.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have a another take on the "you have faith the sun will rise"  issue...  

I have historical data from the last several decades of my own life that the sun does indeed show up on the horizon every day.  So I have a belief that is strongly supported by actual evidence that the sun will "rise" tomorrow.  This is not faith.

(I was far enough north that this didn't happen once, but let's ignore that for now...  )

 

I don't have any beliefs that I know of that I take on faith (without evidence).  And the strength of my belief is apportioned to the evidence.  

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, dre said:

The claim that "evidence is not important for daily life in most circumstances", is utterly ridiculous.

We can thank the ludicrous phrase, "I have a right to my opinion," for this position. Sorry, but you don't have a right to your opinion, if that means I should respect any opinion just because you hold it. You have a right to ignore evidence and believe whatever you want. That is your right. You don't have a right to have an opinion that's not based on any facts or evidence to be respected or taken as a truth claim. You have a right to an opinion about whether you like vanilla or chocolate ice cream. That's your personal taste and as such is inarguable. But when you make claims about the world around you and those claims are not supported by evidence and facts, then no. I don't need to respect your opinion and your opinion should be criticized for the dross that it is. People don't see to understand that. They think criticism is censorship, which is asinine. Criticism is a fundamental aspect of free speech. You are entitled to defend your opinions. When you hold indefensible ones, then you should be re-evaluating your positions, not doubling down on them and shutting down criticism by saying, "I have a right to my opinion," or "agree to disagree."

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Smallc said:

Well, that depends on the person. You generally stay with someone because you have evidence that they make you happy/make your life better.  Some people don't use that though process, I'll admit that, but they're generally not better off in the absence of that process.

You certainly don't stay with someone if there's evidence of them cheating on you.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, The_Squid said:
I think first it's important to define the terms. 

 

Faith - belief without evidence.

 

Belief - the reasonable acceptance that something is true.

 

They are not the same thing.  If someone thinks they're the same thing, then the conversation will go nowhere.  Yes, there are dictionary definitions that equate the two, and I'm sure someone will point to that and say "a-ha!!"...   which is why the terms have to be defined.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have a another take on the "you have faith the sun will rise"  issue...  

 

I have historical data from the last several decades of my own life that the sun does indeed show up on the horizon every day.  So I have a belief that is strongly supported by actual evidence that the sun will "rise" tomorrow.  This is not faith.

(I was far enough north that this didn't happen once, but let's ignore that for now...  )

 

I don't have any beliefs that I know of that I take on faith (without evidence).  And the strength of my belief is apportioned to the evidence.  

Agreeing on the definitions is an important point, but what's the difference when we're talking about people who don't even agree on what a "fact" is or people who don't understand what a credible source is?

And the stupidest part is that there's no "agreement" to be had about facts. A fact is a fact whether you "agree" or not.

Edited by cybercoma
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/5/2016 at 0:01 PM, Smallc said:

I disagree - first, I feel that proof is important to everything we do.  Part of their argument hinged on the example of the rising sun - that we all have faith that the sun will rise, but not evidence.  I, of course, see it completely differently.  As a person basing their decisions on evidence, I know that the sun doesn't in fact rise.  I know that the sun is currently shining on a different part of the world, and that the world is turning.  I can verify that with readily available evidence.

 

We still use the terms sunrise and sunset....don't we?

The sun's always been there....would taking it for granted that it'll still be there tomorrow count as faith?

 

Edited by betsy
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Announcements




×
×
  • Create New...