WAYS OF KNOWINg: FAITH

This page is a work in progress...

 

CLASS ACTIVITY 

brainstorm faith as it relates to each area of knowledge; and daily life... leading to a Wittgensteinian approach.

Infinity questions/Platonic ideals questions

Meno's Paradox/Kierkegaaard

Links to Religious Knowledge Systems and Intuition as a Way of Knowing

SCIENTIFIC FUNDAMENTALISM

OCCAM'S RAZOR

PASCAL'S WAGER

JONESTOWN MASS SUICIDE

 

Scientific fundamentalism is the belief that the world is accessible to and ultimately controllable by human reason. This is a profoundly unscientific idea. It is neither provable nor refutable. Obviously it is a leap of faith to insist that human reason is capable of fully understanding the world. We seem to have some access to its workings, but it would be wildly premature to believe that the human brain is capable of comprehending all reality…

That scientific fundamentalism is dangerous should be evident to any serious thinker looking back on the 20th century. Fascism was an anti-Enlightenment creed, but its most lethal expression in Nazism was founded on science. Hitler’s Mein Kampf leaned on the biology of Ernst Haeckel, which, at the time, was perfectly respectable. Communism, an ideology that sprang directly from the scientific Enlightenment, was based on Marx’s conviction that a science of history had been discovered. The slaughter of the Jews, Stalin’s massacres and Mao’s deliberate starving of millions were all executed by people persuaded they were justified by scientific insights.

Of course, it might be said this was bad science. But that is no more of an excuse than saying the Spanish Inquisition was bad religion. In that case, people twisted benignly intended human value systems to evil ends. There is nothing whatsoever in science - and this should be shouted daily from the rooftops of every scientific institution - that makes it immune from such abuses.
— Bryan Appleyard: Blind Faith in Science. New Scientist: October 8, 2005
“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.”
— Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Pascal’s Wager and Occam's Razor

Pascals-wager-diagram.jpg
If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is....
...”God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. “No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all.”
Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.
William of Occam: Stained glass window While it has been claimed that Ockham's razor is not found in any of his writings,[15] one can cite statements such as Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate [Plurality must never be posited without necessity], which occurs in his theological work on the 'Sentences of Peter Lombard' (Quaestiones et decisiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi (ed. Lugd., 1495), i, dist. 27, qu. 2, K).

William of Occam: Stained glass window While it has been claimed that Ockham's razor is not found in any of his writings,[15] one can cite statements such as Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate [Plurality must never be posited without necessity], which occurs in his theological work on the 'Sentences of Peter Lombard' (Quaestiones et decisiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi (ed. Lugd., 1495), i, dist. 27, qu. 2, K).

The chanters are Mourides, members of Senegal’s most prominent Sufi order. They are celebrating the Grand Magal, the order’s annual festival which sees two-million jubilant devotees thronging the streets of the holy city of Touba, deep in the country’s dusty interior, in a three-day frenzy of feasting, worship and rapture. By MARK WESTON.

Wittgensteinian approach: needs resolution