Monday, October 29, 2007

Faith in Science

From the American Heritage Dictionaries:

faith (fāth)
Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
A set of principles or beliefs.

Doesn't it seems like faith is the exact opposite of Science?

sci·ence (sī'əns)
The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.
Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.
Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.

Isn't it a wonder that both faith and science co-exist in modern society? Which one should I be trusting? Neither. The truth is, none of the two can survive without the other.  They say science is about experimenting, investigating, explaining a phenomena. How many of us ever really did experiment the theories of science thought to us? None of us can come close to reproducing all of the empirical experiments needed for a full understanding of modern science, and so it always boils down to trusting what other people say. Trusting. Having Faith.

This is a very fundamental flaw in the system, which only works since malicious papers (as far as I know) are not inserted into the literature like viruses.

There comes a stage when you start believing in what others (and the books) claim as facts. I don't know about you, but I started honestly believing that the earth wasn't flat even before I took my first cross country flight and experienced different time-zones. Re-inventing the wheel will only slow down your progress. You save a lot of time by building on known facts instead of verifying the truth in them. You don't verify Newton's laws before you start mission design for the next inter-planetary expedition.

Why, then, do we waste countless number of hours trying to verify (or disprove) the religious beliefs built on pillars of faith? Is it really necessary? If you believe in it, good for you. Carry on with your pursuit of knowledge (or enlightenment) using all the material you have. If you do not believe in it, why even bother? Consider it as a creative recreational activity for the society and let them be. Religion is a science that was proved, forgotten, 
and misunderstood over time.
Maybe in the year 2150 AD we will all be fighting holy wars over Classical and Quantum Physics. 

Napoleon Bonaparte'

I read this quote in someone's sig on a /. comment thread today:

"What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history ? A fable agreed upon."

The quote is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, 18th century military officer of the French revolution; and later Emperor of France, and King of Italy. A quick search revealed tons of other wonderful and memorable quotes from him. Some of my other favorites (unsourced) are listed below:
  1. A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.
  2. All men are equal before God: wisdom, talents, and virtue are the only difference between them.
  3. An army of sheep, led by a lion, is better than an army of lions, led by a sheep.
  4. The stupid speak of the past, the wise of the present, and fools of the future.
  5. Ability is nothing without opportunity.
  6. In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.
  7. He who is unmoved by tears has no heart.
  8. If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
  9. Six hours sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.
  10. The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.