Friday, January 28, 2011

The Subjective Ingredient in Faith and Science and Properly Basic Knowledge

I really like all the comments that are responses to my post from yesterday.

Thanks to all who chose to respond.

A recurring theme that rises in all the responses is the notion of subjectivity and this is fascinating to me.

One reason why I'm fascinated is because of how the responses use subjectivity as a faith justification to rationalize the faith and science divide but to me that choice seems to illustrate the faith and science divide even more (relative to examining and discerning what is real).

The responses offer illustration to how variable fact can be when subjective experience becomes evidence for a faith commitment.

Our ability to discern the meaning of our own experience is a poor data set to confirm a phenomenon.

For example, I wonder if the Reformed Epistemology of Alvin Plantiga would have its properly basic epistemic merit if he were to have been born in Thailand. Or, would that cultural context have made him a Theravada Buddhist rather than a Calvinist Christian?

Another way to put it would be to take the trust towards properly basic information and assess its usefulness against a geographic variable.

For example, none of the faith assertions thus far to the question I raised seem properly basic in the way elements of simple deductive arguments are. 2+2=4 is true in both a Reformed Calvinist and Theravada Buddhist tradition but the meaning of God's character and the impact this being (person, force?) has varies wildly depending on the cultural context in which the god concept resides.

In the face of the potential false positives rendered by subjective faith commitments I feel more humbled and confident deferring to the scientific method because it is designed to factor subjectivity in and mitigate against it.

And this is where I see the break between faith and science.

Science admits that our subjective experience is fraught with input error and creates a method to mitigate the probable mistakes this subjective interpretation might make while faith commitments in contrast don't seek to falsify a subjective experience but rather seek confirmation of the subjective experience with subjective experience to make its assertions credible.

This is not an argument against the usefulness of how faith can factor into one's personality (I think that is pretty evident because belief usually precedes behavior) but rather can a faith commitment tell us what is real or does it articulate a subjective experience towards what we wish to be real?

I think the way of knowing reality remains divided between faith and science.


LadyAtheist said...

For Unitarian Universalists 2 + 2 = well, that depends on who's counting

For Mormons 2 + 2 = not enough wimmin

For Creationists, 2 + 2 = 22

For UFOlogists 2 + 2 = 42

For Scientologists 2 + 2 = 2384792.19827

Chuck said...

LOL - Brilliant!