Saturday, July 20, 2013

More Faith vs Trust

I've written about this before, but it bears repeating because too often I've encountered bad arguments that conflate trust with faith in order to sow confusion.

 Faith and trust aren't the same thing. Yes, evidence based reason like science does require some trust, but that does not open the door for faith or justify a false equivocation between faith/trust and science/religion. Unlike faith, trust is always conditional and provisional; strengthened or weakened by the evidence. By way of example, I don't have faith that the sun will appear to rise tomorrow in the east. I trust that it will rise and that trust has been earned by countless examples and very well understood scientific explanations. Should I be presented with compelling reasons to change my expectation of the sun rising, then I will. See? Conditional, provisional, and evidence based. Not faith.

There are some basic assumptions about the universe utilized by science and they aren't faith either. These axioms are kept as few and as simple as possible: the universe exists and it can be understood. I provisionally accept those. Even if I am actually a program in a vast and unfathomably complex computer system, there is no reason to alter those starting axioms, as the universe is still apparent and can still be understood. Moreover there is no evidence whatsoever that those axioms are false or in violation of Occam's Razor, although adding unwarranted supernatural explanations would be.

Once we start adding the unnecessary, unfounded, or unsupported then there is no end to it. Without sticking with naturalism and science as much as possible, then any ludicrous idea is just as plausible as any other. In other words, if the Christian god then why not Zeus, why not Xenu, why not the Flying Spagetti Monster? No, no thank you to all of those. I'm content with evidence based reason. I'm content with a scientific mindset. I'm content to reserve my beliefs for those that are best supported -- adjusting those views as scientists expand human knowledge. I'm content to live this tiny, insignificant life; to love and learn and be compassionate; and then one day to die and cease to exist anymore.

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