Faith in religion versus faith in science, versus faith in yourself

In this week’s “Unscripted Chit-Chat” video, I chat with Josiah Jennings about opinions, evidence, science, faith and optimism. This chat was motivated by the many conversations we’ve had about the article “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion” by Patrick Stokes. It’s an article we both agree with, but it is a great jumping off point for asking some questions about the difference between trusting scientific data and having “faith” in religion, what it means to have “faith in science”, the fact that the word “believe” means different things depending on how people use it, and when it makes sense to “believe” in yourself or in an optimistic future.

Check it out, and click over to Youtube to leave me a comment: criticism, encouragement and suggestions are all welcome! Although I already know that my nose was shiny in this video, so you don’t have to tell me that. I need to powder or something.

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Since you bothered to come by my blog here, instead of just going to Youtube, you get some extras! For example, this screenshot of me making a goofy face at Josiah while we were setting up to record:

Greg Stevens - making a goofy face during the recording of a video

And, these are the four options I was considering when trying to decide what image to use as the thumbnail for the video:

Composite of video thumbnail options

So what do you think…. did I pick the right one?

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  1. Damien says:

    Believe and Science are different. You can believe in God, in the Pope, in Allah or in Zarathoustra but you can not believe in Science. It’s just anti-scientific ! The scientific think is based on experiences… French remembers Descartes ! The quantique mechanics is a good exemple. It was first a hypothesis (after II WW). Actually the physicians of the CERN (in Genova) confirm this hypothesis with the discovery of Highs’ Boson. That is Science. Not faith.

    The faith in Science exists. And it’s very perverse. It’s called scientism. Americans could remember Spirit Mouvement. Woody Allen in “magic in moon light” speaks about this period. The worst can be the Church of Scientology which is condamn for ” organised group fraud” by French or German tribunals. The impact of this sectarian groups (they are not churches in Europe) in the psychology of the ex-members is very deep.

    Both of you are atheists. Are you the best guys for criticize the Faith ? It’s a pity. I would know your opinions as gay.

    For my part, I’m gay and Christian. I’m very realistic (not optimistic, as Josiah JENNINGS) but I have absolutly no proves of my Faith. God gives us a big present : a brain. Let us use it !

    • Greg Stevens says:

      Thank you for your comment! I agree with most of what you say, except I will point out:

      “Believe and Science are different. You can believe in God, in the Pope, in Allah or in Zarathoustra but you can not believe in Science.”

      Here I think we are running into a linguistic problem. In these sentences you are using “belief” in a similar manner as “faith”. But in the philosophy of science, and science of mind, the word “belief” has a different meaning: it is simply a mental state.

      So for example, in philosophy of “knowledge” we say that to “know” something, three things must be true:

      1) you believe it
      2) it is true
      3) your believe is justified or evidence-based

      When all three of those are true, then you “know” something. In this usage of the word “belief”, the term is more general: you can have a religious belief that is “faith” and not based on evidence, or you can have evidence-based belief that is justified by evidence or reasoning. Both fall under the more general umbrella of the term “belief”.

      It is a very confusing thing, even just within discourse in America (where presumably everyone is familiar with the English language LOL), because many religious people ASSUME that “belief” means “faith” while many non-religious people ASSUME “belief” simply means “thinking something is true” without the additional connotation. It leads to a lot of unnecessary arguments and misunderstandings.

      • Damien says:

        There are any different senses between French and English ! My mother tongue is Molière’s language.

        Faith = Foi
        Belief = Croyance

        In fact in French belief = faith. But faith is more a religious word.
        And you add “know” ; savoir in French, “knowledge” ; connaissance in French. Savoir = science in my language. It’s the same latin roots (scio, scis, scerre). The knowledge and the science are equal… but not in English.

        In philosophy, we know firm only one thing : we don’t know (Socrates).

  2. Jennifer says:

    Well self-confidence is usually about very subjective things, isn’t it? I mean things like “I’m an attractive person” or “I’m worthwhile”…. these are things I think everyone SHOULD believe about themselves, and the whole idea that it makes sense to look at “evidence” for these things is dumb. After all, everyone is worthwhile to someone, and everyone is attractive to someone.

    • Greg Stevens says:

      Oh wow…. Self confidence about appearance and self worth isn’t even something we touched on…. Maybe we should have! Can it be damaging for someone to not consider evidence pertaining to their own attractiveness? That is almost an impossible question to ask, but I think if you can get past the indignation of people getting offended, it actually IS a scientifically legitimate question. Some people are more normatively attractive than others…. Does it matter if your view of yourself does or does not accept evidence about how normatively attractive you are?

      Interesting question… Filled with landlines! I don’t know the answer.

  3. Jay says:

    I think you should leave people alone and let them believe what they want to believe. That’s just my opinion.

    • Greg Stevens says:

      I don’t think anybody cares about beliefs that literally have no impact on anyone besides yourself. But when your beliefs affect me it becomes my business.

  4. Chris C says:

    There are some good points here and I’ve thought about a lot of this stuff before. I think people think religious beliefs are somehow protected and don’t need evidence but they should. Believing something just because you like it or it makes you feel better isn’t just illogical it can lead to terrible decisions that harm yourself and others.

    • Greg Stevens says:

      Well, I agree with that. I mean it’s a very fine line to walk, I suppose. Believing in something just because the idea appeals to you can lead to terrible decisions… but it doesn’t always have to. I guess it goes back to finding a middle ground, like what Josiah talks about as “hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”

  5. me says:

    LOL how do you look hot even when you make that face? haha