Friday, January 07, 2005

What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?

The Edge, an online group of the world's intellectuals recently posted responses to their yearly question; captured in the title of this blog. I recommend perusing the multitude of answers, but especially Michael Shermer's response, the beginning of which is posted below.

"I believe, but cannot prove...that reality exists over and above human and social constructions of that reality. Science as a method, and naturalism as a philosophy, together form the best tool we have for understanding that reality. Because science is cumulative—that is, it builds on itself in a progressive fashion—we can strive to achieve an ever-greater understanding of reality. Our knowledge of nature remains provisional because we can never know if we have final Truth. Because science is a human activity and nature is complex and dynamic, fuzzy logic and fractional probabilities best describe both nature and the estimations of our approximation toward understanding that nature.

"There is no such thing as the paranormal and the supernatural; there is only the normal and the natural and mysteries we have yet to explain.

"What separates science from all other human activities is its belief in the provisional nature of all conclusions. In science, knowledge is fluid and certainty fleeting. That is the heart of its limitation. It is also its greatest strength..."


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