Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

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bluegreenearth
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Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #1

Post by bluegreenearth »

For example:
Hebrews 11:3

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
There are numerous verses following the one above that equally proclaim, "By faith," something is understood or known to be true. Therefore, in this context, "faith" is being encouraged for use as an epistemology. How does "faith" function to reliably distinguish true claims from false claims or does it fail in that regard? What would demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Christian community that "faith" is not a reliable tool for discovering what is true or false?

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

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Post by Realworldjack »

OnceConvinced wrote: Faith is definitely not a reliable method of determining truth. After all, faith leads you to all crazy beliefs. Just look at all the religions and cults out there all based on faith.

Every extreme Christian leader that ever existed, had absolute faith in Jesus and the bible and believed what they were doing was correct based on faith. Even Hitler had faith!

I was a person who had unwavering faith for the first 30 years of my life. I only started to question things in my mid to late 30s. I am now an ex-Christian. Now Christians will claim I was never a true Christian to begin with.

But what? I had faith! I had childlike faith back then, beleving the bible based on fatih Believing in Jessus by faith. But apparenlty I was led down the garden path and never into true Christianity (whatever that is).

So if many Christians are to be taken seriously then for me, faith was worthless. It didn't lead me to truth. It didn't lead me to a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Apparently I was kidding myself all my life. Close to 40 years of having faith. What a waste of time!

So why would anyone believe that faith was a worthwhile excercize?

I was a person who had unwavering faith for the first 30 years of my life. I only started to question things in my mid to late 30s. I am now an ex-Christian.
Is this to say that you went over 30 years of your life, and never used your mind to question what it was you were believing?

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #22

Post by OnceConvinced »

Realworldjack wrote:
OnceConvinced wrote: Faith is definitely not a reliable method of determining truth. After all, faith leads you to all crazy beliefs. Just look at all the religions and cults out there all based on faith.

Every extreme Christian leader that ever existed, had absolute faith in Jesus and the bible and believed what they were doing was correct based on faith. Even Hitler had faith!

I was a person who had unwavering faith for the first 30 years of my life. I only started to question things in my mid to late 30s. I am now an ex-Christian. Now Christians will claim I was never a true Christian to begin with.

But what? I had faith! I had childlike faith back then, beleving the bible based on fatih Believing in Jessus by faith. But apparenlty I was led down the garden path and never into true Christianity (whatever that is).

So if many Christians are to be taken seriously then for me, faith was worthless. It didn't lead me to truth. It didn't lead me to a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Apparently I was kidding myself all my life. Close to 40 years of having faith. What a waste of time!

So why would anyone believe that faith was a worthwhile excercize?

I was a person who had unwavering faith for the first 30 years of my life. I only started to question things in my mid to late 30s. I am now an ex-Christian.
Is this to say that you went over 30 years of your life, and never used your mind to question what it was you were believing?
I questioned things but it was only in the confines of the bible. ie if I considered something that was not supported by the bible it was immediately rejected.

From my experiences that's what most Christians do. If it doesn't line up with the bible, throw it out.

It wasn't until my thirties where I started to think more criticically and ask myself "Is the bible really correct here?"

Maybe this cartoon will illustrate what it was like for me as a Christian up until the point I started to think critically:

Image

Society and its morals evolve and will continue to evolve. The bible however remains the same and just requires more and more apologetics and claims of "metaphors" and "symbolism" to justify it.

Prayer is like rubbing an old bottle and hoping that a genie will pop out and grant you three wishes.

There is much about this world that is mind boggling and impressive, but I see no need whatsoever to put it down to magical super powered beings.


Check out my website: Recker's World of Fantasy

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

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Post by Realworldjack »

[Replying to post 22 by OnceConvinced]

Well, I guess I just can't relate here. I was brought up as a Christian. In fact, my dad was an ordained minister, which meant of course, we were at Church every time the doors were opened. I began to go to Church camp every summer from the time I was 4 years old, and at one point we were spending 3 weeks every summer at Church camp.

At any rate, when I became of age, (around the age of 18), I simply drifted away from Church, because I am not the type of person who can embrace something which has not convinced my mind.

Now that my mind is convinced, I do not confine my mind to the things contained in the Bible, but rather continue to consider other ideas, which is one of the reasons I enjoy this site so much, because it challenges me to actually think outside the Bible.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #24

Post by Tcg »

Realworldjack wrote: [Replying to post 22 by OnceConvinced]

Well, I guess I just can't relate here. I was brought up as a Christian. In fact, my dad was an ordained minister, which meant of course, we were at Church every time the doors were opened. I began to go to Church camp every summer from the time I was 4 years old, and at one point we were spending 3 weeks every summer at Church camp.

At any rate, when I became of age, (around the age of 18), I simply drifted away from Church, because I am not the type of person who can embrace something which has not convinced my mind.
Let's see, you were indoctrinated as a child, drifted away for some unspecified amount of time, and then returned to the indoctrination of your childhood and youth. There is nothing surprising here.
Now that my mind is convinced, I do not confine my mind to the things contained in the Bible, but rather continue to consider other ideas, which is one of the reasons I enjoy this site so much, because it challenges me to actually think outside the Bible.
You accept the Bible as the final authority, but occasionally consider and then reject other ideas because you hold to the Bible as the final authority. Nothing astounding here either.


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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #25

Post by Zzyzx »

.
Realworldjack wrote: Well, I guess I just can't relate here. I was brought up as a Christian. In fact, my dad was an ordained minister, which meant of course, we were at Church every time the doors were opened. I began to go to Church camp every summer from the time I was 4 years old, and at one point we were spending 3 weeks every summer at Church camp.
Jack, without being confrontational or argumentative –

If someone said that from earliest childhood they spent great amounts of time at meetings of a (let’s say terrorist organization) and spent weeks of every summer at its camps, could we rationally conclude that there was a high probability that the intent and results were indoctrination?

Indoctrinate defined as: to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc., especially to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/indoctrinate

or: to often repeat an idea or belief to someone in order to persuade them to accept it: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... doctrinate

or: The process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.
https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/indoctrination)
Realworldjack wrote: At any rate, when I became of age, (around the age of 18), I simply drifted away from Church, because I am not the type of person who can embrace something which has not convinced my mind.

Now that my mind is convinced,
What changed your mind?
Realworldjack wrote: I do not confine my mind to the things contained in the Bible, but rather continue to consider other ideas,
Would those ideas be ones that you (or others) constructed in your / their mind?

Have you constructed and/or adopted a personal version of religion? Do you still regard it as Christianity?
Realworldjack wrote: which is one of the reasons I enjoy this site so much, because it challenges me to actually think outside the Bible.
Likewise, I enjoy the Forum when it encourages people to think outside the Bible – and outside supernaturalism.
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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #26

Post by Realworldjack »

[Replying to post 24 by Tcg]
Let's see, you were indoctrinated as a child, drifted away for some unspecified amount of time, and then returned to the indoctrination of your childhood and youth. There is nothing surprising here.
Well, let us see just how wrong you are. I was brought up in the Church. At the age of 18 I simply drifted away from Church, because I had other things on my mind, and I was not convinced in my mind of Christianity in the least.

In my early 30s, when my kids began to get older, and my parents wanted to take them to Church, and to the youth camp, I came to realize that I would have to tell my kids something about Christianity, one way, or the other.

Since I am not the type of person to fake anything, I set out to see what I could find out about Christianity for myself. This process took several years, and to make a long story short, I did become convinced of Christianity, but in the process, I rejected outright, the Christianity I was exposed to as a child, so much so that I was not longer able to worship with my mom, dad, and many of my life long friends.

So then, as you can clearly see, I did not in any way at all, " return to the indoctrination of my childhood and youth". In fact, I outright rejected it!
You accept the Bible as the final authority, but occasionally consider and then reject other ideas because you hold to the Bible as the final authority.
No, that is not how my mind works at all. Because you see, I am able, can, have, and do allow my mind to consider the fact that the Bible could be flat out false, and I attempt to understand what all would have to be involved for the Bible to be flat out false.

In other words, I am not one of those Christians who is under the impression that I will be in danger of "hellfire" if I ever question the Bible. Rather, I am under the impression that we would all be better off, if more Christians did just that.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #27

Post by Realworldjack »

[Replying to post 25 by Zzyzx]
Jack, without being confrontational or argumentative –
Hey, it's fine, and this is what I expect, since this is a debate site.
If someone said that from earliest childhood they spent great amounts of time at meetings of a (let’s say terrorist organization) and spent weeks of every summer at its camps, could we rationally conclude that there was a high probability that the intent and results were indoctrination?
First, I think you may be, "comparing apples to oranges" here. In other words, I think we know that a "terrorist organization" would have the intent to indoctrinate those who may attend. However, this would not necessarily be the case with a summer Church camp. I am sure there are indeed summer youth Church camps where this may be the case, but this would not be the case with all such Christian youth camps.

As an example, the camp I attended all the years of my youth, we had one Bible class a day, which may have lasted 45 minutes, and a service each night. The rest of the time was team sports, swimming, and fun, and games at night. The point is, it was not like we would be in class all day where there were adults drilling doctrine in our heads, like would be done in a "terrorists organizations" camp.

At any rate, for the sake of argument, let us go with your idea that this would have been the intent of the youth camp I attended every summer of my youth. If this were indeed the case, then you would be correct to say, "this would be the intent". However, now we need to talk about the "results WERE indoctrination"?

Well, in my case, I do not see how this could hardly be the case. Because, as I have said, "when I became of age, I left the Church, and did not give it much thought at all". The only reason I began to give it any thought at all, in my early thirties, is because I knew my kids would be exposed to Christianity, because my parents would want to take them to Church, and to the same youth camp, and I did not want them to be exposed to something, that I had no idea would be true, nor could I defend, or refute. Therefore, I knew I had to be prepared to tell my children something about Christianity.

So, I begin to dig in and study, and I consumed a huge amount of material, both for, and opposed to Christianity. This process, took a number of years, and while I became convinced Christianity was indeed true, I also became just as convinced, that the theology I was exposed to as a child was a very reckless, and dangerous, theology, so much so, that I could no longer worship with my parents, nor many of my life long friends.

With this being the case, how could the results of my attendance at this camp be, "indoctrination", even if it would have been the, intent? In the same way, if one were to attend a "terrorist organizations" camp, where the intent would have been to indoctrinate, and there were some who attended who rejected what would have been taught, then we could not say the result was indoctrination, even if this was the intent. The point here of course is, it would be impossible to come to the conclusion that the result for me would have been, indoctrination, even if this would have been the intent.

I am not going to go through all the definitions you supply, but I would like to talk about at least one.
The process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.
I can say that this never happened in my case. In fact, I was taught, (or you may even say indoctrinated) to think critically about everything, and I can tell you, and my wife, and all my friends will attest to the fact that this "indoctrination" stuck very well, because they will all tell you that I do not believe much of anything, until, or unless, the evidence is overwhelming in my mind.
What changed your mind?
I can't say that my mind "changed" because as I said, I really did not give it much thought until my children began to get older. In other words, before this time, I would not be able to defend, nor refute Christianity, and did not care to do so.

I can tell you that I would not want to teach my children something I would not be convinced of, and could not defend, and I can also tell you that I have only taught my children what it is I believe, and why I believe it, and have in no way whatsoever insisted that they come to the same conclusions.

As a result, I have one child who has not darkened the door of a Church in years, and another who went off the Bible school straight out of high school, simply to study the Bible, before going off to college, who is married now, and he, and his wife are very active members of the Church they attend, along with an adult child with autism, who I imagine will never be able to go out own her own.
Would those ideas be ones that you (or others) constructed in your / their mind?
No! "those ideas" would be the ones I have been exposed to daily on this site, for the last 6 years.
Have you constructed and/or adopted a personal version of religion? Do you still regard it as Christianity?
It is funny you should ask this, because in the beginning I began to think I was on a limb all by myself, but have come to realize there are a lot of Christians, now, and down through the centuries who have come to the same conclusions I have.
Likewise, I enjoy the Forum when it encourages people to think outside the Bible – and outside supernaturalism.
The difference between us seems to be the fact that, I enjoy this site because of the benefits I receive, while you seem to enjoy it for what it may do for others. I guess we can say then, I am here for selfish reasons, while you are here for the benefit of others.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #28

Post by bluegreenearth »

Realworldjack wrote:
The bottom line here is the fact that we should not look to science to answer these sort of questions, because this is not what science does. So then, we should also not expect the methods of science to work so well when we are considering things which would not concern science.
If not science, what other method is sufficiently reliable for use in investigating these sorts of unfalsifiable claims?
Moreover, and again, this is why the scientists who came up with this idea, went on to acknowledge that, "there very well could be "unfalsifiable claims" which would be rational to believe, based on the facts, and evidence involved".

This is the end of the story, as far as your "unfalsifiable claims" argument, because it is very rational to believe things which may be "unfalsifiable" based on the facts, and evidence we have. However, your argument seems to be, we should all remain agnostic, no matter what the facts, and evidence points to.
So, "we should not look to science to answer these sorts of questions," but this is exactly what you seem to be doing by relying upon facts and evidence to suggest it is reasonable to believe an unfalsifiable claim is true. Facts and evidence are only useful in attempting to disprove falsifiable hypotheses. If you are attempting to "prove" an unfalsifiable claim with facts and evidence, then you are not doing science. Instead, what you are doing is submitting to confirmation bias. This is because, if the unfalsifiable claim happens to be false (which is an inescapable possibility), the only thing your facts and evidence has done is mislead you into believing a false claim is true. If the unfalsifiable claim happens to be true, then the facts and evidence would still only function to feed your confirmation bias rather than objectively demonstrate the validity of the unfalsifiable claim.
Moreover, and again, if you agree that I am correct in my description of what an "unfalsfiable claim" would be, then the resurrection would not fall into that category, because we can imagine what would in fact falsify the claim. An "unfalsifiable claim" would be one in which there would be no way to imagine anything at all, which would falsify the claim.
What could you imagine that would falsify the resurrection claim? Would you be convinced by the remains of someone named Jesus from the 1st century in Jerusalem buried with a note indicating the body belonged to someone who claimed to be the King of the Jews? This is doubtful because Christians could always argue that the body fragments are from one of the many failed Messiah impersonators that happened share the same common name as Jesus (Yeshua).

However, for the sake of argument, let's imagine a discovery of skeletal remains belonging to Jesus could somehow falsify the resurrection claim. If it is the case that the body of the Biblical Jesus is buried somewhere undiscovered, does our ignorance of the existence of this evidence justify the belief that Jesus was resurrected? No, absence of evidence is not evidence of a resurrection. In that hypothetical situation, it would be a mistake to believe a resurrection occurred because the evidence that we imagined would falsify the claim does exist but is not currently known to exist. Therefore, being able to imagine a way to falsify the extraordinary claim is not enough on its own to justify belief in the validity of the resurrection story.
How in the world would I "test" my belief that George Washington was a real historical figure, other than determining whether there would be facts, and evidence to support the claim? Do you believe George Washington would have been a real historical character? Or, do you remain agnostic about the matter? If you believe he was a real historical character, then what sort of test did you run in order to falsify the claim?
Remember, we must distinguish between historical claims which have an implicit empirical basis and extraordinary historical claims which do not have an implicit empirical basis. There is nothing relatively extraordinary about the claim that George Washington was a historical person. If you wanted to test your belief about George Washington being a historical person, then it should be reasonable and sufficient to simply investigate if the claim has an implicit empirical foundation. We have empirical evidence that other people exist, empirical evidence that George is a common name for other people, and empirical evidence that other people can become President of the United States. Therefore, the possibility that a person named George could have been President of the United States at some point in the past has an implicit empirical basis.

On the other hand, if the claim was that George Washing was a compassionate extra-terrestrial alien sent to Earth disguised as a human being in order become the 1st American President and influence our species towards a more democratic existence, then we will need to establish an implicit empirical bases upon which this extraordinary belief can be justified. Since there is currently no implicit empirical evidence of intelligent extra-terrestrial aliens visiting Earth disguised as human beings, we have no reason to presume George Washington could have been a visitor from outer space. Even if someone were to produce letters written by alleged eyewitnesses claiming to have observed the 1st American President step out of a flying saucer, the only implicit empirical basis we have is for the historicity of George Washington and not the story about him emerging from an alien space craft.

For the exact same reasons, it isn't unreasonable to believe there was a historical 1st century Jew named Jesus who was crucified. We know Jews were living in and around Jerusalem during the 1st century, many of them were named Jesus, and many Jews were crucified. This serves as a sufficient empirical foundation upon which we can assume the claim about a historical Jesus may be reasonably believed.

Meanwhile, we don't have any kind of implicit empirical basis to support the claim that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. We never observe dead people resurrecting unless they were not really dead to begin with. However, there is empirical evidence of religiously motivated people being emotionally and psychologically primed in such a way as to believe they have observed a dead friend or relative walking around where other non-religious people placed in the exact same situation did not observe anything supernatural at all. This observation serves as an implicit empirical basis for the claim that the resurrection story is more likely an embellished legend which developed from a less extravagant and non-supernatural historical event misperceived as miraculous by gullible and grieving religious zealots. This doesn't eliminate the possibility that God actually raised Jesus from the dead, but it makes the supernatural claim less believable than the one with an implicit empirical foundation.
You see, this is where your error occurs. It does not matter if it is "currently impossible" to conduct the test, which makes a claim, "unfalsifiable". Rather, what makes a claim "unfalsifiable" if there is no test, which would cause the claim to be falsified.

As an example that we have already considered, if I tell you we have the claims of the resurrection in the NT, and you do not have access to the NT, you would "currently" be unable to falsify the claim, but this would not make the claim, "unfalsifiable". So then, whether you have access to verify the claim or not, would have nothing to do with a claim being, "unfalsifiable". What makes a claim "unfalsifiable" is if there would be no way whatsoever, to verify the claim, and not having access to what may, or may not verify the claim, would have nothing to do with it.
If I did not have access to the evidence that would falsify the claim, then I wouldn't not be able to test it. If I cannot test the claim, I can neither falsify nor validate it. As such, I would not be justified in believing the NT does or does not describe the resurrection. For the same reason, belief in the resurrection claim on account of there being no reports of anyone finding the remains of Jesus anywhere is not justifiable. Absence of evidence is not evidence of a resurrection.

So then, the resurrection would not be an "unfalsifiable claim" but even if it were, this would not in any way mean that we should all remain agnostic, if there are facts, and evidence to support the claim.
If you don't like the term "unfalsifiable" then replace it with the word "untestable." It makes no difference to my point. Either way, seeking "evidence to support the claim" reveals you are submitting to confirmation bias. Facts and evidence are only useful for disproving hypotheses which can be tested. If there is no way to test an extraordinary claim that has no implicit empirical basis, the only thing facts and evidence does is feed your confirmation bias. If the untestable resurrection claim with no implicit empirical foundation happens to be false (which remains a legitimate possibility since it can't be tested), then it would be logically fallacious and unreasonable for you to seek out facts and evidence to support that false belief. If the untestable resurrection claim with no implicit empirical foundation happens to be true, we cannot demonstrate such an event is either possible or impossible since none of the facts and evidence you've offered function as a satisfactory implicit empirical foundation upon which a test for truth can be constructed.
You see, what you are doing here is to say, when the world was under the impression that the earth was stationary, and it was the sun which was moving, and if someone came along and said it was the sun which was stationary, and the earth which would be moving, that these folks would be making an "unfalsifiable claim" because there was no access at the time to determine the truth of the matter. This is not the purpose of the idea, and rather destroys the idea.
Once again, this seems to be more of a semantic discomfort for you than anything else. So, as previously suggested, substitute the word "untestable" for "unfalsifiable" if that helps you to acknowledge my point. Acknowledging an idea is currently untestable does not destroy it but encourages people to seek out an objective way to have the idea tested where possible.

Moreover, the claim of the resurrection would not fall into the category of an "unfalsifiable claim" and you even acknowledge this yourself when you say, "until Christianity is demonstrated to be true, or false". Because you see, this would be impossible for an "unfalsifiable claim" because an "unfalsifiable claim" is impossible to falsify.
My comment was rhetorical because there doesn't appear to be a way for us to acquire that sort of metaphysical knowledge.
The first thing I will point out here is, this is not a science project, and so, the rules of science do not apply in this case. Science should not even attempt to get involved in determining if the events recorded in the Bible actually occurred or not, because this would be out of the realm of science. All science can do in this case would be to explain to us, whether the claims would be scientifically possible. However, even if they declare the claim to be scientifically impossible, this would not mean the event did not occur. Rather, it simply means, science would not be able to explain the event.
How do we determine what rules should apply in this case if science is off the table? Why should those rules be universally accepted?
Next, there are many good, and solid facts, reasons, and evidence to support these claims, and I have given a good bit of the facts, reasons, and evidence. You have failed to give us the first reason to doubt the claims. So then, what is one to conclude in this case? In other words, there is every reason to believe the claim, but thus far, I have not heard one reason whatsoever from you where there may be any reason whatsoever to doubt the claims.
There you go... advertising your confirmation bias again. The reason to doubt an extraordinary supernatural claim is because it lacks an implicit empirical basis, and we have no way to test it. The reason we aren't as skeptical about more mundane historical claims is because most of them have an implicit empirical basis that can be tested. Once you've demonstrate the supernatural objectively exists, you can use it as an implicit empirical basis for the resurrection claim. Until then, the claim has no implicit empirical basis which can be tested.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #29

Post by Danmark »

bluegreenearth wrote: For example:
Hebrews 11:3

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
There are numerous verses following the one above that equally proclaim, "By faith," something is understood or known to be true. Therefore, in this context, "faith" is being encouraged for use as an epistemology. How does "faith" function to reliably distinguish true claims from false claims or does it fail in that regard? What would demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Christian community that "faith" is not a reliable tool for discovering what is true or false?
Excellent question! It should be self evident that 'faith' is no reliable guide at all. What is 'faith' other than 'belief' infused with religion?

People have had 'faith' in beliefs that are opposite to each other. Faith is a blind guide. Science; that is, systematic, objective observation is the opposite. 'Faith' is what led Abraham to attempt to murder his son. 'Faith' is what leads people of faith to murder each other for having the 'wrong' faith.

This is not a close question.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #30

Post by Aetixintro »

[Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

To this question, I recommend the following:
See Epistemology, Theory of knowledge and truth
- "Faith"/Belief
- Fact
- Justified True Belief (Tripartite after Plato)

See Conviction vis-a-vis "Faith"

See Scientific Method, the Hypothetico-Deductive Method (HDM)
- Experiment (or Way to Discovery, it took science to get the Hubble Telescope operating in space)
- Modus ponens and Modus tollens (logic)
- Observation
- Data

Good? :study: :D 8-)
I'm cool! :) - Stronger Religion every day! Also by "mathematical Religion", the eternal forms, God closing the door on corrupt humanity, possibly!

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