Friday, October 12, 2012

Superstition, Faith and Scientific Hypotheses

If we define superstition as "explanations of the unknown" and faith as "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" - then they are very similar in practical terms. Similarly, if we define scientific hypothesis as "the best guess prior to the discovery of conclusive evidence", we begin to see how vital a role belief in the unknown is - no matter what form it takes or words we use to describe it.

It's not "faith" (or even "doubt") that is the core issue; it's the approach we take to having faith or doubt that matters. It's our willingness to accept that we need "faith/superstition/hypothesis/etc" in order to grow and learn.

Do we try to understand whatever we can - and not disparage those who also are trying to understand whatever they can simply because they don't understand exactly as we understand (or even don't accept that of which we are convinced)? Do we leave ourselves open to modify our understanding? Do we accept that not all can be open to the same degree - and that there must exist a tension between total openness (and the risks it brings) and limited openness (and the security it provides)?
These are the questions, in my mind, that are the most critical - and they all point to the importance of accepting that we don't know all things and need to be open to further light and knowledge.

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