Posted: Nov 19, 2019 5:40 am
by Spearthrower
Scott Mayers wrote:Thus, my questioning of people who seem to trust that the Big Bang has superceded rationally over the Steady State. It feels like a cheat that needs explaining.

For me, I simply lack the ability to challenge it. I also lack the time to spend really delving into it... but mostly, the ability. And that's just for one topic; the thought of this being a requirement for all claims made in all fields seems fantastical. I'm a biologist; I never studied physics beyond G.C.S.E., I have the mathematical skills of a nematode (as has been established by empirical tests on this very forum), so this claim, like so many others, is simply not amenable to me validating or falsifying it.

But then, I still appreciate how scientific method works, and see it operate effectively in my own field rooting out and exposing problems with models as new data arises. I feel that trusting the scientific consensus is justified so long as one understands that scientific knowledge is always 'as best we can tell given the available evidence'; that people better equipped than me with strong motives to challenge orthodox claims have actually done the tests that could plausibly falsify an erroneously held position, and that the massive scientific endeavour occurring all the time comprised of hundreds of thousands of specialists all round the world should be routinely turning up obvious problems with models which are falsely held as being true.

Of course, there's always the old Kuhnian paradigmatic shift where the very ground of knowledge is a false premise, but we can't reasonably appeal to that in the absence of evidence which doesn't conform to our existing models but which would require a paradigmatic shift were it to exist. There should be a high bar to such an appeal, especially when consilience minimizes our uncertainty and current models are fertile.

So my answer to this, and it's a non-specialist response, is that the reason we can have 'faith' is because of scientific consensus, but no, this 'faith' is not anything like religious faith which is not based on empirical evidence and is not the product of scientific method.