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Thread: An atheist's faith

  1. #1 An atheist's faith 
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    Okay well I have a question for all atheists regarding their "faith", as we know it most if not all atheists will tell you they have no faith, that they don't work in faith or something else along that nature. I would like to know how one can say such a thing and suggest otherwise.

    Mostly everything in Science revolves around numbers and mathematical formulas, my question is how do you know that mathematics is correct? For example how do you know that 1,2,3,4,5 (etc...) even mean anything? Mathematics, if I remember correctly was created by the Greeks, coincidentally a group of people you like to call nutters when it comes to their belief systems, so what makes their maths so sound as to believe in it? for example how do you know 2 apples are even 2 apples and not just an apple and another apple... there is nothing to suggest it's 2 other than mathematical language that was made up for it.

    You see to believe in this requires the exact same level of faith, there is no difference at all, you are believing in what someone has told you.

    Now you could say there is no discussion here, look at what science and maths has given us... there is no dispute in that however it originated in a time where mysticism was the norm and there was no scientific mindset as we know it today so where did the people obtain this information? secondly you can do anything to numbers producing a desired result, who's to say that something else has not manifest and at play here producing the results and progress for us?


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    Mathematics is absolute. It is truth, proven though and through beyond doubt. Science is different. Science relies more heavily on us being capable of revising it, making adjustments for new data and evidence. Science is falsifiable, and therefore not driven by dogma nor faith. Faith, in the religious sense, is different than Faith in a vernacular sense. Scientists have faith that they did their calculation's correctly, but they have no faith in some being presiding over them. The vernacular faith is more geared towards believing that what you did was right, that what someone else did was right, or that humans, in general, aren't always wrong. It makes no assumptions about a supreme being nor any other type of belief in that sense.

    Faith in religion predisposes that evidence, logic and reason are all irrelevant. Faith in a God is unfalsifiable and therefore nonscientific. Religion is a completely different critter than Mathematics and the Natural Sciences.


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    Mathematics is absolute. It is truth, proven though and through beyond doubt. Science is different. Science relies more heavily on us being capable of revising it, making adjustments for new data and evidence. Science is falsifiable, and therefore not driven by dogma nor faith. Faith, in the religious sense, is different than Faith in a vernacular sense. Scientists have faith that they did their calculation's correctly, but they have no faith in some being presiding over them. The vernacular faith is more geared towards believing that what you did was right, that what someone else did was right, or that humans, in general, aren't always wrong. It makes no assumptions about a supreme being nor any other type of belief in that sense.

    Faith in religion predisposes that evidence, logic and reason are all irrelevant. Faith in a God is unfalsifiable and therefore nonscientific. Religion is a completely different critter than Mathematics and the Natural Sciences.
    I talk about faith in the sense of thinking that what you believe is supposedly correct/true, there is no need to make things any harder here. You tell me maths is absolute and I would agree it is but it's a closed system that has most importantly been designed that way by humans, with the numbers 0 to 10, the opposing negatives and a few thought up arithmetic initiatives you can produce and achieve the desired results every time so it's only by design that this appears absolute but my question still stands how can that possibly show it's true? it's not a question of wither the maths adds up or not.

    No part of my last thread suggests a supreme being other than my opinion I gave at the end yet you jumped on this thread like I was some religious nut more or less basing your entire post on criticizing religion because with all the usual statements and providing some abstract definitions of faith. The questions I posted are simple and if you are not going to answer them correctly or just ignore what you want to then you should not be discussing the issue until you can look at it objectively.
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    That was an objective post, no where in there did I criticize religion. I outlined the difference between them and why, as you suggest, an atheist's faith is markedly different than a theists. Math is a language, it is true by necessity and observation. That's enough. It is not a construct of the human mind, but the human way of expressing the language of the universe.

    You accuse me of being bias yet you lay a true biased post on math. You say that (incorrectly, mind you) base ten with simple arithmetic makes math, when that is simply the most basic, fundamental and, in the case of base ten(0-9), unnecessary tool to the mathematician's tool box.

    You made a baseless and irreverent post. You attacked the basic fundamentals of math, and used that to assault the scientific mindset and claim it's the same as the religious. It's not. Faith in a physical construct is different than faith in the unknown. That's the point that seems to not get across to you.

    Oh, sorry for assuming that, posting in a religion section of a forum as you were, you had some idea of theology in your intent. I apologize for assuming that. However, my point stands. Faith in the unknown (supreme being) is different than faith in evidence that points towards a physical construct.

    The last paragraph of your post suggests, in entirety, a supreme or other wordly being bestowing knowledge upon man. I ask you, why is that necessary? Counting existed before the notion of any mysticism, really, as did basic arithmetic. Why is it even plausible to think the knowledge came from somewhere else?
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Arcane mathematician has given a very astute answer. Why did you ask the question if you did not want to hear rational response?


    Science is not about arriving at 'the truth' rather it is a methodology or journey towards greater knowledge. It builds on previous knowledge. Sometimes the previous knowledge is proved (through scientific methodology) to be incorrect.

    Re your inability to understand what mathematics is. It is not accepted 'on faith'. It is a logical process of proof. And it not confined to your"

    "a closed system that has most importantly been designed that way by humans, with the numbers 0 to 10, the opposing negatives and a few thought up arithmetic initiatives you can produce and achieve the desired results every time"

    I surely hope that is not the extent your level of mathematical understanding. Do you have even a miniscule understanding of how the computer functions that you are using?

    I will accept your word that you are not another pathetic Jesus freak who uses lies and deceit as a cover to promote of Christian mythology.
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    That was an objective post, no where in there did I criticize religion. I outlined the difference between them and why, as you suggest, an atheist's faith is markedly different than a theists. Math is a language, it is true by necessity and observation. That's enough. It is not a construct of the human mind, but the human way of expressing the language of the universe.

    You accuse me of being bias yet you lay a true biased post on math. You say that (incorrectly, mind you) base ten with simple arithmetic makes math, when that is simply the most basic, fundamental and, in the case of base ten(0-9), unnecessary tool to the mathematician's tool box.

    You made a baseless and irreverent post. You attacked the basic fundamentals of math, and used that to assault the scientific mindset and claim it's the same as the religious. It's not. Faith in a physical construct is different than faith in the unknown. That's the point that seems to not get across to you.

    Oh, sorry for assuming that, posting in a religion section of a forum as you were, you had some idea of theology in your intent. I apologize for assuming that. However, my point stands. Faith in the unknown (supreme being) is different than faith in evidence that points towards a physical construct.

    The last paragraph of your post suggests, in entirety, a supreme or other wordly being bestowing knowledge upon man. I ask you, why is that necessary? Counting existed before the notion of any mysticism, really, as did basic arithmetic. Why is it even plausible to think the knowledge came from somewhere else?
    I think Maths is true through observation only and based entirely on the structure of it's design, a necessity? (hmm) perhaps but only for humans, it's not a universal necessity as the universe does not perform mathematical arithmetic or even acknowledge basic math or does it? to say it does brings intelligence and all that into the discussion but that's a whole different matter, anyway! saying maths is a universal language is a bold statement but totally unfounded if I may say so, it's not something I would take as true based on faith you must provide evidence or at the very least an explanation as to why you think so.

    My bias in the last post was not based on the math we use but rather based on the mathematics of the time that was in question when maths was first introduced. I don't think I attacked the scientific mindset, I was merely suggesting that if the maths was indeed a non-issue then surely the scientific studies built around it would in turn be flawed as well.

    I understand the differences in faith but what makes maths a physical construct? seems non-physical more than anything.

    Well you are right perhaps this should have been posted elsewhere, I don't know though it seems to fit in this section more than any of the other places.

    Hmm I am not sure that basic arithmetic did exist before mysticism, if they were that intelligent then why wasn't the whole mysticism concept completely avoided?[/quote]
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    Wow... You have absolutely no education in mathematics, do you? Math has NOTHING to do with spirituality in the least! I seriously don't understand you're point on bringing up math. look up the golden ratio. notice that flowers only blossom their petals mostly in multiples of 2,3 and 5. There exist explicit ratios in ALL plant growth. for that matter, you can see exponential growth in Viruses and Bacteria. there is a decay in radioactive elements that follows an EXPLICIT patter, aptly named the half-life.

    You can learn some physics and notice that forces have intricate relationships based on geometric proportions. the same is true of elemental properties. Avogadro's number in relation to the mass of an amount of a specific compound or element in the quantity of Avogadro's number of particles/molecules. matter of fact, it has a name, it's called a mol of material. one mol of hydrogen has a mass of 1.01 grams. one mol of oxygen has a mass of 15.994 grams. All of this exists without humans, we just developed a language for it. It is not flawed. It is not fictitious. It is not a construct of humanity. It exists without intelligence, it only requires intelligence in order to be interpreted.

    Your idea that science is based on faith is baseless. I don't need to provide an example for the contrary; as it is your assertion, it is your responsibility to provide evidence, unless you'd like me to take your word on faith :wink:
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    Wow... You have absolutely no education in mathematics, do you? Math has NOTHING to do with spirituality in the least! I seriously don't understand you're point on bringing up math. look up the golden ratio. notice that flowers only blossom their petals mostly in multiples of 2,3 and 5. There exist explicit ratios in ALL plant growth. for that matter, you can see exponential growth in Viruses and Bacteria. there is a decay in radioactive elements that follows an EXPLICIT patter, aptly named the half-life.

    You can learn some physics and notice that forces have intricate relationships based on geometric proportions. the same is true of elemental properties. Avogadro's number in relation to the mass of an amount of a specific compound or element in the quantity of Avogadro's number of particles/molecules. matter of fact, it has a name, it's called a mol of material. one mol of hydrogen has a mass of 1.01 grams. one mol of oxygen has a mass of 15.994 grams. All of this exists without humans, we just developed a language for it. It is not flawed. It is not fictitious. It is not a construct of humanity. It exists without intelligence, it only requires intelligence in order to be interpreted.

    Your idea that science is based on faith is baseless. I don't need to provide an example for the contrary; as it is your assertion, it is your responsibility to provide evidence, unless you'd like me to take your word on faith
    Listen first off I don't appreciate any remarks against my education and besides that you know nothing of me. Your willingness in not acknowledging the points I am making has no relation to my education whatsoever... your obviously just not understanding my points or ignoring them completely without the properly due scrutiny they deserve, take your nose out of that big mathematics butt of yours and answer them I the way that is demanded, this is not a mathematical question.

    As mentioned before it's not about wither the maths adds up it's about wither the maths is real in the first place, I have never disputed that the math doesn't add up.

    You say you can measure things etc etc... but my point is exactly that the tools and methods we use are specifically created and programmed (designed) to function accordingly with the numbers and arithmetic we have made up, for example it's us who ultimately determine how much a gram actually weighs through our language and the programming of our scales... the numbers ONLY mean something to humans, saying they mean something to the universe (like you are) then automatically involves something of mathematical intelligence in this universe it's not me who proposes that, although I do think that is the case, the question I ask is how could that be? naturally born maths? lol I fail to see that as ever being possible... it's even more bizarre to think humans could comprehend maths from the universe without even having the language...

    You can throw all those mathematical terms like ratio, mass and geometry at me if you wish, but my again my point is exactly that these are human created assumptions of something and I am asking you for proof as to how you know they are correct, saying that it's because the maths makes sense and the tools are showing me so is like me saying the Bible is correct because I think it makes sense and it says so here within it's pages, you need to prove it... just avoiding the situation in arrogance doesn't ever answer any of these questions I have put to you.
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  10. #9 Re: An atheist's faith 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Okay well I have a question for all atheists regarding their "faith", as we know it most if not all atheists will tell you they have no faith
    Faith and believing is the weakminded giving themselves the illusion that what they think holds power or meaning.

    Truth is truth nomatter what people think. A mathematical example...

    1+1=2

    Even if a person WISH or WANT that 1+1=3 it doesent change the fact that the answer is 2.

    Being an atheist in my opinion is being a critic. The best philosophers critize everything including themself. Atheist people reject god simply because there is no proof.

    As for faith, why would you need faith in anyway - unless you are so weak and lonely you need its delusions to feel better?
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    1+1=2 because we have been taught that this is correct in maths, but how do you really know this is correct in reality? Where is the proof to suggest numbers are even relevant outside the human domain? thus it can only be considered our assumption of something, definitely not conclusive proof... this is what I am getting it.

    Is there something wrong here? are my questions really that difficult to comprehend?
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    Your questions are silly. Not difficult. As a matter of fact, they are pointless.

    Math is NOT made up by humans to fit this weird perception of the reality. Math is the reality. We made note of it and studied it. It's not because someone told us that 1+1=2, it's because that's what was observed.

    I'm sorry if you feel I've attacked you, but you're claims seem to be coming from either a very uneducated mind, or a VERY dogmatic mind. if this is not the case please enlighten me.

    The truth of the matter is, you ARE dragging math into it, and that IS your point. If it's not, you have a very poor way of making a point.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Where is the proof to suggest numbers are even relevant outside the human domain?
    The numerical patterns prevalent throughout ALL of the natural world, maybe? Humans didn't invent numbers, sir, we only discovered them.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Please just let someone else reply now, your not getting it...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Please just let someone else reply now, your not getting it...
    No, I'm sorry, but you aren't. 1+1=2 is just the truth. We developed the base ten number system, probably because we have ten fingers, but all the math would still work in other number systems. Sure, we have units and such, but those are necessary for usability. If one guy describes something the other guy has to know exactly what he is saying. Understand? Whenever maths is used to describe something, the units provide a way to objectively quantify those descriptions.

    So again, the numbers are in nature. We have just developed a way to consistently describe it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Please just let someone else reply now, your not getting it...
    No, you've failed to make a point that is coherent.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Arcane_Mathematician, impressed as I was with your earlier posts, attack this sentiment:

    Mathematics is ‘just’ a language. To describe things. Just like English.

    Granted that each language is biased towards its environment, but how is the language of ‘math’ superior to ‘English’?

    2+2 = 4 because we say if does. Like we say that dogs have four legs. That dogs have (mostly) four legs is no proof that ‘English’ is a superior language.

    Or is this topic in itself.
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    Okay. Math isn't just a language. Mathematics is the resultant language of Logic and Reason, and carries over to scientific principles where it is expanded. English can be used to describe mathematical processes, but those processes themselves don't occur in English. A better way to look at it, in terms of equivalence, is English is to math in the same way English is to physics. Arithmetic and the number system can be seen to correlate, per your point, to English and the alphabet, respectively, but as you get advanced in math you realize it's more than just a language; things in math must be done in a specific way to be logically consistent, and that's the key difference between a traditional language and Math. That's why I refer to it as the language of science, because it is rooted in logic, reason, and structure. Things that predate life.
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    No, I'm sorry, but you aren't. 1+1=2 is just the truth. We developed the base ten number system, probably because we have ten fingers, but all the math would still work in other number systems. Sure, we have units and such, but those are necessary for usability. If one guy describes something the other guy has to know exactly what he is saying. Understand? Whenever maths is used to describe something, the units provide a way to objectively quantify those descriptions.

    So again, the numbers are in nature. We have just developed a way to consistently describe it.
    1 + 1 = 2 is just the truth? How do you know that 1+1 is not just something and another something for example "2 balloons" as just a balloon and another balloon, what on earth makes it 2 or even 1 of something other than our assumptions and human made descriptions? You cannot say nature gave us these numbers... it's insane to say so.

    The human brain is responsible for these patterns, it's always looking for patterns in everything but that doesn't necessarily make these patterns true in reality, for example we look at clouds and see a face but that isn't a real face, it's a cloud formation and a brain created pattern. My problem with a system likes Maths is you could replace the values of all the numbers with each other so take for example we have a number range of 100 to 1, if 100 was assumed to be the lowest number and 1 as the highest, we could then create systems and arithmetic that would show this maths is correct, thus the numbers can be assumed and manipulated into any formation depending entirely on how they are perceived by us, not nature.
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    Patterns do exist in nature. If our math system was totally arbitrary, two people would never get the same result and we would never be able to predict natural processes accurately. Do you deny that this is happening?

    When you write down a number, the written number is made up, but it still represents a truth. I already said that it doesn't matter what number system you use. All of our math would still work with whatever one we chose. One orange, two oranges, three oranges. Comprende?
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    Wither we are perceiving and portraying these patterns correctly is another matter entirely.

    If your re-program/re-arrange the instruments that "predict" these natural processes in accordance with our new set of numbers then you get a totally different results that could be assumed as truth, it's in no way the same results as we have now so it would matter a lot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Wither we are perceiving and portraying these patterns correctly is another matter entirely.

    If your re-program/re-arrange the instruments that "predict" these natural processes in accordance with our new set of numbers then you get a totally different results that could be assumed as truth, it's in no way the same results as we have now so it would matter a lot.
    You don't get different results. If you work out the weight an iron beam can carry before it bends, using ANY number system would still give the correct amount. The way we know we are correct is by experimentation, testing and experience. Things can only keep working out if we really were accurately describing the truth. Again, units and number systems are (basically) uniform so that we can be able to share what we know with others, but the chosen systems are largly arbitrary and any set of "tools" would do an equal job. Its like two people saying the exact same thing in different languages.
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    I have some sympathy with Critical on this one.

    To claim that something is 'true' is to make a claim of some sort and needs validating. The problem with mathematics is that, while mathematicians are certain of its truth, professional philosophers, in general, are still in a quandary as to what sort of truth mathematics might represent. Ayer and others, for instance, are definitely of the opinion that the truth of mathematics lies in its tautology - that is, it is true by definition, not by any real world test.

    Others, like many of the posters here, believe it is an empirical truth about the world that can somehow be tested. But if so, then they have to live with the possibility, as with all sciences, of it being capable of falsification. To say that mathematics is empirically true ("This is the way the universe works") but still not to admit it could be falsified, is to make an unsupported claim, or at the very least, an unscientific one.

    I am still of the opinion that the truths we claim regarding science and mathematics are quite different from the truth claims of religion, or any form of theism, but I will only post my opinion if I have time enough to make myself clear.

    For now, just to make the point that, in philosophy at least, the status of mathematics is generally considered to be an open one - there is no formal consensus on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    1 + 1 = 2 is just the truth? How do you know that 1+1 is not just something and another something for example "2 balloons" as just a balloon and another balloon,
    There is no difference between two balloons and a balloon and another balloon. Rather there is the same difference for those as for Ou est le chien? and Where is the dog? They are the same concept expressed with a different language.

    Arcane has expressed the dogmatic position of many enthusiastic mathematicians who believe, perhaps correctly, they have found the Holy Grail and it is 42. Sunshine Warrior has presented a more balanced assessment of our current understanding of the 'truth' about math.


    The one really positive thing you can say about mathematics is that you can count on it. :wink:
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    It really isn't about finding the Holy Grail, Ophiolite. It really is as much a language as English or French, it's just used for a different context. Mathematics is used to describe physical laws with precision. Basic arithmetic, however, is necessarily true, always, by definition. That is not a dogmatic sentiment, and my position on math is by no means dogmatic in any other respect, as I don't trust my life to it or believe it can show me the 'ultimate truth'. There is no philosophical value in math. Period. It is not a variable, it is an absolute. It is not open to interpretation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It really isn't about finding the Holy Grail, Ophiolite. It really is as much a language as English or French, it's just used for a different context.
    This is what I think too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Mathematics is used to describe physical laws with precision. Basic arithmetic, however, is necessarily true, always, by definition.
    What is true by definition is fine as well, and I have no particular problem with that. Philosophically speaking, there are a few issues to consider.

    1. What is true by definition cannot then be considered to be true empirically, because truth by definition is unfalsifiable and therefore fails Popper's test. This is not necessarily a problem, as you point out, but...

    2. When we use something true by definition (basic mathematics/arithmetic etc) on something empirical, in this case physical laws, all we can be said to be doing then is manipulating the language to achieve certain results, but almost any professional mathematician will accept that it can be considered no more than a happy coincidence that mathematics is useful for the study of physical laws (in the strictest sense, of course - this statement would sound like a nonsense to a trader using standardised weights and measures, but the context there is different).

    3. One of the reasons why I used the phrase "happy coincidence" is, of course, that thanks to Hume ("The Problem of Induction"), Kant (the noumenal versus the phenomenal) and others thereafter, we have to be wary when we speak of physical laws. For most philosophers today, Plato's idea of "carving nature at the joints" is a dead dream. As most scientists would admit, even their notion of what the physical laws might be is provisional.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    That is not a dogmatic sentiment, and my position on math is by no means dogmatic in any other respect, as I don't trust my life to it or believe it can show me the 'ultimate truth'. There is no philosophical value in math. Period. It is not a variable, it is an absolute. It is not open to interpretation.
    Alas, mathematics is always open to interpretation. While some of the tautological aspects of it, the Zermelo-Frankel thingies and so on, are reasonably well settled, the fact is they have been brought into use effectively by a consensus of mathematicians agreeing that they "work". Prior to them, of course, thanks to Russell's paradox and many others, it was difficult even to say what the basis of mathematics might be.

    Even now, thanks to Godel, there are unanswerable questions in mathematics. As people like Greg Chaitin have shown, this can lead to unexpectedly creative results, but certainly cannot be called absolute, or incapable of interpretation.

    This is fun stuff for philosophers, but may be uncomfortable for anybody who has been led to believe that mathematics is "settled".

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    I believe you are reading too much into mathematics. An example of the language variety. The word 'cat' is very well defined, and it is known exactly what that word refers too; in that sense, the word 'cat' is true in that given circumstance, absolutely, and without fail. That is true by definition, and that is what I mean when I say rudimentary math is absolutely and necessarily true, by definition. You can't change the meanings of words, and you can't change the interpretation of math. You can interpret what you use it for, but not math itself.

    Mathematical example: A right triangle has sides in ratio of where =short side 1, 2 and L= long side.
    This is proven true. Since it is proven, and not conjectural, it is absolutely true, meaning it is always true, and never wrong. The specific equality is not open to interpretation and cannot be 'played' with to make it mean something else. How you apply it outside of this context, however, is another story; but as it is, it is NOT by any means allowed to be altered at will to change it. If someone attempts to interpret something based on this principle, you can easily state mathematical principles are literal, and not open to interpretation and be correct.

    Physical laws are the most rudimentary 'interpretation' on mathematical principles, but even saying that is a bit of a stretch, as they simply abide by them, in that whatever the laws of the natural world abide by will follow a mathematical concept and follow it explicitly.

    The examples you are using are philosophical, not mathematical. Yes, Math principles can be taken out of context and have interpretation forced on them, but that nullifies what they were originally intended to mean. Induction is not exactly the same in the natural world as in the mathematical one. I'm sorry, Shanks, but as much as I appreciate the post it isn't striking the heart of the issue, it's still adopting the philosophical appreciation of a non-philosophical critter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I believe you are reading too much into mathematics. An example of the language variety. The word 'cat' is very well defined, and it is known exactly what that word refers too; in that sense, the word 'cat' is true in that given circumstance, absolutely, and without fail. That is true by definition, and that is what I mean when I say rudimentary math is absolutely and necessarily true, by definition. You can't change the meanings of words, and you can't change the interpretation of math. You can interpret what you use it for, but not math itself.
    Here’s where philosophy differs from the mathematician’s interpretation of mathematics. The word cat, as Wittgenstein pointed out, is only meaningful in use. There can be no absolute definition of it because it has no absolute referent in the phenomenal world (the world of experience). For instance, a tiger is a type of cat most people would agree. But if you said to most people “there’s a cat on the roof of the shed”, they would not assume you meant a tiger. It’s all very well to talk of definitions, but unless they’re circular, as in mathematics when talking only about itself, there is nothing absolute about them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Mathematical example: A right triangle has sides in ratio of where =short side 1, 2 and L= long side.
    This is proven true. Since it is proven, and not conjectural, it is absolutely true, meaning it is always true, and never wrong. The specific equality is not open to interpretation and cannot be 'played' with to make it mean something else. How you apply it outside of this context, however, is another story; but as it is, it is NOT by any means allowed to be altered at will to change it. If someone attempts to interpret something based on this principle, you can easily state mathematical principles are literal, and not open to interpretation and be correct.
    Unfortunately, even this does not hold true, because it is only proven true under the unstated assumption of plane geometry. It does not, as far as I’m aware, hold for non-Euclidean surfaces. This example shows why the mathematician’s interpretation of the ‘meaning’ of mathematics can be limited by his/her perspective. That’s why we’re discussing this in the philosophy section.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Physical laws are the most rudimentary 'interpretation' on mathematical principles, but even saying that is a bit of a stretch, as they simply abide by them, in that whatever the laws of the natural world abide by will follow a mathematical concept and follow it explicitly.
    That, unfortunately, is an unsubstantiated claim. No philosopher yet has been able to provide a fool-proof argument regarding this assertion. It’s just that mathematicians and scientists tend to take it for granted. Not that anyone has ever demonstrated it, or proven it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    The examples you are using are philosophical, not mathematical. Yes, Math principles can be taken out of context and have interpretation forced on them, but that nullifies what they were originally intended to mean. Induction is not exactly the same in the natural world as in the mathematical one. I'm sorry, Shanks, but as much as I appreciate the post it isn't striking the heart of the issue, it's still adopting the philosophical appreciation of a non-philosophical critter.
    Induction in mathematics has its own definition, I know this. But I also know that the Problem of Induction is a well-known one in philosophy and there is no point confusing it with mathematical induction. The critter may not wish to be philosophical, but the philosopher need not accept the critter’s desire to limit him to what it thinks is his sphere. The enquiries of philosophy range over all aspects of human ‘knowledge’, without restraint, I’m afraid, so this discussion is entirely apropos.

    Look forward to your reply.

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  29. #28 Re: An atheist's faith 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    most if not all atheists will tell you they have no faith, that they don't work in faith or something else along that nature.
    That's true. Because faith is stained by religion and also most atheists believe a truly logical path humanly possible, they toss it with the bathwater.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I believe you are reading too much into mathematics. An example of the language variety. The word 'cat' is very well defined, and it is known exactly what that word refers too; in that sense, the word 'cat' is true in that given circumstance, absolutely, and without fail. That is true by definition, and that is what I mean when I say rudimentary math is absolutely and necessarily true, by definition. You can't change the meanings of words, and you can't change the interpretation of math. You can interpret what you use it for, but not math itself.
    Here’s where philosophy differs from the mathematician’s interpretation of mathematics. The word cat, as Wittgenstein pointed out, is only meaningful in use. There can be no absolute definition of it because it has no absolute referent in the phenomenal world (the world of experience). For instance, a tiger is a type of cat most people would agree. But if you said to most people “there’s a cat on the roof of the shed”, they would not assume you meant a tiger. It’s all very well to talk of definitions, but unless they’re circular, as in mathematics when talking only about itself, there is nothing absolute about them.
    You have a point, but it would still make sense to say "there is a cat on the roof" when it's a tiger, and that's where the whole definition is still true, and still somewhat of an absolute. Interpretation, however, would be that "cat" would refer to a smaller species than a tiger, despite the fact that that possibility is included in the definition of the word. The big thing I'm getting at is that no one, when hearing "there's a cat on the roof," would think that an owl just roosted on their roof. I suppose we have a different opinion on what constitutes an absolute definition, but to at least recognize that they exist within the mathematical world is a plus, as that is my primary concern.

    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Mathematical example: A right triangle has sides in ratio of where =short side 1, 2 and L= long side.
    This is proven true. Since it is proven, and not conjectural, it is absolutely true, meaning it is always true, and never wrong. The specific equality is not open to interpretation and cannot be 'played' with to make it mean something else. How you apply it outside of this context, however, is another story; but as it is, it is NOT by any means allowed to be altered at will to change it. If someone attempts to interpret something based on this principle, you can easily state mathematical principles are literal, and not open to interpretation and be correct.
    Unfortunately, even this does not hold true, because it is only proven true under the unstated assumption of plane geometry. It does not, as far as I’m aware, hold for non-Euclidean surfaces. This example shows why the mathematician’s interpretation of the ‘meaning’ of mathematics can be limited by his/her perspective. That’s why we’re discussing this in the philosophy section.
    I believe it holds true for all geometrical constructs of a right triangle. At the very least, it will work on a sphere. I suppose perspective can 'limit' how a person will perceive something that they work with, though I highly doubt that it's to the detriment of the person's understanding. I'd like to think that the specialization in an area or field of knowledge would give some one an appreciation for what is meant by the knowledge, and a general understanding of the proper context for the use of that knowledge, as opposed to limiting the way they see it and showing that they have a closed off interpretation. Rather, I'd say it gives the individual the ability to see the subject in it's literal sense, and not an interpretive one.

    My main point with this, however, was more to say that this equation, this specific example, only has legitimate meaning in mathematics. It doesn't make sense to ask how this impacts the meaning of life, or what it says about our inner desires. It seems silly to me to try to think of mathematical concepts in relation to something that isn't mathematical, in much the same way that is done all the time, and has even birthed a fun psuedo-scientific practice known as Numerology.

    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    The examples you are using are philosophical, not mathematical. Yes, Math principles can be taken out of context and have interpretation forced on them, but that nullifies what they were originally intended to mean. Induction is not exactly the same in the natural world as in the mathematical one. I'm sorry, Shanks, but as much as I appreciate the post it isn't striking the heart of the issue, it's still adopting the philosophical appreciation of a non-philosophical critter.
    Induction in mathematics has its own definition, I know this. But I also know that the Problem of Induction is a well-known one in philosophy and there is no point confusing it with mathematical induction. The critter may not wish to be philosophical, but the philosopher need not accept the critter’s desire to limit him to what it thinks is his sphere. The enquiries of philosophy range over all aspects of human ‘knowledge’, without restraint, I’m afraid, so this discussion is entirely apropos.
    The critter has to be changed on a fundamental level to become philosophical, which it has. Induction, philosophically, doesn't have the same tenets of it's mathematical cousin, and only really shows this when an issue arises with it, sadly. While philosophy is effectively the study of knowledge, it is a more common question in philosophy to relate all science with principles and aspects of life. The biggest image I get when I think of a philosopher isn't a mathematician studying diligently about Stoke's theorem, but the person down the hall pondering and contemplating the meaning of life. Both of these people are philosophers, and I suppose it is a shortcoming of mine to associate only one of them with that title as opposed to both. I'll try to be more clear with what I mean in the future.
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  31. #30  
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    I suspect we're pretty much on the same page here. Addressing the OP though, may take more time than I have right now.

    As the kids used to say: laterz

    Edit: OK, I've had a little time in which to have a bash at it. Here goes...



    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Okay well I have a question for all atheists regarding their "faith", as we know it most if not all atheists will tell you they have no faith, that they don't work in faith or something else along that nature. I would like to know how one can say such a thing and suggest otherwise.
    An inquiring mind is always a good thing in the philo sub-forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Mostly everything in Science revolves around numbers and mathematical formulas, my question is how do you know that mathematics is correct? For example how do you know that 1,2,3,4,5 (etc...) even mean anything?
    There may be the need for clearer definition here.

    Science uses mathematics it is true, but apart from advanced modern physics, mostly it uses mathematics for measurement. The only point for science in terms of measurement is that it should ‘work’, in the same way a market trader wants his weights and measures to work. In order to achieve this, a consensus is reached, usually with the assistance of a government body or two, with regard to consistent practice. Now it is ontologically possible that what we regard as consistent practice is ‘actually’ not consistent at all, and our senses are constantly fooling us. This is irrelevant to the matter, however, as consistency of phenomena is all we require for this to be used. It is the same sort of consistency that we use to set standards in courtrooms, say, or that we’d like from teachers of our children in their classrooms. In short, it is at core a socially mediated consistency, not an act of faith.

    The mathematics itself does not have to be ‘correct’. Mathematics, as Arcane-Mathamatician and I have been discussing, is self-consistent in that whatever is in it is true by definition. We simply define the function of addition to say that n+(1+1) is the same as (n+1)+1 and with this, and further definitions, we need make no reference to a ‘real’ world Mathematics becomes a self-consistent language that mathematicians enjoy playing with and (see the previous paragraph) scientists find useful in their task of creating weights and measures.

    Not all scientists or mathematicians will see their disciplines in this way, and many will take a more “blind faith” approach to both maths and science, but this, as I’ve described it, is pretty much the modern analytical philosophy take on these subjects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Mathematics, if I remember correctly was created by the Greeks, coincidentally a group of people you like to call nutters when it comes to their belief systems, so what makes their maths so sound as to believe in it?
    Here another clarification may help – the origins of a subject, a discipline, a species or a practice may or may not have anything to do with their current use. For instance, Newton believed in alchemy and spent most of his life writing various unreadable and mistaken tomes on it. It also happens that he wrote his Principia , one of the seminal works of both science and mathematics. Its value is in no way diminished by his crackpot cantankerousness in other areas.

    Crerationists make a similar mistake when they tell their (apocryphal) stories regarding Darwin’s death-bed conversion to Christianity. It is entirely irrelevant whether or not Darwin was a Christian, or converted to it – the quality of the ideas he provided us with are what we admire.

    So, as I pointed out a few paragraphs earlier – we do not ‘believe in’ Greek mathematics, rather we ‘use’ it. And we use it because, regardless of its origins, we find it very useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    for example how do you know 2 apples are even 2 apples and not just an apple and another apple... there is nothing to suggest it's 2 other than mathematical language that was made up for it.
    With regard to this, of course we don’t. If, however, an ‘apple’ is defined to be a particular mathematical object, the we know by definition that 2 apples is 2 apples.

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    You see to believe in this requires the exact same level of faith, there is no difference at all, you are believing in what someone has told you.
    And I hope I have made clear by now that there is no belief involved in the use of science or the use of maths in science. It is a question of utility.

    I don’t “believe in” my bicycle but am entirely happy to use it to and from work every day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Now you could say there is no discussion here, look at what science and maths has given us... there is no dispute in that however it originated in a time where mysticism was the norm and there was no scientific mindset as we know it today so where did the people obtain this information? secondly you can do anything to numbers producing a desired result, who's to say that something else has not manifest and at play here producing the results and progress for us?
    Your first point here is a good one – the utility of maths in science is enough justification for its continued use.

    Your second point, as I hope I’ve shown earlier, actually mistakes the origin for the function – and there is no necessary connection between the two.

    Your third point is slightly mistaken. Indeed if you want a certain result you can even invent functions in mathematics that provide you with the desired answer, but you must bear in mind that if this function is not consistent with the rest of mathematics then it is guaranteed to produce paradoxes and eventually the impossibility of proving anything in mathematics while this function exists. So you cannot actually redefine the addition function to, say, “the function of addition is whatever I want it to be at the time I require a particular result”, because the rest of mathematics will not work with it. Unlike religion, faith, or even science, mathematics is an axiomatic system. Logic is the same. They are not dependent upon their histories for validation, nor the ‘real world’ or its phenomena. They are true, if they can be called true, purely by virtue of their self-consistency.

    I do not know if you think I may have fairly addressed the issues you raised, but I hope that I made as clear as possible the reasons why the use of mathematics in science is not a faith-based activity.

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    Okay you guys have definitely made sense, it's caused me to look at my questions deeper which can only be healthy so I thank you's for that. The case is not closed for me on this one though there is still some unanswered questions which I will try to post up here when I get time.
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    What has math got to do with atheism?

    Newton tried to prove the existence of God with his formulas.

    Why would he do that if math is something atheists believe in? Math is something that both atheists and theists accept as a logical tool.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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    ….things in math must be done in a specific way to be logically consistent, and that's the key difference between a traditional language and Math. That's why I refer to it as the language of science, because it is rooted in logic, reason, and structure. Things that predate life.

    Hmm…

    But that a dog has ‘four legs’ predates English. (I’m referring to much earlier posts, sorry).

    You could argue that English is rooted in logic, reason, and structure. The most pedantic English, with it it’s rules - is like math. I’m aware of the implications for law, over a possible ‘comma’ in the American Declaration Of Independence.


    … a better way to look at it, in terms of equivalence, is English is to math in the same way English is to physics.

    A layer ‘up’, I think you’re saying. I don’t think I’m as smart as you… so I say this with some abandon… still not sure that math is not ‘just’ a language.

    I feel a ‘Latin’ prejudice effect. It’s not really of value ( in earlier centuries) unless it’s said in Latin. Because, well, Latin is special. Becauae "we* speak it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    What has math got to do with atheism?
    It was from my post on page 1 originally and it was an example.

    I was trying to make the OP understand that wanting or wishing something to be true doesent change reality. And that ASSUMING something is true with NO evidance is foolish.

    To answer his question more directly id say

    "An Atheist is a person that perceives the world for what it is, not what they want or wish it to be. Our faith is the truth - and no matter how harsh it may be. We will never surrender our minds into the slavery of the comfort, that lies and self delusions offer"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell
    To answer his question more directly id say

    "An Atheist is a person that perceives the world for what it is, not what they want or wish it to be. Our faith is the truth - and no matter how harsh it may be. We will never surrender our minds into the slavery of the comfort, that lies and self delusions offer"
    Being an atheist myself, I must say that I think you give atheists too much credit. All atheists have is a lack of theism... a lack of belief in god. After that, there are a great many rather ignorant and irrational fools who just happen not to believe in god.

    (granted, at least they're not irrational and foolish in the same manner as the theist :wink: )
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  37. #36 Re: An atheist's faith 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    Okay well I have a question for all atheists regarding their "faith", as we know it most if not all atheists will tell you they have no faith, that they don't work in faith or something else along that nature. I would like to know how one can say such a thing and suggest otherwise.

    Mostly everything in Science revolves around numbers and mathematical formulas, my question is how do you know that mathematics is correct? For example how do you know that 1,2,3,4,5 (etc...) even mean anything? Mathematics, if I remember correctly was created by the Greeks, coincidentally a group of people you like to call nutters when it comes to their belief systems, so what makes their maths so sound as to believe in it? for example how do you know 2 apples are even 2 apples and not just an apple and another apple... there is nothing to suggest it's 2 other than mathematical language that was made up for it.
    i think the question is badly phrased if you don't mind me saying - it has the assumption that people who are atheist believe in science which i don't think is the case.............
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    I'm pretty sure "atheism" doesn't mean anything beyond a lack of belief/disbelief in any sort of deity unless you intend to needlessly enlarge the term.
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  39. #38 Re: An atheist's faith 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Critical
    You see to believe in this requires the exact same level of faith, there is no difference at all, you are believing in what someone has told you.
    One major difference between science and religion is that scientists are (usually) open to the possibility that they are wrong.
    If someone could provide evidence/proof that 1 + 1 does not equal 2 (which I'm not sure is possible, since in another thread someone mentioned that the definition of 2 is 1 + 1) then a good scientist will change their mind. On the other hand, most religious people will dismiss any evidence that contradicts what they believe.
    Religion is dogmatic, science is not.
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    maths isn't really real, but a way we have to look at the world, and it has nothing to do with adding a creator to make you feel more comfortable with your life and hope emptily for life after death, which stems from survival instinct.
    http://s1.zetaboards.com/Conceptual_Evolution/index/

    Is the new address for speculative evolution.
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    Wow interesting post !


    sunshinewarrior : Alas, mathematics is always open to interpretation
    Your posts are very informative and interesting, though I was struck with "alas" ? Why alas ? It feels like you are pre-occupied (as most humans are) with completeness or security or 'if only we could do this with maths then ... would be possible'.

    The philosophy you have described very clearly (thank you) - well it feels like a bunch of men who over the ages have struggled with this "alas", struggled with the incompleteness of maths ... and have worked in a reactionary and battling way to defeat the incompleteness. As oppose to just setting the course for discovery without circling the island of incompleteness. It seems a human handicap, it would be interesting to hear a philosopher who didn't feel like battling incompleteness.

    inow : Being an atheist myself, I must say that I think you give atheists too much credit. All atheists have is a lack of theism... a lack of belief in god. After that, there are a great many rather ignorant and irrational fools who just happen not to believe in god.
    ... after that, and not before ?
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    The point I believe that the original poster is trying to assert is that atheists adhere to a certain form of "faith" because the systems of which they subscribe themselves is also not proven, such as a man who has faith in God.

    Please allow me to insert an analogy....

    Setting: Mesopotamia, 5000BC, at night

    Two men cast their eyes unto the heavens to see a full moon, and both are astounded by what they observe. One man understands his position in the world to be determined by a greater force and so discovers God. The other man cares not about his position in the world but understands the moon in relation to his barley crop, and so discovers the calander. One man uses his language to define God, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. The other man uses his language to define the system, and all that lies between the beginning and the end. One is not wrong nor right. They simply are interpretting the same thing in different ways and use language to place value on what they observe, to make better sense of the world in which they live. Faith or no faith, God or no god. Quite irrelevant to the moon, I must say.

    What became of these men? A quest, a journey, forever reaching and striving to arrive at a common place yet tread different paths that will never merge, grasping and yearning... to know.

    Mysticism did not begin with the Greeks, (nor did math) but is a belief in or experience of a reality surpassing normal human understanding or experience, especially a reality perceived as essential to the nature of life, and so divided man as civilization began to flourish. Mans ability to build, as governed by precise calculations, could have been interpreted by nomatic man to be beyond human experience, so that the laws of nature which were defined by God were violated. However, the builders did not defy any laws, but only defined them. There where the mystics who believed that man should not know, and realists who were in the knowing. And so remains today.
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    the mystics who believed that man should not know
    We all see illusions in life. Whether it is politicians' lies, or the lies of our parents' expectations of us.

    Mostly, people go through life breaking down barrier after barrier. As you get older, especially if you have clung to certain illusions only to find them to be a mirage, you can get cynical.

    Mystics -in my view- realise that the source of the illusions come from taking in knowledge from the outside. You are instructed by your parents/teachers/society ... later you notice lies in these instructions.

    Mystics observed the pattern of these illusions, and decided to skip to the end. Outside knowledge is not reliable ... but perhaps there is some inner knowledge that is.


    Most men go through life without making this breakthrough. Maybe only 1 in 10,000 men will observe this pattern, and act on it. Buddha did - is he religious or just rational ?

    Life is a river. You are in it. Nature has made it automatic to procreate and mate, attraction, eating ... it's all very automatic. It is so automatic that people live and die without seeing beyond it - like the animals.

    But, for man perhaps there is something else ... the ability to see the river, and see himself in it. And ask the real questions.

    1 in 10,000.
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