Instigator
Points: 5

Faith and belief are useless in the pursuit of truth

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 2 votes the winner is ...
drafterman
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Science
Time for argument
One day
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
30,000
Contender
Points: 14
Description
No information
Round 1
Published:
There is an objective truth, and it does not care about anyone's opinions or feelings.
Humans are highly superstitious animals, and it is actually the norm to be delusional in human societies. There very fabric of the average human mind consists of social constructs, subjective perceptions, and superstitions that we call beliefs and opinions. The scientific method was designed to ascertain object truths about the physical mechanics of reality (although it cannot ascertain the essence of reality, what something "is". Only it's properties and behaviour). Even most scientists however do not think scientifically, a scientist is someone who uses science to achieve certain goals, but the majority of them still think like normal people in everyday life. A scientific thinker is someone who has no beliefs or opinions about reality, and only holds to speculation, inquiry, theory and proven facts. This is how everyone should be taught to think, because in our current state the average human is merely a vessel for the values, ideas,and opinions which it receives from it's environment and conditioning, which it calls it's "personal" values, ideas and opinions.
Published:
General Refutation

The instigator states that belief is "useless in the pursuit of truth" and that a scientific thinker is "someone who has no beliefs or opinions about reality." The instigator has not provided us what his definition or meaning of the word "belief" is in this context but in epistemology, a belief is simply something that is held or accepted as true by a person[1]. In this sense, beliefs are a necessary component in any question for truth, as we must accept things as true (believe them) in order to build upon those beliefs and reach new heights.

Specific Refutation

Granting that, in this context, the instigator is referring specifically to beliefs that without factual basis, are assumed, or otherwise lack a solif foundation on which to establish truth. Even these are still required in any search for the truth.

In making a deduction about available facts, the soundness of any conclusion depends on the validity of our initial premises. Our premises are themselves deduced from more basic premises or are assumed. If we discount any assumptions, then we can only have premises which have been deduced from other premises. This results in an infinite chain of logic argument without beginning, robbing us of the ability to even begin our quest for truth. We must start somewhere!

Where we start are the assumptions and axioms of our system. They are present in all of the sciences and even in more "pure" areas such as mathematics and logic. Some basic assumptions in science[2]:

  • That cause and affect exists as all as natural phenomenon;
  • That our observations of past events can give us insight into future events;
  • The physical world is governed by laws which are consistent everywhere and throughout time;
Without adopting any beliefs whatsoever, we lack the ability to make any reasonable predictions of the future, and the grand adventure of science is ended before it can begin.

Point-by-Point Refutation

The instigator made a number of points in this Round. I present those points in quotes, and my response in italics.

  • "Humans are highly superstitious animals, and it is actually the norm to be delusional in human societies." - Though irrelevant to the point at large, I will note that "delusions" are generally defined and identified by their abnormality.
  • "The scientific method was designed to ascertain object truths about the physical mechanics of reality" - While I do not object to this simplification of the scientific method, I will note that its role in history runs counter to instigator's argument. The modern scientific method was largely built upon the views and ideas of Karl Popper. While Popper eschewed the role of induction in science, he did not object to the use of beliefs in the pursuit of science. In fact, he embraced their use! Rather than eliminate beliefs (which he calls "conjectures") Popper provided a method by which we can choose among them. The goal was not the elimination of conjecture, but to criticize it and, through falsification and empirical testing, arrive at the one that best describes reality[3]
  • "A scientific thinker is someone who has no beliefs or opinions about reality, and only holds to speculation, inquiry, theory and proven facts." - I will note that the instigator offers no support for this definition of "scientific thinker." (Indeed, it is presented as instigator's own opinion, which is ironic). Every person on Earth has held beliefs and opinions about reality (by any definition). We must then conclude that there are no "true" scientific thinkers, or perhaps this definition is incorrect. Given the purpose of such a definition as to classify something that exists in reality, we must discount this definition as flawed. Plenty of "scientific thinkers" throughout history have held beliefs or opinions about reality.
Summation

Beliefs, even those that are pure assumptions, are necessary in the search for truth. In addition to their necessity, there are immensely useful. I do not claim that they must be held without critical analysis, or never questioned, but rather it is through this process that we separate the wheat from the chaff. One has no use without the other and I challenge the instigator to provide any scientific fact, no matter how trivial, that is not rooted in some belief about the world.

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "[T]he attitude we have, roughly, whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as true." From: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/belief/
[3] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "[T]he nature of science as Popper sees it: at any given time there will be a number of conflicting theories or conjectures, some of which will explain more than others." From: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/#GrowHumaKnow

Round 2
Published:
**The instigator has not provided us what his definition or meaning of the word "belief"**
A belief in the context of my argument is something that you hold to be true, but which is not necessarily true. The implication is that it is illogical to hold something to be true unless you actually know it is true.
**in epistemology, a belief is simply something that is held or accepted as true by a person[1]. In this sense, beliefs are a necessary component in any question for truth,**
The problem with belief is that you do not need to know something to think it is true, therefor you are opening yourself up to be incorrect if you have beliefs rather than open inquiry and proven facts, especially if those beliefs are based on faith (AKA nothing).
**In making a deduction about available facts, the soundness of any conclusion depends on the validity of our initial premises. Our premises are themselves deduced from more basic premises or are assumed.**
Incorrect. This is where the open inquiry and speculation part come in. You don't need to believe something to consider it, your ideas should consist of hypotheses, theory and fact rather than any form of assumption.
**If we discount any assumptions, then we can only have premises which have been deduced from other premises. This results in an infinite chain of logic argument without beginning,**
The scientific method works a lot better when you postulate your hypothesis and then search for evidence rather than diving into your hypothesis from the top of the empire state building and hope it catches your fall. There is no need for assuming, only inquiring.

**Some basic assumptions in science[2]:That cause and affect exists as all as natural phenomenon;**
Not only can you observe cause and effect in literally everything in the universe but it is logically impossible for everything that exists and happens to not be caused. If such where the case, then things can literally pop out of nothing, a unicorn could spontaneously essemble in your lap in a universe lacking cause and effect.
**That our observations of past events can give us insight into future events;**
Given that cause and effect is inevitably a physical necessity, it goes without saying that past events influence future events, and therefor are relevant in their prediction.

**The physical world is governed by laws which are consistent everywhere and throughout time;**
It's actually been proven that the laws of physics aren't consistent everywhere and throughout time. The known laws of physics break down in many cases such as with singularities and quantum entanglement.
**Without adopting any beliefs whatsoever, we lack the ability to make any reasonable predictions of the future, and the grand adventure of science is ended before it can begin.**
Entirely baseless and false. You do not need to believe in anything to form a hypothesis, you only need an idea and some information.
**Though irrelevant to the point at large, I will note that "delusions" are generally defined and identified by their abnormality.**
Firstly, it's not irrelevant, the average human is both naturally inclined and encouraged by society to think in terms of personal beliefs and opinions rather than objectivity and methodology. Secondly, concluding that delusional notions are defined by their abnormality is assanine. Delusional notions are defined by their relationship to objective reality and if you think the majority of humans can't be wrong about a lot of things then I don't know how to help you other than to refer you to the nearest psychiatric ward.
**While I do not object to this simplification of the scientific method, I will note that its role in history runs counter to instigator's argument. The modern scientific method was largely built upon the views and ideas of Karl Popper. While Popper eschewed the role of induction in science, he did not object to the use of beliefs in the pursuit of science. In fact, he embraced their use! Rather than eliminate beliefs (which he calls "conjectures") Popper provided a method by which we can choose among them.**
You are missing the point of science if you think beliefs are a necessary part of the scientific method. These "conjectures" are merely postulations, guesses maybe, but not necessarily beliefs. Also the scientific method was built gradually and still has room for improvement, Karl Popper was significant to it's formation but he did not lay it's foundation or complete the development of it's methodology.
**I will note that the instigator offers no support for this definition of "scientific thinker." (Indeed, it is presented as instigator's own opinion, which is ironic).**
There is no official definition for scientific thinker, the irony is entirely semantic. What I am referring to is someone who applies scientific standards to everything they allow themselves to accept as truth.

**Every person on Earth has held beliefs and opinions about reality (by any definition).**
True, but that doesn't make it the best way to think. I am thinking long term here, humans will not always be humans (provided we don't go extinct before we reach type one civilisation status) and we will learn to think in entirely different ways. The first step towards that point is to change our culture globally and change the way people form ideas to make it impossible for them to be indoctrinated or programmed in the way they currently are by society.
**We must then conclude that there are no "true" scientific thinkers,**
It's quite possible that this is the case. It is something that we must work towards through shifting the culture and changing the way successive generations are brought up.
**Given the purpose of such a definition as to classify something that exists in reality, we must discount this definition as flawed. Plenty of "scientific thinkers" throughout history have held beliefs or opinions about reality.**
I must discount this statement as an abuse of semantics. I have already stated what I mean when I say scientific thinker.

**Summation**
Pretty much everything you said was complete and utter bollocks, mate.



Published:
Definition of Belief

My opponent has provided clarification regarding the use of the word "belief" in the context of this debate:

A belief in the context of my argument is something that you hold to be true, but which is not necessarily true.
To which I addressed with my "Specific Refutation" in the previous round. To summarize:

  • Beliefs cannot be avoided;
  • Beliefs are necessary in order to build up to additional truths;
Beliefs Cannot be Avoided

My opponent response to this point was to concede that humans are predisposed towards belief, but argued that this was not the "best" way to think and then speculated that, at some unspecified point in the future, humans will undergo some unspecified metamorphosis that results in human beings thinking in different ways. My opponent offers no evidence that this is the case, nor presents any sort of reasoned argument. It is bare speculation and should be rejected by the reader.

Additionally, the criteria of "the best way to think" is not what this debate is about. The debate, as presented originally, was that beliefs are useless and have no role in scientific thinking. It is this argument to which I am responding. If my opponent wishes to have a different debate, that will have to wait until this is one is over.

Human beings naturally believe things. This is undisputed.

Beliefs are Necessary

I alluded to a famous problem regarding logic in my previous round. Arguments and reasoning cannot be purely deduced. They necessarily rely on premises which are accepted as true, but axiomatically, not based on reasoning or justification. My opponent does not dispute that this dichotomy exists, but suggests that these premises are merely "considered" rather than "believed." While there are many cases where premises are accepted for the purposes of argumentation, the axioms that serve as the foundation of science, mathematics, and logic, are accepted - and believed - as true. To suggest they not be believed is to undermine the very foundation of the disciplines of knowledge upon which they are built.

I presented (by way of example, and not as limitation) a series of axioms that are accepted in science. Of the first two (the existence of causation and its predictive qualities) my opponent simply states that they are not axioms, but provides no basis for accepting that claim. In contrast, I provided reference for these things as assumptions rather than the results of reasoned argument or evidence.

The third assumption, that of the consistency of physical laws, has let to a confusion. I did not mean to suggest that our human-made models are consistent everywhere and throughout time, but that the actual laws of physics, whatever they may be are what they are and are not different here, or there, now, or then, or in the future. Our approximations of these laws necessarily change as the accuracy of our observations change, upon which we refine our model to better reflect reality.

Conclusion

My opponent has made a number of bare assertions, without actual argument or external support. In other places, my opponent simply offers bare refutation and, failing that, insults. I submit that these bare assertions are not enough to counter my arguments, cited and supported, and encourage the reader to vote accordingly.
Round 3
Published:
"My opponent response to this point was to concede that humans are predisposed towards belief, but argued that this was not the "best" way to think"
Belief is by definition inferior to knowledge and faith is by definition blind acceptance and therefore inferior to hypothesis and theory. The reason humans feel the need to "believe" in things is because they don't know things and they are too much of a primitive gaggle of apes to admit it or realise it.

"speculated that, at some unspecified point in the future, humans will undergo some unspecified metamorphosis that results in human beings thinking in different ways."
This is a fact, actually. If humans don't go extinct or fall from civilisation somehow then we will inevitably evolve, implement biotechnology to guide our evolution, and develop new ways of thinking and ascertaining reality. On top of that even without anatomical changes to the brain humans have always developed new cultures and ways of thinking. Literally all of human history is proof that my statement is true, because humans constantly undergo change in their culture, values and thought processes over time.

**Additionally, the criteria of "the best way to think" is not what this debate is about. The debate, as presented originally, was that beliefs are useless and have no role in scientific thinking.**
This is very relevant to the debate at hand, if you don't see that then I really think you need to adjust your meds. The debate is primarily about what thought process is best for ascertaining objective truth. Scientific methodology has proven to be the most effective methodology known to man, and my argument is that superstition is useless AKA faith based beliefs.

"Human beings naturally believe things. This is undisputed."
Then human beings naturally form useless neurological connections known as superstitions. Whether humans can be conditioned to think scientifically in a general sense is debatable, but that doesn't even matter when it comes to whether beliefs are useless or not. Do men need nipples just because they have nipples?

"the axioms that serve as the foundation of science, mathematics, and logic, are accepted - and believed - as true. To suggest they not be believed is to undermine the very foundation of the disciplines of knowledge upon which they are built."
There is a reason that almost nothing is actually called a "fact" in science, have you noticed that? The things you refer to mostly pertain to theory, and some of it is proven methodology. But nothing in science is merely assumed and believed, this is antithetical to science. Science is about making observations, forming ideas and testing those ideas, to blindly accept an idea before it is proven is the exact polar opposite of what science is supposed to do.

"I presented (by way of example, and not as limitation) a series of axioms that are accepted in science. Of the first two (the existence of causation and its predictive qualities) my opponent simply states that they are not axioms, but provides no basis for accepting that claim. In contrast, I provided reference for these things as assumptions rather than the results of reasoned argument or evidence."
LOL. You literally just asserted that those things are assumptions but in actuality they are theories which are supported by evidence and logic. You debate in a deliberately deceptive manner, appealing to semantics, telling the opponent what their own statements mean and making assertions while claiming the opponent is making assertions when they are providing reasoned arguments.

"My opponent has made a number of bare assertions, without actual argument or external support"
I had hoped that whoever excepted this debate would be scientifically literate and know the difference between a theory and an assumption instead of cherry picking definitions and not only taking Popper's words out of context, but insinuating that he is the sole authority on the scientific method.

"I submit that these bare assertions are not enough to counter my arguments, cited and supported, and encourage the reader to vote accordingly."
Oh come off it you soddy pillock, this is a philosophical debate not something that can be addressed with references and citations, especially when your citation consists of cherry picked definitions and arbitrarily deciding that Karl Popper is the sole authority on how to think scientifically.





Published:
Unfortunately, the majority of my opponent's response is insult that has no place in a debate. To reiterate the guidelines of debate on this site:

In order to win the debate, it is necessary to not only provide more convincing arguments, but also to specify the information sources, to demonstrate respectful attitude to the opponent and to write text with a minimum amount of grammatical mistakes.
My opponent explicitly eschews sources and ignores references to them, and is clearly not interested in maintaining a respectful attitude. He has offer no argument in support of position, merely relying on his statements being obvious. He has failed to expand on his arguments from the first rounds, to which my refutations and rebuttals stand. To summarize:

Beliefs are inevitable.

There is no denying that humans change and will continue to do so, but the mere fact that humans change - in general - is not itself enough to demonstrate that they will change in a specific manner, namely that humans will stop believing things.

Beliefs are necessary.

In addition to the previous, cited, references of assumptions used in science, I present to the reader other state assumptions in support of this point:



(Note: While wikipedia itself is not an authoritative source, note that the specific statements are themselves cited with original sources in the referenced section).

Beliefs are the necessary building blocks upon which all other knowledge is built.
Added:
Interesting topic. Tried to read it to the end but Pro your formatting makes it kinda hard to follow what you're saying. Drafters on the other hand is very easy to read. Maybe consider sub headings and dot points for the sake of the readers, cuz I stopped trying halfway through R2.
#1
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Pro firstly defines belief as something that is automatically not factually true... You can believe a fact but a fact is beyond a belief that's how science works at least.
What Con does is dodge this nonsense by masterfully turning the definition of 'belief' against Pro. GG it's over tbph :)
You see, science is based on the belief other scientists aren't lying about their findings and methods and on top of that assumes the simplest explanation is the true one (Okham's Razor).
We see Pro throw out man insults to Con by tone alone.
Let's showcase some of Pro's grimiest Conduct moments:
"Pretty much everything you said was complete and utter bollocks, mate."
Here's a funny one (he is backing up Con's point that we blindly trust what other research says its found as true) by Pro saying "if you think the majority of humans can't be wrong about a lot of things then I don't know how to help you other than to refer you to the nearest psychiatric ward." Pro just insulted their own perspective here.
"Oh come off it you soddy pillock, this is a philosophical debate not something that can be addressed with references and citations, especially when your citation consists of cherry picked definitions and arbitrarily deciding that Karl Popper is the sole authority on how to think scientifically."
As for S&G, Pro had worse S&G and genuinely thinks the word 'accept' is spelled as 'except' but I never like to vote this as it's offensive to dyslexics and non-native English speakers.
When it comes to sources we are left at a bit of a loss with Pro, he goes so far as to say "his is a philosophical debate not something that can be addressed with references and citations." well... Then Pro concedes to lose the sources votes as Con used reliable sources throughout and justified their use of Wikipedia.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Conduct goes to con. "Oh come off it you soddy pillock" is not acceptable. Sources go to con as they were the only ones who used it. I'll analyse the arguments later.