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Proof [over faith]

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  • Joe (uk-ufo) McGonagle
    From www.skepticrant.com http://www.skepticrant.com/2005/11/proof.html Proof Ambrose Bierce describes proof as Evidence having a shade more of plausibility
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 6, 2005
      From www.skepticrant.com
      http://www.skepticrant.com/2005/11/proof.html

      Proof

      Ambrose Bierce describes proof as "Evidence having a shade more
      of plausibility than of unlikelihood. The testimony of two
      credible witnesses as opposed to that of only one." I really
      enjoy the writings of Bierce, and most of the time I find his
      perceptions insightfully sardonic. But, I really don't agree
      with him on this. Proof is about evidence not testimony. It's
      about verifiability and repeatability not plausibility. I know
      he was being sardonic and was perhaps commenting more on judicial
      proof than scientific proof, but I think this illustrates why
      skeptics are often so offended by what some people consider
      proof. If 100 people claim to see a UFO, that does not prove
      that they saw extraterrestrial life. It only proves that 100
      people saw something in the sky. UFO proponents are insistent
      that extraterrestrial life is visiting earth. Well, if that is
      true, then the proof is out there, and I, for one, would really
      like to see it.

      UFO religions are not that much different than believing in more
      traditional God systems, and they are valued for the same
      reasons. If you believe that extraterrestrial life is visiting
      Earth, then life is not limited to what we see around us. If
      extraterrestrials are visiting Earth then there must be more to
      existence then our little lives. This is a powerful hope,
      because for reasons I do not understand, existence itself is
      insufficient reason for amazement to most people. Personally, I
      am amazed everyday by my existence. I can't think of anything
      more astounding than waking up every day and finding that I am
      still alive and that the Earth continues to spin. These are not
      things that should be taken for granted. They should be embraced
      and exalted. Still most people are emotionally greedy, they want
      more, life is not enough, they want "purpose". Rather than look
      to themselves for that purpose they look beyond this world and
      create unattainable purposes. Why would people want an
      unattainable purpose? Because, if your purpose is unattainable,
      i.e. not of this world or this life, then you can never be
      disappointed.

      That is really what faith and religion is all about, creating a
      world view that is impossible to achieve so that you never have
      to face ultimate failure. No matter how crappy, insignificant,
      or meaningless your life really is, as long as you believe in
      God, and the afterlife, you always have an emotional out. This
      survival technique is similar to waking the instant before you
      "die" in a dream. The body startles us out of sleep to spare us
      the anguish of experiencing our own death. In that same way,
      humans embrace religion so that they do not have to face the
      totality of death without an afterlife.

      This emotional smoke screen is incredibly powerful and is capable
      of blinding even the most intelligent people from realizing the
      truth. It is therefore not surprising that the concept of proof
      is dismissed by most religions as irrelevant. They fill the gaps
      in their logic, left by the absence of proof, and replace it with
      faith. There has even been a recent tendency to call
      "Intelligent Design" the "science of the gaps". Which is kind of
      funny because the God of the Gaps argument has been discredited
      for so long.

      In regards to faith, I am in complete agreement with Bierce, he
      describes it as, " Belief without evidence in what is told by one
      who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."

      "Things without parallel" or in other words, things that cannot
      be proven. Clearly, proof is not essential to religion. In
      fact, evidentiary examination of supernatural claims has rarely
      (if ever) benefited the cause of the faithful. I have often
      heard evangelical's argue that the reason they must defend the
      inerrancy of Genesis so steadfastly, is that to allow one aspect
      of the Bible to be disproven, is to open the flood gates of doubt
      about the entire document. Thus, in order to believe the
      inerrancy of the Bible, faith must replace proof, evidence must
      be ignored, and logic must be hog tied by the absence of truth.

      In defense of faith over proof, society has granted an
      unreasonable weight of authority to faith. Faith is revered as a
      virtue while scientific skepticism is often derided as a cynical
      vice.

      Plan 9 from Outer Space: "My friends, you have seen this
      incident, based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn't
      happen?"

      Meaningless arguments like that, between skeptics and believers
      take endless circular sojourns around the relative merits of
      phrases like, "burden of proof", "extraordinary claims /
      extraordinary evidence", "prove a negative", etc. But, the
      bottom line is that the "supernatural" lies outside of nature,
      and therefore outside of proof or science. That which cannot be
      proven requires faith. Faith does not require proof, nor
      evidence, nor logic. Proof requires all of these but faith.
      Faith and proof are in essence mutually exclusive. This means
      that arguing from either position against the other will forever
      feel like a meaningless effort in futility.

      So, why bother?

      To answer that, I am borrowing (from myself) the finale of a
      comment I made on an Evangelical Atheist thread. " A small child
      that is afraid of the dark will call out to it's parents for
      protection. As adults, calling out to a non-existent imaginary
      friend in the sky might make some people feel better, but like
      the child, eventually mankind must master it's fear of the dark
      and face it alone." It is my hope, that with time, people will
      grow to value proof over faith, reason over superstition, and
      hope over fear. There is no other way I know to express this
      desire than to discuss/debate it with those that need it most.
    • Roger Anderton
      ... From: Joe (uk-ufo) McGonagle To: uuksg ; Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2005 6:36 PM
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 6, 2005
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Joe (uk-ufo) McGonagle" <joe@...>
        To: "uuksg" <ufologyinuk@...>; <ufonet@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2005 6:36 PM
        Subject: [UFOnet] Proof [over faith]


        > From www.skepticrant.com
        > http://www.skepticrant.com/2005/11/proof.html
        >
        > Proof
        >
        > Ambrose Bierce describes proof as "Evidence having a shade more
        > of plausibility than of unlikelihood. The testimony of two
        > credible witnesses as opposed to that of only one." I really
        > enjoy the writings of Bierce, and most of the time I find his
        > perceptions insightfully sardonic. But, I really don't agree
        > with him on this. Proof is about evidence not testimony. It's
        > about verifiability and repeatability not plausibility. I know
        > he was being sardonic and was perhaps commenting more on judicial
        > proof than scientific proof, but I think this illustrates why
        > skeptics are often so offended by what some people consider
        > proof. If 100 people claim to see a UFO, that does not prove
        > that they saw extraterrestrial life. It only proves that 100
        > people saw something in the sky. UFO proponents are insistent
        > that extraterrestrial life is visiting earth. Well, if that is
        > true, then the proof is out there, and I, for one, would really
        > like to see it.
        >
        > UFO religions are not that much different than believing in more
        > traditional God systems, and they are valued for the same
        > reasons. If you believe that extraterrestrial life is visiting
        > Earth, then life is not limited to what we see around us. If
        > extraterrestrials are visiting Earth then there must be more to
        > existence then our little lives. This is a powerful hope,
        > because for reasons I do not understand, existence itself is
        > insufficient reason for amazement to most people. Personally, I
        > am amazed everyday by my existence. I can't think of anything
        > more astounding than waking up every day and finding that I am
        > still alive and that the Earth continues to spin. These are not
        > things that should be taken for granted. They should be embraced
        > and exalted. Still most people are emotionally greedy, they want
        > more, life is not enough, they want "purpose". Rather than look
        > to themselves for that purpose they look beyond this world and
        > create unattainable purposes. Why would people want an
        > unattainable purpose? Because, if your purpose is unattainable,
        > i.e. not of this world or this life, then you can never be
        > disappointed.
        >
        > That is really what faith and religion is all about, creating a
        > world view that is impossible to achieve so that you never have
        > to face ultimate failure. No matter how crappy, insignificant,
        > or meaningless your life really is, as long as you believe in
        > God, and the afterlife, you always have an emotional out. This
        > survival technique is similar to waking the instant before you
        > "die" in a dream. The body startles us out of sleep to spare us
        > the anguish of experiencing our own death. In that same way,
        > humans embrace religion so that they do not have to face the
        > totality of death without an afterlife.
        >
        > This emotional smoke screen is incredibly powerful and is capable
        > of blinding even the most intelligent people from realizing the
        > truth. It is therefore not surprising that the concept of proof
        > is dismissed by most religions as irrelevant. They fill the gaps
        > in their logic, left by the absence of proof, and replace it with
        > faith. There has even been a recent tendency to call
        > "Intelligent Design" the "science of the gaps". Which is kind of
        > funny because the God of the Gaps argument has been discredited
        > for so long.
        >
        > In regards to faith, I am in complete agreement with Bierce, he
        > describes it as, " Belief without evidence in what is told by one
        > who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."
        >
        > "Things without parallel" or in other words, things that cannot
        > be proven. Clearly, proof is not essential to religion. In
        > fact, evidentiary examination of supernatural claims has rarely
        > (if ever) benefited the cause of the faithful. I have often
        > heard evangelical's argue that the reason they must defend the
        > inerrancy of Genesis so steadfastly, is that to allow one aspect
        > of the Bible to be disproven, is to open the flood gates of doubt
        > about the entire document. Thus, in order to believe the
        > inerrancy of the Bible, faith must replace proof, evidence must
        > be ignored, and logic must be hog tied by the absence of truth.
        >
        > In defense of faith over proof, society has granted an
        > unreasonable weight of authority to faith. Faith is revered as a
        > virtue while scientific skepticism is often derided as a cynical
        > vice.
        >
        > Plan 9 from Outer Space: "My friends, you have seen this
        > incident, based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn't
        > happen?"
        >
        > Meaningless arguments like that, between skeptics and believers
        > take endless circular sojourns around the relative merits of
        > phrases like, "burden of proof", "extraordinary claims /
        > extraordinary evidence", "prove a negative", etc. But, the
        > bottom line is that the "supernatural" lies outside of nature,
        > and therefore outside of proof or science. That which cannot be
        > proven requires faith. Faith does not require proof, nor
        > evidence, nor logic. Proof requires all of these but faith.
        > Faith and proof are in essence mutually exclusive. This means
        > that arguing from either position against the other will forever
        > feel like a meaningless effort in futility.
        >
        > So, why bother?
        >
        > To answer that, I am borrowing (from myself) the finale of a
        > comment I made on an Evangelical Atheist thread. " A small child
        > that is afraid of the dark will call out to it's parents for
        > protection. As adults, calling out to a non-existent imaginary
        > friend in the sky might make some people feel better, but like
        > the child, eventually mankind must master it's fear of the dark
        > and face it alone." It is my hope, that with time, people will
        > grow to value proof over faith, reason over superstition, and
        > hope over fear. There is no other way I know to express this
        > desire than to discuss/debate it with those that need it most.
        >
        >
        >
        Load of rubbish. If one person wants to interpret things by a belief in God
        and another person wants to interpret it by not believing in God, there is
        no proof that can be shown to either of them to make them change their
        minds, if they don't want to change their minds.
      • Joe McGonagle
        Hello Roger, I thought that the article made several good points, including: In defense of faith over proof, society has granted an unreasonable weight
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 6, 2005
          Hello Roger,

          I thought that the article made several good points, including:

          <snip>

          In defense of faith over proof, society has granted an
          unreasonable weight of authority to faith. Faith is revered as
          a virtue while scientific skepticism is often derided as a
          cynical vice.

          <snip>

          Meaningless arguments like that, between skeptics and believers
          take endless circular sojourns around the relative merits of
          phrases like, "burden of proof", "extraordinary claims /
          extraordinary evidence", "prove a negative", etc. But, the
          bottom line is that the "supernatural" lies outside of nature,
          and therefore outside of proof or science. That which cannot
          be proven requires faith. Faith does not require proof, nor
          evidence, nor logic. Proof requires all of these but faith.
          Faith and proof are in essence mutually exclusive. This means
          that arguing from either position against the other will
          forever feel like a meaningless effort in futility.

          <snip>

          > Load of rubbish. If one person wants to interpret
          > things by a belief in God and another person wants to
          > interpret it by not believing in God, there is no
          > proof that can be shown to either of them to make them
          > change their minds, if they don't want to change their
          > minds.

          Which is exactly the point that the autor was making, I thought?

          Joe
        • Roger Anderton
          ... From: Joe McGonagle To: Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 1:23 AM Subject: Re: [UFOnet] Proof [over faith] ...
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 7, 2005
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Joe McGonagle" <joe@...>
            To: <ufonet@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 1:23 AM
            Subject: Re: [UFOnet] Proof [over faith]


            > Hello Roger,
            >
            > I thought that the article made several good points, including:
            >
            > <snip>
            >
            > In defense of faith over proof, society has granted an
            > unreasonable weight of authority to faith. Faith is revered as
            > a virtue while scientific skepticism is often derided as a
            > cynical vice.
            >
            > <snip>

            Society is composed of lots of different opinions; to say "society has
            granted an
            unreasonable weight of authority to faith" is an error, part of society
            might have, but not all of society.


            >
            > Meaningless arguments like that, between skeptics and believers
            > take endless circular sojourns around the relative merits of
            > phrases like, "burden of proof", "extraordinary claims /
            > extraordinary evidence", "prove a negative", etc. But, the
            > bottom line is that the "supernatural" lies outside of nature,
            > and therefore outside of proof or science. That which cannot
            > be proven requires faith. Faith does not require proof, nor
            > evidence, nor logic. Proof requires all of these but faith.
            > Faith and proof are in essence mutually exclusive. This means
            > that arguing from either position against the other will
            > forever feel like a meaningless effort in futility.
            >
            > <snip>
            >

            Saying that a certain phenomenon is supernatural and that "supernatural lies
            outside of nature,
            and therefore outside of proof or science" is a way of dismissing the
            phenomenon from scientific investigation, when really everything should be
            subject to scientific investigation.



            >> Load of rubbish. If one person wants to interpret
            >> things by a belief in God and another person wants to
            >> interpret it by not believing in God, there is no
            >> proof that can be shown to either of them to make them
            >> change their minds, if they don't want to change their
            >> minds.
            >
            > Which is exactly the point that the autor was making, I thought?
            >
            > Joe

            Not quite.
            Roger
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