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A Philosophy of Discovery and A Philosophy of Ignorance: Faith and Feelings, and Reason and Empiricism


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/28

*A tip of the hat to the distinction of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson from years and years ago.*

Feelings retain a particular descriptive capacity about personal experience spoken about by the religious, which is taken as a form of evidence: “experience of the Holy Spirit in my life” or “witness of the Holy Ghost in my Christ-centered life.”

The feelings are taken as evidence. Faith is belief without evidence. I don’t think it’s coherent. But that’s the reasoning. Faith in the Bible, certainly, is without evidence.

Some point to Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Harun Yahya, Velikovsky, and others. But few take them seriously. Some have criminal histories if that speaks to intellectual honesty if not general honest and above-board behaviour.

The moment empirical evidence enters the equation: it becomes non-faith. The second reason or logic enters the equation: it becomes rational by definition.

Thus, faith, properly understood, is precisely belief without evidence, which is calling non-empirical its antonym. Take, for example, the ‘faith’ in the Sun “rising” tomorrow.

There is lots of statistical-empirical evidence in support of it, not a feeling or a faith. Take it this way, looking at the mass of evidence and using logic, the Sun is more likely to rise tomorrow than not. I do not have a feeling it will rise tomorrow or faith in its rising tomorrow. Big differences.

I can see the Sun, repeatedly over time, can predict its re-arising, and — lo and behold — the Sun rises. Not nameless people. Again, faith is belief without evidence. Any evidence means degrees of empiricism, degrees of evidence, not degrees of faith. Faith is the binary, “You just gotta believe.” Question: why?

Some faithful have an odd counter with distrust in the reportage of living scientists in the 21st century and working models of the world while also trusting purported dead people from over 20 centuries ago who may or may not have existed telling conflicting stories in a collection of books translated from three ancient languages into modern English with assertions of creation of man from dirt/mud & woman from rib and a bush on fire that talks without vocal chords and a brain (and so on).

Science is empiricism. Empiricism is about physical-material observables, evidence. Faith is about lack of evidence. The Sun as an example is relevant. It presents non-faith without reference to experts.

To experts, in the odd skepticism, if consistent, then it should apply to the Bible, even more so based on the above-mentioned extraordinary claims or points. However, it would undermine faith in the Bible.

Science is not faith either. It amounts to consideration of the massive convergence of evidence plus the theories to explain them. An example of faith: 1) The contents of the Bible are irrefutable and absolutely true. 2) Why? 3) Because the Bible says so. No reference to evidence, simply takes the book on faith.

An example of non-faith without reference to experts: 1) The Sun keeps rising every day of my life. 2) The physical observation of a lifetime of the Sun rising morning after morning. 3) The high likelihood is the Sun rising tomorrow. Does this “do away with faith”? By definition, yes.

Or, in terms of an argument, faith, in monotheistic religions on the origin of life, says, “God did it,” or, “A supreme higher intelligence with property aseity did it.” That’s, as we all know, creationism. Not all monotheistic interpretations but a significant portion.

Non-faith says, “We have biological categories, kin selection, sex selection, natural selection, genomes passed down through successive generations with copying errors, punctuated equilibrium, transitional fossils, various forms of radiometric dating methods, and sedimentary layers and ancient fossil remains, all convergent in a common tree of life. Here’s how these break down empirically.”

There is a sincere attempt at the collection of physical observances and unification of the evidence into a single theory.

The standard, as per the odd skepticism from before, response, “How can you trust those scientists?” Yet, this is not applied to the Bible. If consistent, the level of undue skepticism would be applied to the Bible as well.

But it’s not; so, if that’s not done, I can’t take the wafer critiques of many seriously, because it is inconsistent skepticism. I see why, too. It would undermine the entire enterprise of faith in the Bible or other supposedly holy (but, certainly, at times beautiful) texts.

The arguments can, maybe, be summarized as philosophies. One looks to a faith and feelings. Another to empiricism and reason. The faith and feelings amount to a philosophy of personal assertion or ignorance, not knowing but simply believing; the empiricism and reason not as a philosophy of knowledge necessarily but of discovery.

So, a philosophy of ignorance versus discovery.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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