Ch1 L47: Beliefs – part XXI (On science)

  1. In the previous posts [1], we discussed that as an infant we thought what we did (mainly crying) solved our problems. Then we grew up a bit and realized that without our parents we couldn’t survive. We noticed that there’s a nice correlation between the infant-hood, then the magic era and the childhood and the religion era [2]. Eventually, we have to take responsibility for our life, knowing that we will fail sometimes but we will move forward. Adulthood can be assimilated into the science era.
  2. The belief [3] fabricated by the science era is the synthesis of both former beliefs. Certain rules are governing the universe (the religious ideology) which can be discovered and controlled to our advantage (the magic belief). So, we can see a continuum here and I’d like to say that without passing through the magic and religion stages, we couldn’t have leaped to the science era.
  3. The science era can also be conceptually and almost chronologically correlated to Renaissance [4] which was adopting the old masters’ style (the Greek and Roman) to paint or sculpt [5] since scientists rediscovered the important message of the magic era as well.
  4. While teaching bivariate statistics, my opening question is “what’s the difference between the two following statements? God changes everything, and Force changes everything.”
  5. If we divide thinking into three hierarchical stages of why, how and what, at the first stage, the statements are equivalent. Both are answers to the question “What causes changes?”. You can name it God, Nature, Force or anything else.
  6. However, the answer to the second question will make a difference. “How does God or force change things?” According to religion, God works in mysterious ways. Can it solve our problems? Not. Because we can’t predict God’s plans or actions. On the other hand, we can formulate the relationship between Force and change [6] and it would enable us to precisely predict at what moment Curiosity [7] would land on Mars.
Curiosity landing on Mars
  1. Rudolf Carnap [8], in “An introduction to the philosophy of science” [9] has stated that a scientific statement must explain the mechanism (causality) [10] and predict the effect [11].
  2. This is the most important achievement of science. It enables us to predict. We started our journey from knowing that we fight Death (dangers/problems) [12]; thus predicting them increases our chance of survival.
  3. Religion has an answer to the third question “Why does God change things?” Because he loves us which could be easily derived from parental love. It’s very important to know that our social brain weighs intentions in the evaluation of an outcome. Your reaction to someone who stepped on your toes would be different if it happened accidentally or deliberately. In an experiment, some experimentees were asked to play a game against computers and the other against people. Both groups were cheated but the first group felt less upset because they knew that the computer had been programmed to cheat and there was no intention [13].
  4. So, if we believe that God’s intentions are good, we can relatively easily bear the pain of loss, failure, or damages. That’s another reason that religion acts like a painkiller [14]. On the contrary, we don’t know the answer to “Why does force change everything?” yet [15] which is very unsettling. Besides, as we discussed before, the notion of God can terminate the indefinite causal chain [16], nevertheless, we keep asking what causes force and if we find the answer, we’ll go back one step further and ask what causes that thing.
  5. What we’ve achieved so far is caused by being aware of our mortality [17]. Compared to other species we’ve strived harder (not necessarily physically) to solve this problem to turn off the alarm [18]. In the first post, we also talked about minergy [19], our tendency to spend minimum energy to get things done. As I said before, the necessity of action must be justified to the brain, so it would release energy. So, we need to find the answer to the question “Why do we live?” or “Why should I try to survive?”.
  6. The true answer could be terrifying to many people: we don’t know yet. We could be created by God so he could love us, caused by an accident, evolved in a petri dish of other entities to do some research on us or any other plausible scenarios. However, these are all imaginary ideas. The objective part of life that we might take for granted is living and the fact that so far we have evolutionarily defeated Death (we haven’t got extinct), makes life more beautiful, in my opinion. One day, we or coming generations might unravel the mystery of life, but there’s no need to waste our limited thus precious time fearing Death.
  7. For those who are afraid of Death or not confident enough to deal with problems by themselves, believing in God or the afterlife is necessary. That’s why I don’t agree with atheists’ debates, trying to convince the religious to lose their faith. I see faith as stabilizers that kids need to ride their bikes. As soon as they grow up enough to realize that they can even ride without the stabilizers, you can remove them. It is very dangerous to detach them earlier because if the kid falls from the bike, they might be traumatized and refuse to give biking another try.
  8. For a baby Kangaroo, it’s a great moment to jump out of its mother’s pouch forever.

Footnotes:

[1] Link to the previous post.

[2] In the 30th post, we borrowed Sir James Frazer’s insightful categories of cognitive development based on different approaches to causality: magic, religion, and science era. Link

[3] As you can infer from the title of the post, we’ve been studying beliefs for a long time. Here’s the link to the first post if you’re interested to follow the story. Link

[4] Link to the wiki page about Renaissance

[5] Sir Ernst Gombrich, in “The Story of Art” [Link] has mentioned that the nature of Renaissance means rebirth or revival “The word Renaissance means rebirth or revival, and the idea of such a rebirth had gained ground in Italy ever since the time of Giotto. When people of the period wanted to praise a poet or an artist, they said that his work was as good as that of the ancients. Giotto had been exalted in this way as a master who had led to a true revival of art; by this, people meant that his art was as good as that of the famous masters whose work they found praised in the classical Greek and Roman writers. It is not surprising that this idea became popular in Italy. The Italians were very much aware of the fact that in distant past Italy, with Rome her capital, had been the center of the civilized world, and that her power and glory had waned since the Germanic tribes, Goths, and Vandals, had invaded the country and broken up the Roman Empire. The idea of a revival was closely connected in the minds of the Italians with the idea of a rebirth of ‘the grandeur that was Rome’. The period between the classical age, to which they looked back with pride, and the new era of rebirth for which they hoped, was merely a sad interlude, ‘The Time Between’. Thus the idea of rebirth or renaissance was responsible for the idea that the intervening period was a Middle Age—and we still use this terminology.”

[6] There are different types of forces that either displace or deform things. However, historically speaking, the most famous formulae about force have been proposed by Sir Isaac Newton [Link] as Newton’s laws of motion [Link].

[7] Link

[8] Link to the Wiki page about Carnap

[9] Link

[10] We opened up the discussion about causality in the 29th post. Link

[11] I didn’t quote what Carnap said because I read the book around 16 years ago and I just remembered its barebones which formed the foundation of my thinking.

[12] Link to the first post, the beginning of our journey

[13] This kind of experiment is done in the field of game theory [Link] which studies our ways of solving problems in a group. You can also refer to “A Beautiful Math: John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature (Mathematics)” [Link]

[14] In several posts, we discussed how believing in God or revival can alleviate the fear of Death. So, it works like a painkiller. [Link]

[15] For example, we don’t know why gravity exists or what causes gravity.

[16] You can again refer to the post about causality. Link

[17] We discussed it in the 39th post. Link

[18] We talked about the role of fear in several posts, starting from the 3rd post. Link

[19] Again Link to the first post.

The featured image is taken from the following website:

Link

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