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Thread: Two Ways of Seeking Truth

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    Default Two Ways of Seeking Truth

    I assert that there are two principal methods for seeking truth. These methods are highly relevant to this forum. The first is the scientific method. The second is faith. Both methods have a place in life to help us find truth.

    Most of us know what the scientific method is all about. It is a process of seeking truth that emphasizes reasoning, experimentation, and repetition. In junior high and high school, I memorized the “five steps of the scientific method” and I was supposed to use them in my science classes. Now in upper-level university physics classes and research, we never talk about the scientific method, but we abide by its principles every day as we seek to uncover the truth about this world we live in.

    The scientific method is a way of seeking and drawing near to truth, but not a method that actually reaches truth. At no point in the scientific method can one say “okay, we have tested this enough times now that we know for sure that this is true in every possible circumstance.” There are some things we have a pretty good idea about. Evolution, relativity, and quantum mechanics are all examples of ideas that have been applied many times to the real world, and have been able to consistently explain what happens around us.

    The scientific method has gotten us humans a long way in terms of knowledge we possess about phenomena in the universe. However, we are still a long way from knowing the truth about everything. When I began studying physics, I thought I was finding answers to the questions offered by the universe. However, I have come to learn that we rarely find real answers. We always take approximations and shortcuts and simplifications to the real world. The only way to really know what is going on in the universe is to calculate the quantum wave function of the entire universe all at once, but it would take a quantum computer the size of the universe to do so, and that just isn’t practical. And that method still would not include dark energy and dark matter, and who knows what else we do not yet know about. So we resort to using the scientific method to approach the truth without ever really getting there.

    Using the scientific method to approach truth is hard work. It takes generations of experiments and analysis and discussion to solidify scientific theories. We can expect that any piece of knowledge that was easy to produce is probably not very close to the truth. It takes hard work to approach truth.

    In addition to the scientific method, the way of faith is open to us for approaching truth. This is a fundamentally different method, but it also requires a great deal of work and effort to find truth. But the rewards for using this method are well worth the effort. And unlike the scientific method, there are ways to know the truth for certain through the method of faith.

    Mostly, the method of faith is used to find the most important truths. These include truths about the character of God and the purpose of life. Through all of history, the scientific method has made little progress in these areas. Using the scientific method, humans are not much closer than they were thousands of years ago to finding out the truth about God and the purpose of life. Does God exist? Does life have a purpose? What is it? These questions remain unanswered by the scientific method.

    However, the method of faith can answer these questions for any individual who is willing to put forth the effort to find the answers. By exercising faith, a person can come to a more sure knowledge of truth than he can ever come by the scientific method. Using faith, I have come to know things that I could never know without faith. I have come to know that God lives. He cares about people. He wants us to be happy, and He has a plan to help us obtain happiness.

    A friend of mine has written more about how we can know if God exists, so I will refer you to him for more on this subject. The address is http://thinkersaccord.blogspot.com/ . I recommend the post entitled "The Question of God."

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    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    I assert that there are two principal methods for seeking truth. These methods are highly relevant to this forum. The first is the scientific method. The second is faith. Both methods have a place in life to help us find truth.
    I'm just going to throw this out here now:

    Faith isn't a way of seeking truth. It's a method of preserving what one already believes. When a person of faith comes to a new realization about their faith--changing what said person believes--this is not caused by faith. This new faith wasn't arrived at through faith regardless of whatever truth there may be to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    The scientific method is a way of seeking and drawing near to truth, but not a method that actually reaches truth. At no point in the scientific method can one say “okay, we have tested this enough times now that we know for sure that this is true in every possible circumstance.”
    It is, however, a great way of determining what is not truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    Mostly, the method of faith is used to find the most important truths. These include truths about the character of God and the purpose of life.
    And how does faith reveal these truths? Because someone with faith has managed to believe something, does that make it a "truth"?

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    However, the method of faith can answer these questions for any individual who is willing to put forth the effort to find the answers. By exercising faith, a person can come to a more sure knowledge of truth than he can ever come by the scientific method.
    An answer, certainly. The correct answer? Not likely--faith is not about examining what one believes, it's merely about believing.

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    Using faith, I have come to know things that I could never know without faith. I have come to know that God lives. He cares about people. He wants us to be happy, and He has a plan to help us obtain happiness.
    And how did faith determine this? Because you've managed to believe it?

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    A friend of mine has written more about how we can know if God exists, so I will refer you to him for more on this subject. The address is http://thinkersaccord.blogspot.com/ . I recommend the post entitled "The Question of God."
    I read the one you suggested.

    “How do you know that God exists?” is a perfectly reasonable question, which I think should be asked by skeptics. I claim something greater than “I believe”. Even the wateriest agnostics can mumble these “I believe” words, but I claim more. I claim I know. To know something requires a source of knowledge.
    His supposed "source of knowledge" is personal spiritual experience. That's great and all, but it's completely useless to everyone else. It's great that by believing something you've had a personal experience justifying it (or you had a personal experience which led you to believe something) but so have people from all religions. Our brains are very capable of justifying silly things.

    As a really interesting example, look up "Capgras delusion." It's caused by injury to a very specific part of the brain. It cuts off a person's ability to have an emotional response to faces. Normally, when we see people we recognize, we have an emotional response. People with this injury do not. They justify this lack of response by believing that their friends and family have been replaced by imposters. Yet, the part of the brain that triggers emotional response to sound is unaffected. If they talk on the phone to, say, their mother, they still think that it's their mother. But if their mother walks up to them they will think it's an imposter.

    There is a whole class of drugs entitled "entheogens," because they can make a user feel like they are in God's presence or any number of other such experiences. All they're doing is changing the way certain parts of the brain work. The brain is able to do this on its own.

    Personal spiritual experience is proof of nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFT
    Personal spiritual experience is proof of nothing.
    Why do you think that?

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    Let me amend the statement: personal spiritual experience is proof only to the person that experienced it.

    Is that better?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFT
    Let me amend the statement: personal spiritual experience is proof only to the person that experienced it.

    Is that better?
    Yes, I think that's a clearer and more accurate statement.

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    I will attempt to address your points a few at a time. Here goes:

    Quote Originally Posted by FFT
    I'm just going to throw this out here now:

    Faith isn't a way of seeking truth. It's a method of preserving what one already believes. When a person of faith comes to a new realization about their faith--changing what said person believes--this is not caused by faith. This new faith wasn't arrived at through faith regardless of whatever truth there may be to it.
    I think your definition of faith is more narrow than mine is. If faith means a belief system or confidence in a belief system, than perhaps it is true that faith isn't a way of seeking truth. However, my definition of faith is much broader than that.
    Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. Alma 32:21
    Faith is hope that drives a person to action. Faith is power. Faith is a personal connection with God. Faith is a method of seeking truth. It means turning to God and getting truth directly from Him by His methods.

    Quote Originally Posted by FFT
    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    The scientific method is a way of seeking and drawing near to truth, but not a method that actually reaches truth. At no point in the scientific method can one say “okay, we have tested this enough times now that we know for sure that this is true in every possible circumstance.”
    It is, however, a great way of determining what is not truth.
    I agree with you whole-heartedly there.

    Quote Originally Posted by FFT
    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    Mostly, the method of faith is used to find the most important truths. These include truths about the character of God and the purpose of life.
    And how does faith reveal these truths? Because someone with faith has managed to believe something, does that make it a "truth"?
    This is the million dollar question, isn't it? How does faith reveal truth? I suppose, to be more accurate, I would say that God reveals truth to us through our faith. God will not distribute the most important things there are to know to just anyone. He reveals His truths to those that He knows will believe them and act on them. So to use the method of faith, one must first start to believe in God.

    I propose an experiment. Let anyone who wants to know whether or not truth can be revealed through faith first just have the slightest bit of belief in God. All one needs to do to start is simply hope that God exists. Imagine He really does exist. He is your Father in Heaven. He loves you, and He wants you to be happy. Think how great it would be if there was an all-powerful Being who cares about you very much. Don't doubt. Don't think about all of the reasons why you think He couldn't be there. Just imagine He is there. Then talk to Him in prayer. Ask Him if He is there. Listen for His answer. Be willing to put forth some work to find out the truth. In good time, God will reveal His truths to all those who seek Him.

    That will have to suffice for now. More to follow later...

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    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    I propose an experiment. Let anyone who wants to know whether or not truth can be revealed through faith first just have the slightest bit of belief in God. All one needs to do to start is simply hope that God exists. Imagine He really does exist. He is your Father in Heaven. He loves you, and He wants you to be happy. Think how great it would be if there was an all-powerful Being who cares about you very much. Don't doubt. Don't think about all of the reasons why you think He couldn't be there. Just imagine He is there. Then talk to Him in prayer. Ask Him if He is there. Listen for His answer. Be willing to put forth some work to find out the truth. In good time, God will reveal His truths to all those who seek Him.

    That will have to suffice for now. More to follow later...
    I did that experiment once. I put total faith into it. It led me to the brink of suicide. I hope you'll understand if I decline to do it again.

    I am very much not alone in that experience. It is rather common I have come to find out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    Faith is hope that drives a person to action. Faith is power. Faith is a personal connection with God. Faith is a method of seeking truth. It means turning to God and getting truth directly from Him by His methods.
    But if God doesn't exist then it's just your brain playing tricks on you.

    Faith has no way of figuring out whether God exists except believing anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    So to use the method of faith, one must first start to believe in God.
    In order to cure that knife-wound of yours, I'm going to have to give it to you first.

    This is a kind of circular reasoning. Look at the text underneath the title on every page here. Believing without any reason to is just that sort of opinion--reason is not in any way involved in the process. Once someone believes, there is very little that can convince them they are wrong. It does, of course, happen on occasion. I managed it.

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    I propose an experiment. Let anyone who wants to know whether or not truth can be revealed through faith first just have the slightest bit of belief in God. All one needs to do to start is simply hope that God exists. Imagine He really does exist. He is your Father in Heaven. He loves you, and He wants you to be happy. Think how great it would be if there was an all-powerful Being who cares about you very much. Don't doubt. Don't think about all of the reasons why you think He couldn't be there. Just imagine He is there. Then talk to Him in prayer. Ask Him if He is there. Listen for His answer. Be willing to put forth some work to find out the truth. In good time, God will reveal His truths to all those who seek Him.
    I was like this once. In between learning about how religions evolved and not actually getting any answers as to how the Abrahamic religions were really any different (and a short story by Langston Hughes) I moved on.

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    Default Re: Two Ways of Seeking Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    I assert that there are two principal methods for seeking truth. These methods are highly relevant to this forum. The first is the scientific method. The second is faith.
    There are two methods for seeking truth: the way that can be independently verified, and the way that can't. This means that there are two types of truth: independently verifiable truth and personal truth. The personal type of truth it true only for the person experiencing it, because it is not independently verifiable (ie, the scientific method is useless to examine it). This means essentially that there is the truth of the world that we all experience, and the truth that is purely and entirely in one's head.

    How is that different from schizophrenia?

    Quote Originally Posted by God-fearing Physicist
    I propose an experiment. Let anyone who wants to know whether or not truth can be revealed through faith first just have the slightest bit of belief in God. All one needs to do to start is simply hope that God exists. Imagine He really does exist. He is your Father in Heaven. He loves you, and He wants you to be happy. Think how great it would be if there was an all-powerful Being who cares about you very much. Don't doubt. Don't think about all of the reasons why you think He couldn't be there. Just imagine He is there. Then talk to Him in prayer. Ask Him if He is there. Listen for His answer. Be willing to put forth some work to find out the truth. In good time, God will reveal His truths to all those who seek Him.
    In other words, stop thinking, stop analysing, stop criticising and just give up all of your independent thought and intelligence. Don't question, don't investigate, because thinking for oneself is detrimental. Stop being a thinking human being and just give yourself up to your inner robot.

    Please. Don't patronise me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by admin
    I did that experiment once. I put total faith into it. It led me to the brink of suicide. I hope you'll understand if I decline to do it again.

    I am very much not alone in that experience. It is rather common I have come to find out.
    I am very sorry to hear of your experience. What you went through must have been very difficult. And yes, I understand if you decline to do it again.

    I come from the other side of the spectrum, and I have seen many others who have had a similar experience. I tried the experiment to find God, and it has brought me much joy in my life. I have felt to rejoice for the knowledge of God and His plan for His children. I firmly believe that God exists.

    It is interesting to me to see such variation in the results of the same experiment. This experiment has been carried out throughout history, and has led many different people to conclude many different things about God and the purpose of life. And yet I believe that there is universal truth out there for everyone to find. Either there is a God who possesses the character that I think He has, or there is not. He exists or He doesn't. My experience has brought me to the belief that God does exist, but I can understand how others have experiences that lead them to believe otherwise.

    It has been easy for me to find meaning in life with the belief in God that I have. This life is a continuation of a previous life and leads seamlessly to a future life for all people. I am genuinely curious to know how you have come to find meaning in life since the result of the experiment which you have mentioned. You must have found meaning in life and that is why you are still here. I am excited to learn what you have discovered. Thanks for sharing insight into your way of thinking. I look forward to continuing to better understand one another.

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