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Reason and Belief

Uploaded by Piesang on Sep 08, 2002

Human beings have all sorts of beliefs. The way in which they arrive at them varies from reasoned argument to blind faith. Some beliefs are based from personal experience, others on education, and others indoctrination. Many beliefs are no doubt innate: we are born with as a result of evolutionary factors. Some beliefs we feel we can justify, others we hold because of gut feelings.

Obviously many of our beliefs are wrong, either because they are incoherent, or because they conflict with other beliefs, or with facts. Two thousand years ago, in Ancient Greece, the first systematic attempt was made to establish some sort of common ground for belief. Some Greek Philosophers sought a means to formalize human reasoning by providing unassailable rules of logical deduction. By adhering to agreed procedures of rational argument, these philosophers hoped to remove the muddle, misunderstandings and disputes that characterize human conflictions. The ultimate goal, to arrive at a set of assumptions, or axioms: self evident truths which all reasonable men and women accept to resolute conflict.

It has been said this goal was never attained ever if it were possible. The modern world is plagued by a greater diversity of beliefs than ever, many of them eccentric or even dangerous, and rational argument is regarded by a majority of people as a pointless sophism (false argument) Only In Mathematics and Science have ideals of Greek philosophers been upheld.

When it comes to addressing the really deep issues of existence, such as the origin and meaning of the universe, the place of human beings in the world and the structure of organization in nature, there is a strong temptation to retreat into unreasoned belief. Even scientist are not immune from this. There has been a long and respectable history of rational analysis. But ask yourself how far can reason take us? Can we rely on science to answer ultimate questions of existence or will we smack dead into a impenetrable mystery at some stage?

Throughout history all cultures have marveled at the beauty of the physical universe. It is the only mathematical culture made to be systematic to the study of nature and the universe, our place within. It can blind us leading us to take for granted that our existence is rational in an ordered cosmos. Among the more ambitious goals of such reflections is the possibility that we might formulate a theory of everything as...

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Uploaded by:   Piesang

Date:   09/08/2002

Category:   Religion

Length:   3 pages (593 words)

Views:   1302

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