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Discussion 15 to Meditation 832
Standards of rationality

by: Rev. Dr. Incitatus

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It's like our own Council of Nicea, here.

I think we've come to a resolution, but I had to respond to this comment by Christian,

"Shouldn't we be bound to a higher standard of rationality than a religion? If that is what you actually want to say with the First Article (i.e. sarcasm) then we are not apart - I am just quibbling with your wording, which could be clearer. But the existence of an objectively unknowable being is logically impossible..."

Christian, if you're imagining that deductive logic should be the benchmark when it comes to tackling truths you're holding yourself and others to an impractically high standard. The vast majority of our technological advances have arisen from what is basically a more refined version of the same inductive reasoning that underlies the belief systems of every superstition from Cargo Cults to Christianity; the only difference is in the rigorousness of evidential requirements (and an appreciation for probability) and the investigator's ability to admit when a proposition previously held to be true is actually wrong, regardless of the authority that initially expressed it.

Deductive logic is largely the domain of mathematics, and is actually not terribly informative anyway (i.e. tautological).

So, that the rational standard of our first article of faith is not deductively concrete is besides the point; it merely has to reside on a firmer inductive grounding than statements like, "There is a good and living God, who sent his one and only Son to die for our sins" when it comes to living and making decisions.

Referring to it as a 'faith' gives it dual function as 1) satire, but also 2) a preemptive disclaimer that it isn't an absolute truth.

On a related matter, scientists do like to avoid words such as 'faith' when describing our work, but only because of the obvious religious connotations. In reality, our work requires a tremendous amount of faith, whether it be in the accuracy of our instrumentation and its observations, or our proposed models drawing conclusions and making predictions based on those observations.