Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How Secularists Find Truth

Yesterday I discussed why faith is dangerous. Today I shall look at an alternative to faith as a means of establishing truth. This alternative is fact. According to this way of establishing truth you cannot have truth without proof and you cannot have proof without fact. By using fact as the basis for truth one avoids the problem of not being able to deal with reality faced by the faithful.

Fact based truth is the kind of truth discovered by science. The scientist observes nature and gathers facts concerning it. These facts are used to form an hypothesis. New facts are gathered in order to test the hypothesis. If the hypothesis explains the facts the hypothesis is confirmed and becomes a theory. The theory is considered true until facts are discovered which cannot be explained by the theory. At this point the theory is revised until it fits all the known facts.

As one can see this is a far different method of establishing truth than that used by religious people. But it has a very serious flaw, one that makes its use by believers in traditional religion next to impossible. If there are no facts there is no proof. If there is no proof there is no truth. Since there is no proof for such basic principles of traditional religion as the existence of God those who declare fact is the only basis for truth are forced to conclude God does not exist. Indeed virtually none of the dogma of any traditional religion has a factual basis. So societies that decide to base truth upon proof and proof upon fact find they must reduce religion to a purely personal matter and act in public as if God did not exist.

This method of establishing truth is quite effective. We now know far more about reality than we did before we began establishing truth in this way. We can manipulate reality far more successfully than we did previously. Modern technological society is based on science. This means modern society is based on the idea truth requires proof and proof requires fact. And since a society, which concludes truth, requires proof and proof requires fact has no reason to conclude God exists such a society will push traditional religion to the margins. It will become secular.

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