Re: virus: Science and faith

Eric Boyd (
Thu, 11 Feb 1999 14:45:26 -0500


From: Reed Konsler <> <<
I think it does. It's a dillema of human nature. To get even a tenious grasp on culture we, as children, have to accept everything on faith...this is one of Dawkins main points in his "Virus of the Mind" essay. If we are indoctrinated scientists, then we have a tendency to accept without thinking "what scientists say". Same with religion. It's not a religion thing or a science's a human thing, a consequence of our mortal bodies and the material definition of our existence.

This is a very interesting point. From an evolutationary prespective, it makes sense that children are a little more "absorbant" of knowledge than adults, but I think your wrong about "having" to accept everything on faith[1]. Given enough time, it's pretty clear to me that one could sit down and rationally / emperically demonstrate all of the major discoveries of science; what you're claiming is that the average childhood is too short (or too full of other things) for that to occur, correct? And as a result, some children accept -- *without evidence* -- the purported truths of science and society.

I don't think that's inevidable, in fact I suspect that such a strategy is more of a tradition (perhaps inherited from the schools beginnings with the church) in our culture than it needs to be. I know, from my own childhood, that most of the time I spent in school was wasted. Put to better use, that time could easily have accomplished far more while using less "trust".

[1] This use of the word is exactly an example of the ambiguity I talked about in the last message. You could mean "trust", which wouldn't be that bad (there are acceptable conditions for argument from authority), or you could mean "without evidence", which is slightly worse, or you could mean that the knowledge becomes an intrentched belief (dogma) of the child, which is, of course, terrible. I think you mean the second, but only becuase the context here is science. If we were talking of religion, it would be very difficult to tell.