Do you believe in God? Part III: Reasons to believe.

This is the third and last post of this series dedicated to “God(s)”. Nothing better than being in a Christian country during Easter holidays to see how strong this feeling of belief is naturally strong among us humans.

Last week, here in Spain, you could see movies on the TV repeating over and over the stories of Moses, Mary, Jesus and all biblical historic-mythological characters that sustain Jewish and Christian religions.

Because of that, I caught myself thinking about how we humans make so much effort to believe in those mythological mind structures. That was how I remembered one of the latest visits to my father in Galicia, in northwestern Spain. He loves geography and geology but spent the last years studying everything he can.

Well, it was during one of those visits that we started talking about Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914). Peirce was a chemist and philosopher, “founder” of pragmatism and semiotics, among other amazing philosophical thoughts (Check it out at Wikipedia).

Charles Sanders Peirce in 1859.

Charles Sanders Peirce in 1859.

According to Peirce, our thoughts mix together stages of belief and skepticism (doubt, questioning). The discomfort of doubt makes us naturally to search for the comfort of belief (his texts are truly works of art, read it for free in here: The Fixation of Belief).

Peirce identified 4 methods in which belief can replace doubt. Three methods were said to be rational methods, methods that depend merely on human reasoning: individual tenacity (trust in one’s established beliefs), authority coercion (an institutionalized kind of “believe or get out of here!”) and a priori (based on pre-existing concepts or fashionable thoughts of one’s era).

The forth method he named the method of experimentation, or the scientific method, where our pre-concepts have little or no influence over the object of belief. According to Peirce, we humans tend to prefer this method of fixing belief, because it allows the testing of hypotheses against demonstrable public observations.

Unfortunately, the scientific method is also developed through the constant and extensive use of the other three rational methods, making it less trustful than we would like it to be. Actually, in my father’s opinion, scientific abstractions, based on things that can’t be found in nature, can be considered as dangerous as religious thoughts if taken without the proper sense of critical reflection.

After all, the concepts behind the number zero, the infinite, the circle, the straight line, the average and all other scientific constants unseen in nature are nothing more than rationalized “scientific” beliefs.

Here is where we reach an interesting “conclusion” point in this mini 3-post debate: if you are the kind of person that believe in God(s) or the kind of person that believe in Science, in fact, you are not so far away from each other as it may appear :-).

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