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Friday, 11 December 2009

Knowing & Believing

Don't laugh, please. Well, I won't know if you do.

What is Credible? What is Knowable? What do I Know? What do I Believe?

The class of ‘facts’ (F1) that I claim to know includes among many:
That today is Friday.
That I have a British passport.
That I ate pork tonight.
That I’d like to have more money than I have.
That blue paint mixed with yellow paint will give me green paint.

Of course, I may be lying here or I may be deluded.

F2 facts include:
The Earth revolves around the Sun.
Distilled water in an open vessel at sea level boils at approximately 100 deg Celsius.
No human being has lived to be 200 years old, so far.
All living beings have DNA.

These facts I have on authority. Perhaps I am being gullible. There is scarcely any difference in the degree of certainty with which I ‘know’ F1 facts and F2 facts.

F3 facts include:
The Sun will rise tomorrow morning.
Communism always involves oppression.

You could shake my certainty about F3 facts by, for example, convincing me that a moon sized meteor is going to hit the Earth tonight or that genetic modification of human beings will create a benign communist society. All the same, the difference in the degree of certainty with which I ‘know’ F1 facts, F2 facts and F3 facts is minute.

What do I Believe?
The class of ‘beliefs’ (B1) in which my confidence is 90%+ include:
That space, matter/energy and time were created in the Big Bang (some appeal to authority here).
That, therefore, Something outside space and time caused the Big Bang.
That because all living beings have DNA, all living beings are in some sense related.
That generosity is absolutely morally superior to selfishness (up to 99.999% here).

Is there a disconnect between F1, F2, F3, on one hand, and B1, on the other?

The great thing about publishing a blog is that you can do this sort of thing. I'm not trying to convince anyone here. I'm just asking.

Another time I may well try to convince you that there is more to reality than space, matter/energy and time.

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