Faith in the Scientific Method

Refreshing piece in New Humanist from scientist Mark Lorch, about whom I know no more that this piece. I could have written the conclusion myself:

Basically, there’s no single logical explanation for why induction works: it just does. Which means I’m left with the belief that induction works without the sound evidence to support it, i.e. I have faith in the scientific method. This realisation made me stop worrying about how people can hold religious faith and scientific beliefs simultaneously. It demonstrated to me that faith and evidence-based beliefs coexist in my mind, so in a way, I am no different from my fellow scientists who have faith in the miracles of theologies. This realisation has made me no more inclined to believe in a god. But it has given me a better understanding of religious beliefs by demonstrating that, without ever realising it, I too have a deeply-seated faith in my own (scientific) belief system.

Naturally it has sprouted a thread of predictable responses. Problem for archetypal scientists is acknowledging the concepts of faith or belief. Notice no-one said “blind-faith” – this is very much eyes-open faith, the best kind. It’s really not difficult to recognise science as a (very good and very powerful) belief system and move on to more important questions and dialogues.

One thought on “Faith in the Scientific Method”

  1. Hmm.

    As you know, I have faith – but by no means ‘blind-faith’ – in the simple reality of ‘natural inclusion’ as ‘the mutual inclusion of space and energy as receptive and informative presences in all natural phenomena’. Yet, when I describe my faith in this reality and its pervasive implications for human understanding, and give my scientific reasons for it, I meet with enormous resistance, not least from those who express their faith in the scientific method. What objection could the latter raise, and why? Quite commonly the resistance is expressed either as an attack on my personality, credibility or intelligibility. An example of the difference between an open-minded and doctrinaire response can be found at

    What does my faith in and explication of ‘natural inclusion’ have to do with anything other than how we naturally are in the world as it naturally is, regardless of personality, colour or creed? What stops people accepting it simply and honestly as consistent with our actual experience of living and as making consistent natural sense, without paradox?

    And here, I suppose, is where the crunch comes. To accept the reality of natural inclusion does require a willingness to combine the knowledge that comes to us through our sensory experience with a form of reasoning that is consistent with that experience. This has always been how I understand and approach the truly impartial endeavour of honest, natural science – an endeavour which, in itself, has no antipathy to any truthful understanding of reality, but cannot accept what is inconsistent with our actual experience as truthful.

    It is when that willingness to enquire honestly into the nature of reality goes missing, for one reason or another, that prejudice replaces it. All inquiry is then restricted by what is considered desirable or undesirable a priori. Ideologies and idealisms emerge. Whole ways of thinking are founded on these ideologies and idealisms, and their associated value systems and judgments, which themselves are never called into question. Different ideologies and idealisms can and do form the basis for extraordinary human conflict. But they are never based on acceptance of natural inclusion as the mutual inclusion of space and energy as receptive and informative presences in all natural phenomena, BECAUSE SUCH ACCEPTANCE IS ANATHEMA TO THEIR A PRIORI JUDGMENTS (PREJUDICE).

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