#270…SCIENCE, RELIGION, ETC.: “Reliability, and Authority”


How good is your source?


For our response, use the DOOR.





   It’s your call . . . entirely.



   That’s the simple truth.

   Everyone “moves ahead” subconsciously or consciously by regularly asking (in one way or another 3 important  reflective questions¹) What is?  What matters? and Then what should I do? With the first one we essentially built up, and often modify, what we know. With the second, we decide what part of what we know affects us. And with the third, we determine how to use our time, how we should think, and how we should act.  There are 5 ways to do this:

1.  By instinct

2.  By what we’ve personally experienced

3.  By what we’ve generally heard from others

4.  By what information we’ve read, or heard aloud, from people or sources we think are reliable.

5.  By using Wikipedia [?]

   Make no mistake: People come up with widely different ways of moving ahead. There’s a lot we really don’t know. Too much really. We have to choose carefully from what piles we pick things out of. Remembering that people can come at real information from very different directions.

   We seek to make the best of things by [#1, above] getting acceptable food, keeping warm enough; [#2] not touching the stove again, or getting too close to the edge, or not walking alone in dark urban alleyways; [#3] taking a certain recommended shortcut to avoid traffic, or sending our kids to such-and-such  school, or attending such-and-such church; [#4] studying technical manuals or scholarly research, or reading, or hearing, popular  summaries made by people we trust; [#5] by using an everybody source and a keyboard.

   In each and case above we exercise faith² in the experience or source. And there’s no guarantee that our faith will deliver. Please don’t let that sound too disturbing. We can learn just so much firsthand. That calls for a lot of second handing, third handing, and so on.

   Often I’ve heard, or felt the implication of, someone saying, “I can go by science, not religion,” or “I need proof in something I can see, not just belief in something I can’t see or describe logically.” Much, of course, can be said about superficial religion edging someone edging us off life’s sidewalk by figments with feet³.

   The point here is that everything science and life experience informs us about comes by “faith in some source.” When we depend upon (macro) science for many things, we exercise faith in the regularity, consistency, repeatability, the “forever total package” of some amount of measurable matter and energy. Much more dicey is going deeper into the underground world of (micro) science where the “free-spirited” tiniest bits of everything don’t play by familiar–or even understandable–rules.

   Of course, our faith in what seems like the best science, or whatever, can sometimes be found to be faulty.  If so, and the error disturbs your curious and restless mind, then it’s back to the drawing board for better understanding.

   Oh yes, Wikipedia… This new and almost magical source can usually point you to the barn that backs up the archery contest, and often is the backdrop of the target. But as for the desired bullseye, don’t be afraid of digging past the words of the anonymous somebody who brought you to the barn.  Don’t stop there, or paint a bull’s eye around where your arrow hits the “broad side of its door.” That’s creating a figment. Open the door and go inside.

   In summary, there are “good reliable sources,” “bad, unreliable sources,” and “no known sources.” The computer doesn’t worry about this.

   That’s your job. At adozenseconds.com–usually–we take pains to say where things come from.

   We won’t do that very well in our next post, however, when we examine how a prominent Philadelphia statue was cannibalized for a centennial celebration.

   Still, it’s a good story.


   ¹ For discussion of these 3 questions see {26}. [Type it in exactly that way.]

   ² A common tangle with the word “faith” is that we often use as a noun for religion. “Faith” as a verb–the way we use it here–means “trust in” or “have confidence in.”

   ³ “A figment with feet”? There’s a provocative sermon title that (probably) has never been used before. (Take my “authoritative” word for it…)



Author: John Knapp