The Religious Faith Problem?
“Scientific realism is a positive epistemic attitude towards the content of our best theories and models, recommending belief in both observable and unobservable aspects of the world described by the sciences.” Ref
We Do Not Really so much have a religious faith problem, as we have a scientific reality problem. If one would accept scientific realism over religious faith’s (fideism) antirealism/idealism world views, there would be no more religious faith problem. Fideism (faith-ism) is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths. Debates about scientific realism are centrally connected to almost everything else in the philosophy of science, for they concern the very nature of scientific knowledge. Scientific realism is a positive epistemic attitude towards the content of our best theories and models, recommending belief in both observable and unobservable aspects of the world described by the sciences. This epistemic attitude has important metaphysical and semantic dimensions, and these various commitments are contested by a number of rival epistemologies of science, known collectively as forms of scientific antirealism. Epistemologically, realism is committed to the idea that theoretical claims (interpreted literally as describing a mind-independent reality) constitute knowledge of the world. This contrasts with scientific skeptic positions which, even if they grant the metaphysical and semantic dimensions of realism, doubt that scientific investigation is epistemologically powerful enough to yield such knowledge, or, as in the case of some antirealist positions, insist that it is only powerful enough to yield knowledge regarding observables. The epistemological dimension of realism, though shared by realists generally, is sometimes described more specifically in contrary ways. For example, while many realists subscribe to the truth (or approximate truth) of theories understood in terms of some version of the correspondence theory of truth, some prefer deflationary accounts of truth. Though most realists marry their position to the successful reference of theoretical terms, including those for unobservable entities, processes, properties, and relations, some deny that this is a requirement. Amidst these differences, however, a general recipe for realism is widely shared: our best scientific theories give true or approximately true descriptions of observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent world. Ref Ref
Here are representative statements of scientific realism:
The best current scientific theories are at least approximately true.
The central terms of the best current theories are genuinely referential.
The approximate truth of a scientific theory is sufficient explanation of its predictive success.
The (approximate) truth of a scientific theory is the only possible explanation of its predictive success.
A scientific theory may be approximately true even inferentially unsuccessful.
The history of at least the mature sciences shows progressive approximation to a true account of the physical world.
The theoretical claims of scientific theories are to be read literally, and so read are definitively true or false.
Scientific theories make genuine, existential claims.
The predictive success of a theory is evidence for the referential success of its central terms.
Science aims at a literally true account of the physical world, and its success is to be reckoned by its progress toward achieving this aim. Ref
Most importantly what do contemporary professional philosophers believe in the external world so value non-skeptical realism 81.6%; scientific realism 75.1%; atheism 72.8%; A priori knowledge: yes 71.1%; Free will: compatibilism 59.1%; Mind: physicalism 56.5%; moral realism 56.4%; Truth: correspondence 50.8%; Metaphilosophy: naturalism 49.8%; Epistemic justification: externalism 42.7%; Aesthetic value: objective 41.0%; Knowledge claims: contextualism 40.1%; Knowledge: empiricism 35.0%; rationalism 27.8%.
The philosophical views of 1,972 contemporary professional philosophers, 77.2% specified “male,” 17.4% specified “female,” and 5.3% did not specify a gender and that included 62 departments in the US, 18 in the UK, 7 in Europe outside the UK, 7 in Canada, and 5 in Australasia were:
The following list summarizes the results for the target faculty group, collapsing answers
that “accept” and “lean toward” a given view and collapsing all “other” answers.
- A priori knowledge: yes 71.1%; no 18.4%; other 10.5%.
- Abstract objects: Platonism 39.3%; nominalism 37.7%; other 23.0%.
- Aesthetic value: objective 41.0%; subjective 34.5%; other 24.5%.
- Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes 64.9%; no 27.1%; other 8.1%.
- Epistemic justification: externalism 42.7%; internalism 26.4%; other 30.8%.
- External world: non-skeptical realism 81.6%; skepticism 4.8%; idealism 4.3%; other 9.2%.
- Free will: compatibilism 59.1%; libertarianism 13.7%; no free will 12.2%; other 14.9%.
- God: atheism 72.8%; theism 14.6%; other 12.6%.
- Knowledge claims: contextualism 40.1%; invariantism 31.1%; relativism 2.9%; other 25.9%.
- Knowledge: empiricism 35.0%; rationalism 27.8%; other 37.2%.
- Laws of nature: non-Humean 57.1%; Humean 24.7%; other 18.2%.
- Logic: classical 51.6%; non-classical 15.4%; other 33.1%.
- Mental content: externalism 51.1%; internalism 20.0%; other 28.9%.
- Meta-ethics: moral realism 56.4%; moral anti-realism 27.7%; other 15.9%.
- Metaphilosophy: naturalism 49.8%; non-naturalism 25.9%; other 24.3%.
- Mind: physicalism 56.5%; non-physicalism 27.1%; other 16.4%.
- Moral judgment: cognitivism 65.7%; non-cognitivism 17.0%; other 17.3%.
- Moral motivation: internalism 34.9%; externalism 29.8%; other 35.3%.
- Newcomb’s problem: two boxes 31.4%; one box 21.3%; other 47.4%.
- Normative ethics: deontology 25.9%; consequentialism 23.6%; virtue ethics 18.2%; other 32.3%.
- Perceptual experience: representationalism 31.5%; qualia theory 12.2%; disjunctivism 11.0%; sense-datum theory 3.1%; other 42.2%.
- Personal identity: psychological view 33.6%; biological view 16.9%; further-fact view 12.2%; other 37.3%.
- Politics: egalitarianism 34.8%; communitarianism 14.3%; libertarianism 9.9%; other 41.0%.
- Proper names: Millian 34.5%; Fregean 28.7%; other 36.8%.
- Science: scientific realism 75.1%; scientific anti-realism 11.6%; other 13.3%.
- Teletransporter: survival 36.2%; death 31.1%; other 32.7%.
- Time: B-theory 26.3%; A-theory 15.5%; other 58.2%.
- Trolley problem: switch 68.2%; don’t switch 7.6%; other 24.2%.
- Truth: correspondence 50.8%; deflationary 24.8%; epistemic 6.9%; other 17.5%.
- Zombies: conceivable but not metaphysically possible 35.6%; metaphysically possible 23.3%; inconceivable 16.0%; other 25.1%. Ref