It is wrong, the nineteenth-century British mathematician W. K. Clifford affirmed, “always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” I am guessing that Clifford believed what he wrote, but what evidence he had for his belief, he did not say.

The Devil’s Delusion – Atheism and its scientific pretensions by David Berlinski

If dogmatic belief is wrong, then does that include the dogmatic belief that dogmatic belief is wrong?

Everybody has beliefs. If you didn’t, you couldn’t function on a day to day basis. Imagine not believing that the floor will hold you up every step you take? You would need to carefully increase the pressure of every step until putting enough pressure down to move forward, like selecting the next rock when free climbing a cliff. If you lived that way, you couldn’t even drive to the cliff, or to work, or the grocery store, or whatever.

Everybody has beliefs. Someone believes that homosexuality is wrong, and someone believes that position is wrong (and evil). Both of these are beliefs, no matter how much outrage you attach to either position.

Everybody has beliefs. Does two plus two actually equal four? Isn’t the concept of “equality” a socially defined construct?

Everybody has beliefs. You say you “go with the probabilities”? If you flip a coin one thousand times and it comes up heads every time, what is the probability it will come up heads the next time? Fifty/fifty. Will the sun come up tomorrow? Probably. Will you eventually die? If you say “probably”, then you are certainly an unusual case or you are deluding yourself.

Everybody has beliefs. How did the universe begin? The Big Bang you say? So then how did the Big Bang begin? Nothing to say? So, you are accepting this construct of a “Big Bang” without an explanation? How quaint.

Of course, at this point some will pass me off as a “science denier” and click to a cat video. But is this any different than calling me a “heretic” and doing the same thing? To be clear, I believe that much of what science uncovers has pragmatic value, although I think that scientists lose their way when they try to attach meaning to what is essentially just a series of inductive inferences. Meaning is an individual thing, and inductive inferences only work until they don’t. (Click these links for more on the problems of induction and the philosophy of science.)

At some level, all beliefs require a leap of faith. You can hide your beliefs in a series of reductions, but in the end they are still all based on insufficient evidence. So, it’s up to you to choose your beliefs.

Image source: She blinded me with science