Thursday, November 1, 2007

The problem of certainty

I have been sitting in the staff room with a scientist, and two mathematicians, one of whom is a fundamentalist Christian. It strikes me that many of the assumptions they make are based on the false premis that there is certainty in the world. They see things in a very binary, black and white sort of a way whereas I am trying to deal with the various textures of grey.

Heisenbergs Law says that there is no certainty, only the restless potential between black and white. The world is shot through with areas of uncertainty and ambiguity side by side with areas of certainty.

My colleagues talk endlessly of objectivity and dismiss religion as subjective. They demand empiracle evidence and say that religion can not provide it, therefore religion is wrong. The fundamentalist uses the same arguments of certainty to achieve the opposite outcome.

I disagree with both camps.

We operate in a world that seems to be objective and yet much of what we value most is subjective: relationships, values and emotions for a starter. The point is that those things are like God to the believer: everything in our brains is real to us whether it can be proved or disproved. How can we be sure that the subjective is not valid?
No more posts before Monday as I am on a residential this weekend.