Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Radical Skepticism vs Common Sense

Some people just don't get it. I have explained this so many times, and they still don't get it. Please, please, please try to understand, before one of us dies. (Bonus points: Who said that ?)

Nothing can ever be absolutely proven 100%. You can always be a radical skeptic. There might be a global conspiracy to lie to you. We might all be brains in a jar. The whole world might be an illusion. However, we have to live our lives according to what is extremely probable, not what might, in some bizarre way, be remotely possible. It might be possible that Science is all wrong, but that doesn't stop us from getting on a plane or taking medicine.

It might be possible that my spouse is really my sister. Does that mean I can't go home ? It might be possible, so surely I wouldn't want to be oyver on Giluy Arayos ! Clearly, this is ridicluous. Even when it comes to yehoreg ve'al yaavor, we hold by common sense and chazakah. Since there is no reason to assume otherwise, its not Giluy Arayos.

Similarly, if the global majority of experts hold of something, and there is no reason to assume any pre-conceived bias or incorrect assumptions, then its only secheldick to agree. Its not a case of having "too much faith in Science". Its not a case of having "Emunah Peshuta in Science". Its not "trusting the Scientists more than the Gedolim". Its basic, common sense. Its the only reasonable way to live life. If you jettison common sense, then nothing makes sense.

Thats what it boils down to. This basic and fundamental premise precedes everything else, it has to. If you can question reality, you get nowhere. Once you have this assumption, then you realize that parts of the Torah must be re-interpreted. Those people who come up with bizarre nonsensical Nes-Nisayon theories, or who say we can't believe the Scientists, are making a very fundamental mistake.

Of course some parts of Science are less proven. Some parts are based on assumptions that we discount. For example, some aspects of evolutionary theory are based on the assumption that there was no preconceived plan for life. If you hold G-d did plan life, you might argue on this.

However, those parts which are proven, which are not based on any faulty assumptions, but simply on honest experimentation and evaluation of the evidence, need to be accepted. Of course its always possible that in some bizarre event of extremely low probability, something might be disproven. Nu, if it happens, then it happens. But you can't live your life or construct your ideology based on what might possibly happen.

If you do, you might need to be committed to an asylum.