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The writer's name that I couldn't think of earlier is Adam Gourevitch, I believe.

How do you know what is true?

Professional philosophers have been cracking their heads over that for a long time, and that's not because it's easy to say. Don't look here for it either. But that is the right question, all right.

On the question of faith and confidence and truth, there is this.

The late Richard Feynman, who was more than well-known as a thinker, especially in physics, math, and living, maintained that he was comfortable being in doubt, for uncertainty provided the impulse to question further, and only by questioning further, then following through by looking, testing, thinking, and reporting your results for others to critique can you be confident of learning something new, which is what he was after. It was his way of pushing back the dark a little or a lot.

That's the scientific process, essentially, and he was a leading figure in it.

Religiously inclined people aren't always as comfortable with uncertainty. They don't welcome it as something to use to advantage. They may become complacent and intransigent in the face of strong evidence to the contrary. Hence belief in supernatural rescue, or answers, which no scientist could accept.

Or, as Archie Bunker once said, "Faith is believing in something that no one in his right mind would believe."

So you have your pick. You can opt for Religion, which professes to provide certainty, the answer to life's hardest questions, such as where do we go when we die, and praying for rescue from disaster when no earthly force is apt to be of help.

Or you can opt for Science, where after you accept the provisional certainties of "established knowledge," you are aware that, like Newton's Laws, they are subject to change when a guy like Einstein comes along and demonstrates Newton may have been correct as far as he went (we use his "laws" to calculate space ship trajectories and the like), but he didn't go far enough.

What makes it really curious is that you get religious scientists and scientific religious.

I once met a petroleum scientist on a trip to Turkey. He'd just come from Israel. Howdja like it, I asked. He wasn't sure he liked it. Why? Because he went to the Holy Land to see where Jesus performed the miracles, he explained, after stating he was a Baptist. But the Israeli tour guide kept saying, "Here is where tradition has it that Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes."

"I didn't want to hear where "tradition has it," I wanted to see where Jesus performed the miracle."

Here was a scientist who believed in miracles. I thought that was marvelous, if not quite miraculous.

It reminded me of something author Rita Mae Brown wrote, to the effect that each of us in Western Civilization is riding bareback on two horses running in opposite directions. One is the clear, hard thinking of the Greeks, our rational thinking, and the other is the mystical tradition of the Hebrews and Christians. My religious petroleum scientist was the perfect example.

Let me know what you guys figure out.

I prefer flipping coins, myself, to decide hard problems, as it's more rational.

I have a friend, a psychologist, who, when I argued science to him, said, "Science is the ultimate religion." That stopped me cold and I've never been the same since. Now I don't know which church to attend, the one with the statuary or the one with the lab retorts.

Think I'll just stick with the genuine crystal ball given to me by a real Gypsy.

-rs



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