Friday, May 04, 2012

I am not crazy and I am not stupid.

Nobody thinks they are crazy or stupid.  Everybody thinks he or she is right.  We have an innate need to be right.  Yet, other people do not give everybody else the same benefit of the doubt that they give themselves.

If I think I am right, and someone contradicts me, I must assume that he or she is wrong.  When the other person hears me say he or she is wrong, he/she reacts in kind and says I am the wrong one.  This scenario must happen when people are convinced they are right and others contradict them.  Our reactions imply that the other person is crazy or stupid.

When the principles of the prior two posts are considered, we can isolate the source of most problems.  People are most often looking at the same set of facts.  If they are not, they can iterate what they have observed.  In the lipstick problem, the wife was not privy to an observation the husband had made, i.e., an encounter with a lipsticked relative.  Had he mentioned this encounter when he saw his wife, they both would have had the same facts from which to draw a conclusion.

Assume that two people have iterated the facts and agreed to them, but still disagree on the meaning or interpretation of the facts.  Since the rules of logic do not vary based upon who the individual is, the only thing remaining to account for their different conclusions is their presuppositions, i.e., what major premises they have accepted by faith.

My first college degree was in Geology.  Geologists have an interesting task similar to that of the historian, viz., how do you understand something that happened in the past, when you only have artifacts and relics from the previous time period, and cannot be an eye-witness, yourself, to the events, themselves?  Future historians will be in a much better position than current ones, because of advances in technology.  Whereas today's historians are limited to the study of written documents and built environments from the past, tomorrow's historians will be able to view DVD's and other audio/video media that will let them observe the actual happenings from which they will be drawing meaning.

Geologists frequently limit their historical observations to the rocks and fossil records in the rocks, but they could also learn from the historian, and use the collective written records from ancient cultures to augment their understanding.  Only a presupposition separates two geologists who come to different conclusions.

If a geologist assumes the rock records were deposited in pre-history, he will not look for verification in historical records.  His assumption then colors his conclusion.  He will not be able to conclude that the rock layers are related to historical time.  The fact that many cultures record stories of great floods will not even be considered in his evaluation of what the rocks mean.  His blinders of scientific objectivism keep him from seeing what may be obvious to others. (This is a problem with modern university education: so much specialization means educated people have no knowledge of other specialties.)

Another assumption made by geologists in the last century or so is the rule of Uniformitarianism.  This rule states that things have always happened the same way we observe them happening, today.  This assumption limits the understanding of things that happened in  prehistoric time to the same processes that have happened in historic time.  It is a way of saying, "Seeing is believing."  If we are not able to see it happen, it can't have happened.  This is an arrogant statement for the residents of a miniscule particle of the universe in an instant of the time line to make about a time line of billions of years (in their scheme).

But it is not crazy and it is not stupid.  It is merely an argument made using the observations of scientists (the minor premises in the argument) by logically following an assumption (major premise) to its logical conclusion.

Remember that these presuppositions are faith principles.  They are accepted and embraced by faith and subjected to scrutiny only when the conclusions lead to contradictions.  One faith leads to one conclusion and another faith leads, with the same evidence, to a different conclusion.

Crazy and stupid do not apply.  Faith does apply.  In argumentation and evaluation of arguments, all faiths are equal.  They are only beliefs that are embraced by different people.  Those fundamental assertions will lead them to different conclusions.

But are all faiths equal?  A question for a later discussion.